Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Meditation for Newbies

Meditation is something I had always wanted to try, so I decided to take a class at a meditation centre. I learned lots of different mindfulness techniques and even received several guided meditations that take about 15 minutes to do. Even though I knew these meditations would only take 15 minutes, I still struggled to do them. It took about two years until I made it a habit to meditate at least once a week for 15 minutes.

Meditation has helped me immensely not just as a relaxation and self-care technique, but in becoming more mindful -in being able to notice things going on around and inside me. I love how I feel after I meditate. You would think that after such a positive experience it would be easier to continue, right?

I have to admit that I still struggle to meditate even once a week for 15 minutes. Still, I realize that it's something that's good for me to do, so I try to push myself to do it.


The nice thing about meditation is that it's simple to do and it's free. Here's how:

1) Set a timer for any length of time. It helps if the timer has a gentle ring at the end. Also, don't feel you have to aim for a really long time -start with just 5 minutes.

2) Sit or lie down comfortably. Use a pillow to help you sit more comfortably, if needed.

3) Practice breathing deeply. If you need something to focus on, focus on your breath, in and out.

4) Try not to be upset or angry at yourself if you get distracted. Imagine your thoughts as leaves on a stream, floating away. They may have caught your eye for a minute, but they are continuing on their way. Continue to breathe and refocus on your breath.

5) Open yourself up to whatever you may be feeling, and name it, without getting caught up in it. Mindfulness is about allowing and accepting. If you feel yourself getting stuck in your feelings or the thoughts that may accompany them, continue to focus on your breath.

Often people feel that they can't meditate properly because they feel fidgety and can't control their thoughts. It's important to recognize that there is no "proper" way to meditate and that meditation isn't about controlling your thoughts or "emptying your mind." Even if you are just sitting still for 15 minutes, you are still doing yourself a world of good.

For further thought:

1) What self-care rituals do you struggle to maintain?
2) Have you ever considered meditation as a parenting tool?
3) What obstacles prevent you from being able to meditate? How do you think you can overcome them?

For further reading:

Tara Brach: How to Meditate
Deepak Chopra: 7 Myths of Meditation
HuffPo: 12 Myths About Meditation, 6 Meditation Problems and Meditation for Parents
Tiny Buddha: 5 Meditation Myths
Life Hacker: Five Common Myths about Meditation
Meditation Oasis: Difficulty Meditating
The Anxious Lawyer: Difficulty Meditating – Troubleshooting Guide
The Change Blog: What To Do When Meditation Gets “Hard”

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