Meditation is a great way to clear your mind and find a sense of peace.
There are also a number of proven health benefits, and it’s actually a really simple practice to integrate.
But while meditation is simple, it can be confusing and even overwhelming for many people at first. Here are the answers to some common questions about meditation to help you get started.
What exactly is meditation?
Meditation is the act of clearing your mind from the day-to-day clutter and quieting your thoughts by focusing on one thing for a deliberate period of stillness.
How long does meditation take?
While some experienced meditators can practice for an hour or even more, don’t expect to be able to do this at first. Even the act of a few deep breaths while waiting for your morning train or mindful reflection while brushing your teeth can be an effective moment of meditation.
When you sit down for a more formal meditation, a good goal to start with is two minutes. Over time, your ability to hold your meditation will improve, and you can extend your practice to longer periods.
How do I meditate?
The first step is to get comfortable. For beginners, a seated position is usually best, either in a chair or on the floor. If you have a meditation pillow, that’s great too—but if you don’t, there is no need to buy one.
Settle into your position and get comfortable so that your body is not a distraction as you meditate. Then, choose a method for your meditation and find your center.
What are these meditation methods?
There are a number of different ways you can meditate. All are equally acceptable approaches—the right method for you depends solely on what is most comfortable for you.
Some popular methods include:
Focusing on a divine quality—Divine qualities represent the abstract positive forces of the universe, such as love, joy and compassion. To use divine qualities for meditation, choose one to reflect on and let it guide your thoughts for the duration of your practice.
Lighting a candle—Some people find it challenging to shut their eyes and maintain stillness in their thoughts when they are new to meditation. If you’re among them, don’t feel you need to force it. Taking your focus outward to something calm and pensive, such as the flame of a candle, can serve the same purpose.
Listening to a guided meditation—In a guided meditation, you listen as someone else offers a narrative to direct your focus. There are many guided meditations available online for free—take your pick!
Okay, I’ve chosen a meditation method. Now what?
Once you’re in a comfortable position and you’ve chosen a meditation method, all you need to do is settle in, be present and breathe deep.
As you release into your practice, maintain your self-awareness. How does your body feel? What is going through your mind? Distractions are bound to arise, and this is normal. As thoughts come up, gently let them go and pull your mind back to your focus. If you feel discomfort or tension in your body, shift your position as needed and release it.
Don’t let these distractions stress you out or frustrate you—it’s all part of the process. If you observe negative feelings arising, simply let them go like your other thoughts and redirect your attention to your meditation again.
With regular practice, you will soon start feeling the positive effects of meditation. The more frequently you meditate, the more it will benefit your day-to-day life and well being. Meditation is truly that simple.
Start as small as you need to, to make meditation practice realistic and sustainable for you. As meditating becomes more comfortable for you, experiment with different poses, methods, locations and times of day for your meditation. This will help you learn what works best for you. You can also start to extend the duration of your meditation sessions.
And remember—there is no good or bad to meditation. Some days you will more easily find your inner peace than others, and that’s okay. Simply accept yourself where you are each day and in that particular meditation.
Over time, your meditation practice will naturally lead you to becoming more centered, mindful and at peace.
Author: Melanie Beckler
Editor: Emily Bartran
Image: Used with Permission