A Beginners Guide To Meditation

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How long is your to do list? Do you even have time to make one? The pace of life today is relentless and sadly it can leave us stressed, overworked and often unhappy, which is never a good place to be…

We very rarely can justify time to just stop and breathe but that is exactly what we need to do – in the form of meditation. I was a big meditation sceptic mainly because I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t switch off my mind, it was like a wheel powered by a hamster on speed. However like anything in life practice makes perfect. Although sparing 15 to 20 minutes of your day can feel like a somewhat impossible task, it really is worth it for something that can potential improve your quality of life.

Here it is a beginners guide to meditation. Go try it today.

1. Position yourself
You don’t have to be in full lotus position on the top of  a mountain a la Buddhist monk for meditation to be effective. Find a quiet place, where you won’t be disturbed then position yourself comfortably. The most common position is sitting crossed legged on the floor. However if that is uncomfortable for you use a chair or a stool. The important thing is to sit tall, imagine a thread extending from the top of your head, pulling your back, neck and head straight up towards the ceiling in a straight line.

2. Relax
Close your eyes and internally scan your body for tension. Wherever you feel any send breath there, you do that by focussing on that area as you deeply inhale and exhale. Then tense and relax each body part one at a time starting at your toes and working up to face, don’t miss out anything.

3. Increase your awareness
Keeping your eyes closed take in everything around you. The noises, smells, sensations. Don’t react, simply notice them.

4. Breathe
Focus on filling very available space in your body with air as you inhale. Notice how the air feels and where it goes. Hold it momentarily when you can’t take in any more then exhale slowly and enjoy the feeling of release. 

5. Make yourself a mantra
A mantra is a sound, word or phrase that can be repeated throughout your meditation, some have  spiritual, vibrational and transformative benefits. Starting out they are really useful as a tool to help stop your mind from wandering. You could use an affirmative phrase or something as simple as ‘I am breathing in, I am breathing out’ or even count – 1 on the inhale, 2 on the exhale, up to 10 then start again.

6. Calm your mind
This is the hardest part. Thoughts will constantly sneak into your mind. Instead of letting them take you away from your state of presence, just acknowledge them, then return to focussing on your breath/mantra.

9. Timing
You can meditate for a long or as little as want. Obviously the longer and more often, the better. However for beginners it is good to start with shorter (5 – 10minute) periods until you become more comfortable with your practice and to avoid getting disheartened. I found it useful to set a timer so that I mediated for a predetermined amount of time, otherwise I found my mind constantly thinking about when I should stop.

8. How to end your practice
When you are ready to end your practice, slowing bring your conscious attention back to your surroundings. Gently wiggle your fingers and toes and begin to move your hands, feet, arms and legs.  Open your eyes.  Move slowly and take your time getting up.

9. Practice often
Consistency is more important than quantity.  Meditating for 5 minutes every day will reward you with far greater benefits than meditating for two hours, one day a week.

10. Practice everywhere
It is usually easy, especially in the beginning, to practice in a quiet space at home. However when ready, you can try exploring new locations, maybe outdoors in nature, at work, in the car, on the bus. Wherever and whenever you get a chance. Even if you are standing in line, try to relax and focus on your breath, it is an incredible stress reliever that your body will thank you for.

Hopefully this guide is useful. If it has convinced you to give it a try, let us know how it works out. And for all you meditating pros out there, please inspire our readers with the wonderful benefits you have reaped from your practice.


Image credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/venkateshk/99507598/http://365daysyoga.tumblr.com/

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