What is Meditation?
Meditation is a state of focused attention on a chosen object, such as your breath, a sound, a word, or an image. The purpose of meditation, broadly speaking, is to calm your mind and body, and to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment or attachment.
There are many types of meditation, such as mindfulness meditation, mantra meditation, loving-kindness meditation, and transcendental meditation. Each type has its own benefits and techniques, but they all share some common elements: a comfortable posture, a quiet place, a time limit, and a focus.
How to Start Meditating: A Step-by-Step Guide
Here are some simple steps to follow to start meditating:
- Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. You can use a cushion, a chair, a bed, or the floor. Make sure you are warm and cozy. You can use a blanket, a pillow, or an eye mask if you like.
- Set a timer for how long you want to meditate. You can start with 5 to 10 minutes and gradually increase the duration as you get more comfortable. You can use an app, a watch, or an alarm clock to set the timer.
- Close your eyes and relax your body. Take a few deep breaths and scan your body from head to toe. Release any tension or tightness that you notice in your muscles or joints.
- Choose an object to focus on. This can be your breath, a sound, a word, or an image. For example, you can focus on the sensation of your breath in your nose, chest, or belly.
- Keep your attention on your chosen object. Whenever your mind wanders to other thoughts or feelings, gently bring it back to your object. Don’t get frustrated or annoyed by distractions. Just acknowledge them and let them go. These are not hindrances to your meditation practice; these moments are the practice.
- When the timer goes off, slowly open your eyes and return to your normal activities. Take a moment to notice how you feel after meditating. You may feel more calm, relaxed, refreshed, or alert.
Best Practices for Beginners
Here are some tips to help you make meditation a regular part of your life:
- Meditate at the same time every day. This will help you create a routine and a habit. You can meditate in the morning when you wake up, in the evening before you go to bed, or any time that works for you.
- Meditate in a quiet and comfortable place. This will help you avoid distractions and interruptions.
- Sit in whatever position is most comfortable. You don’t get extra points for sitting like the Buddha.
- Go easy on yourself. Meditating is hard; don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself wondering who won the 1961 World Series in the middle of your session. It happens to everybody. Coming back to the practice from those thoughts is the point.