4 min read
If you’ve never tried to meditate or if you’ve tried meditation, but somehow it didn’t stick, then these 5 Meditation Tips for Beginners are for you!
Mindfulness is most powerful when it penetrates into your everyday life. Find creative ways to infuse your day with mindfulness.
-Dr. Jason Holland, Lifespark
People often give mindfulness meditation a try and wonder, ‘Am I doing this right?’ Or maybe they get distracted so many times that they start to question, ‘What’s the use?’
If any of this describes you, I’m here to say don’t give up! Whether you’re focusing your attention on your breath, using a mantra, or relying on some other meditation technique (e.g., Tratak), here are 5 tips for making mindfulness meditation practices stick:
1. Know that distractions are normal.
When people first start meditating, they’re often surprised by how much their mind wanders. Their practice may start with a few solid seconds of focused awareness but then somehow inexplicably, it ends up morphing into a mental mashup of everything that happened that day.
That can certainly be frustrating. But don’t let these distractions get you down. In fact, that’s exactly what’s supposed to happen in meditation.
Watching your own stream of conscious is like watching the tides crash upon the shore and then recede. There’s a predictable drama that plays out on the surface, as the waves are pulled back and forth, but hiding just beneath the surface is a vast stillness of ocean water.
When meditating, the purpose is not to stop the waves from moving but rather to simply watch them. Stand back and observe the ebb and flow of your thoughts. And when you notice yourself getting too caught up in them, gently direct your focus back to the breath (or some other focus of attention like a mantra). Let it be a constant that anchors you to the stillness lying just below the chatter in your mind.
2. Be gentle with yourself.
One of the easiest ways to sabotage your meditation practice is to beat yourself up because you believe that you’re ‘doing it wrong’ or ‘can’t focus.’ Maybe you’re disappointed because you thought meditation was ‘supposed to be relaxing’ but a whole bunch of worries surfaced during your practice.
When such thoughts occur, don’t try to immediately get rid of them but simply notice them for what they are, just more thoughts. Allow these thoughts to exist as they are. Step back for a moment and watch them spin. And when you’re ready, gently bring yourself back to the breath.
This process of holding on and then letting go is an essential component of mindfulness meditation practice. So, instead of beating yourself up for these moments, start celebrating them!
3. Start small and build up.
Just as you wouldn’t start an new exercise regimen by running a marathon, it probably doesn’t make sense to push yourself beyond what feels comfortable when you begin meditating. Start with 5 minutes and gradually work your way up to longer sessions.
4. Learn from others.
I first got introduced to meditation by participating in a local group. My experience is that most groups are quite welcoming and often include some discussion about how to deepen your practice and work with issues that come up.
Experienced meditators can also be a great resource for learning different meditation techniques. There are many different kinds of meditation, and you may find that you gravitate to some techniques more than others.
5. Make mindfulness a part of everyday life.
Mindfulness simply refers to a state of focused and calm awareness of the present moment. In meditation, awareness is typically directed to the breath or a mantra.
But mindfulness is most powerful when it penetrates into your everyday life. Find creative ways to infuse your day with mindfulness. You could go on a mindful walk or try to be more open and aware in your interactions with others.
If you’re new to mindfulness meditation or have trouble getting into it, try to meditate keeping these tips in mind. You can use our free mindfulness meditation audio guide to jumpstart your practice.
And always remember, as long as you show up, you can’t get it wrong! Tell us about your experiences meditating in the comments below.