Doing the Non-Doing: Simple Tips to Starting your Meditation Practice
Mindfulness, or the state of being immersed in one’s present experience, has been trending due to the many reported physical, mental, and psychological benefits. In a society that encourages you to work long hours, plow through your to-do list, and basically remain 10 steps ahead of the present, how can we manage to stay mindful?
Practicing meditation is a way to train and strengthen your mindfulness skills both on and off the cushion.
Often times we hear clients state that they’ve always wanted to try meditation, but they just can’t get themselves started. They imagine that setting up a daily practice will be difficult, or worry that they won’t be good at it.
We’re here to show you that meditation can be done basically anywhere, at any time! Here are some simple tips to setting up a meditation practice.
Create a meditation space. Find an area in your home, on your commute, at school, work, or even your favorite coffee shop, that is relatively free from distraction. Although less noise distraction might be easier for beginners, this doesn’t mean you can’t meditate in an environment with sound. (Though you definitely don’t want your children, roommates, or pets calling out for you while you’re trying to meditate!) If you’re having trouble choosing, examine the pros and cons of a couple of options. Where is it easiest for you to let go of the wears of the day?
Start with small increments. If you’ve never run before, you wouldn’t sign up for a marathon before running a mile. The same goes for meditation. If you’ve never meditated before, try setting aside 2-5 minutes of your day to dedicate to your practice. Add on as you become more comfortable.
Feel the breath. When you sit (or lie) down to meditate, pay attention to the feeling of your breath. If it’s hard to follow your breath, you can put your hands on your stomach and notice your stomach moving in and out. When you notice your mind wandering, (which it will!), gently steer your attention back to the sensations of breathing.
Understand the purpose of mediation. The purpose is not to achieve some miraculous end state. It’s actually the one time when you can let go of trying to get things done, and just be as you are in this very moment. When you notice your mind going to your to-do list or what you have planned for the day, acknowledge the thoughts and return your attention to your breathing.
Make it a habit. People often find it helpful to meditate at the same time each day. Some people like to meditate in the morning, some in the evening, some as a break in their day. Whether you choose to meditate in the morning before you open that first email, or in the evening right before bed, make a commitment to meditate
There’s no “right” way to meditate. You don’t need the perfect yoga mat, the perfect space, the perfect time, or the perfect mind state to meditate. All you need is yourself 🙂
If you’re having difficulty setting up or maintaining your meditation practice, you are not alone. Many people find meditation groups a helpful way to get started.
If you are have questions about meditation and are looking for support, join our group “Coping with Stress using Mindfulness and Cognitive-Behavioral Based Practices.”
Kenya Crawford, KIP Intern