Meditation is the foundation for all my other habits—good habits that is. Meditation helped me build an attitude of peace, focus, attention, and appreciation, and it helped me be less worried about things. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not at all perfect. But I don’t mind that anymore.
I think the most important thing is that I’m beginning to understand my own mind. Previously, I never gave it a thought! My mind told me what to do, and I obeyed. Of course, it still happens that way, but I find I’m becoming more aware. I have choices, and I have an understanding of myself in a way I didn’t before. Understanding myself better gives me freedom in choices and greater flexibility in life.
I hope you’ll acquire this habit as well. And in that vein, I’m sharing some tips for beginners. First and foremost: don’t worry about it. Take baby steps. You’ll get better the more you do it, just like anything else. This is why we call it practicing meditation—we all grow and get better.
I’m only offering tips for beginners. Tips for someone who has not meditated before. They will help you get started, and once started, you can learn more. Don’t try everything at one time; just use a few of my suggestions. Once you feel comfortable with those, come back and get a few more.
Sit Down for Two Minutes
Really? That’s it? Yes, to begin with. Set a timer, and just sit. It can be anywhere; it doesn’t have to be in a special place. Do this for a week and then add another two minutes. After another week, add two minutes—pretty soon you’ll be meditating for ten minutes.
Make This the Beginning of Your Day
If you do it first, not only will you get a great start to your day, but you’ll have done it! Once we get wrapped up in our day, it’s much too easy to forget. Write yourself a note.
Don’t Worry about the ‘How’ of It
When we first start to meditate, we tend to worry about where we will sit, or how we will sit, or about things like whether we’ll sit on a special pillow or not. Don’t worry about that. Just sit. Anywhere. Since you’re just getting up, the side of your bed is good. It’s only for two minutes. Sit wherever you’ll be comfortable for two minutes.
How Am I Feeling?
How am I feeling? Ask yourself as you sit. How does my mind feel? My body? Am I happy, tense, or sad? Once you settle on how you’re feeling, be okay with it. Just recognize it and be okay.
You’re comfortable, so think about your breathing. Nothing major, just pay attention to your breath as it comes in and flows through your body to come out again. Count your breaths. One is breathing in, two is breathing out. Do this to ten, and then start over.
Don’t Go Too Far Away
Our minds will wander. They just do that. We are always thinking about something. When you find your mind wandering, smile, and start counting your breath again. Just start at one. There is no reason to become frustrated; you’re new at this!
Grow a Loving Feeling
Sometimes thoughts will come forward, and that’s okay. Look at them like friends. Your feelings are a part of you, and you like you. Have a loving feeling towards those thoughts, welcome them in and be friendly.
You’re Not Doing It Wrong
At the start, we all worry ‘we’re doing it wrong’. But we aren’t! There isn’t a perfect way to meditate. There is the way you will carve out for yourself. Don’t worry.
Don’t Try to Think of Nothing
The rumor is—meditation is about clearing your mind. Not really. It might happen, and that’s okay, but it’s not the goal. It’s pretty rare that our minds don’t think of anything at all. The business of our brain is to think, and it’s not that easy to stop it! But we can focus our attention and that’s what you should try to do.
Work with It
After you’ve been meditating for a week, try to stay with whatever feelings or thoughts come up. By now, you’re practiced at breathing, so let’s move on to this. Don’t concern yourself if so called ‘bad’ feelings come up. Just work with it and be curious.
Know Your Own Mind
This is about more than just learning to focus; it’s about getting to know your mind. Because we think with our mind, we don’t think too much about how that happens. Don’t avoid the difficult feelings, try to understand them.
Be Your Best Friend
As you get to know your mind and yourself, be kind to yourself. Smile at yourself and love the things you find out. Don’t criticize your feelings —feelings are what they are.
Get to Know Your Body Through Your Mind
When you get good at counting your breaths, start thinking about your own body. Start at the bottom and work your way up. How do your feet feel? How do the soles feel? Focus your attention on each part of your body, just for a few seconds.
Lights, Sound and Energy
If you’d rather focus on something else besides your body, notice the light in the room. Focus on one place, and notice the light. The next day, think about the sounds. Or think about the energy in the room.
Make a commitment to do this for a certain amount of time. I would suggest a month. Trying it for a few days won’t build a habit. Stick to it!
Meditate Where You Are
You can practice meditation wherever you are. You don’t need a special place. It’s portable! You can do it while traveling, or in your office. You can do it during your commute—only if you’re not driving—or in the park. This is an exercise in mindfulness that you want to use your whole life.
Try a Guided Meditation
If you’d like more structure, try a guided meditation. There are many good books out there that can help. A starting place is books by Tara Brach.
Do It with Friends
You can meditate with friends; you don’t always have to be alone. You can also ask a friend to help you be accountable. It helps in building the habit.
Be in a Community
Look for a community of people who meditate. You may have a Zen or Tibetan community in your area. You can look for a group online. You can even form your own group!
After two minutes is up, give yourself a smile. Be thankful you spent this time with yourself, you honored your commitment and proved yourself to be trustworthy. All of that is worth at least a smile!
Meditation has some amazing benefits. Don’t expect meditation to be easy all the time, nothing important is always easy. But today you took the first step in a lifelong journey. Good for you!