Me and meditation have pretty special relationship with each other. For one moment, we are good together, everything goes smoothly and then there is always a time when we do not fully understand. But one thing is certain. I am always grateful for returning to it. So in this post I would like to give you some tips on how you can begin with meditation too.
My relationship with meditation lasts just over two years now. I started meditate in the hope of helping me with my anxieties, and so it happened, since then I recommend it to everyone. I myself started (also on a friend’s recommendation) with the 1 Giant Mind phone app. Nowdays I choose the meditation technique mostly by my current mood. I’m definitely not an expert on meditation. I have only read a few books on this issue, visited a meditation workshop, and last year I spent a week in Bali on a meditation retreat. About that experinece I might write in some other article. These days I try to meditate every day for at least 10 minutes, nevertheless I still have some periods of time in which I manage to do this daily ritual with love and then one day I skip my meditation and it is hard for me to get back. However eventually I always return back to meditation and thank myself for having done so. Meditation really helps me and maybe it will help you as well.
What exactly is meditation
Many people think that the essence of meditation is completely stoping the flow of our thoughts. Unfortunately I have to dissappoint you but that is not our aim. The main purpose of meditation is to learn to observe these thoughts, noting them. We have to realize that we are not our thoughts.
Meditation can be something else for each and every one. For me it is a moment of total peace, when I sit comfortably and try to keep my attention at least for a moment in a presence. I try to be an observer of my thoughts. For some however some kind of meditation may be yoga exercises, walking on the grass barefoot or listening to music. Everyone has to find their way in which at least for a moment we will calm our minds a little.
Benefits of meditation
Thanks to meditation we deepen our attention and concentration and because to that we are much more effective in all the activities we do. We can also reduce stress, tension and anxiety. I notice myself that because of the meditation I began to perceive the things and events around me much more positively and calmly. And last but not least regular meditation can improve the quality of sleep. So why not try it?
Where and How to meditate
For start it is advisable to find a place to practice meditation. Somewhere you feel safe, comfortable and it is quiet. It is recommended to meditate with your spine upright, preferably in a sitting position where you should not feel any discomfort. You can use a pillow, blanket, bolster or anything else to make it pleasant, you should not feel cold or either hot, and you should´t need to modify the position during your meditation.
There is really a many types of meditation techniques. In this article I will briefly introduce you some of the basic ones that I myself sometimes practice or at least have tried. You can try one of them at home or with someone who is close to you. Another option is to look for a meditation group in your neighborhood. Unfortunately in smaller cities they are not as common, but in larger cities you will definitely find a group you can join. Try out which option is best suited to you.
Once again I would like to stress that no matter how you practice any technique of meditation its purpose is not to stop your thoughts. Maybe after a while in meditation you find yourself thinking about what you have to do today or what to cook for dinner. That’s all right. Whenever you realize that your attention has fled somewhere else just come back to it. Do not be angry with yourself. Don´t rate your meditation because of it as bad one. Just keep going. Just as the purpose of the lungs is to breathe, the purpose of our mind is to produce thoughts. We just want to learn to meditate by watching the thoughts as an observer. Maybe we can smile at what the mind has come to us again. Now, to those meditation technique…
If you are a beginner at meditation you will most certainly be fine with a breath watching technique. Sit down comfortably, inhale several times with your nose and inhale deeply with your mouth. After that slowly close your eyes. Try to notice where you breathe in your body, through what the breath in your body passes and observe it. For beginners it´s perfectly fine if you only watch your breath for a few minutes. Then your meditation can come to an end and you can slowly open your eyes, stretch a little and continue with your day. If you want to go a bit further after breathing freely for a while you can extend your inhales and exhales. Try to inhale (just through your nose) at first for three times and exhale for three. Repeat this several times and then you can extend your breaths even more, it´s up to you and your lungs. When you want to end the meditation, let your breath flow freely for a moment, just be aware of it. In the end, slowly open your eyes, maybe stretch a little and your meditation is over.
Another option is guided meditation. In this way as the name suggests someone else is telling you what to focus on or what to do during your meditation. For this technique there are great apps to guide you about which I write a few paragraphs below. Try again and see how this style would suit you.
MEDITATION WITH MANTRA
What is a mantra anyway? As a mantra, we consider any sound, word or sentence that we repeat in our minds during the meditation. You can use any mantra that speaks to you in any way. Often you can meet with the famous Óm in yoga classes, or I myself have met mantras such as: Sóóó Ham, I am enough, I am light and so on. Choose the very mantra that resonates with you in some way and try it out.
You can also try concentrating at one place. Again sit back and slowly begin to concentrate at one point in front of you on the floor or place an object in front of you and just focus on that. Don´t try to look at the object too tightly, but rather gently. Then start to perceive the light, the air and the sound around you without losing a sight of that point. Just be aware of your surrounding.
Another way to meditate is through visualization. For newbies in meditation it would be better to try this technique rather in a group meditation where the teacher will guide you through it. I myself sometimes work with the visualization of the sky. I imagine my mind is a cloudless blue sky. And then when a thought comes in, I imagine it as a black cloud that just passes from the left to the right of my azure sky, I smile, maybe I shift it little faster away and then I see that bright blue sky again.
How long and when to meditate
It is best to meditate early in the morning right after you wake up when your mind is not overwhelmed by the tasks and thoughts of the day ahead. It is also good not to eat before the meditation. I usually eat after it as well. As far as the length of meditation is concerned it is really individual thing. In most sources it is recommended to meditate 20 minutes twice a day. But from the very beginning one does not want to spend so much time on it so it’s up to you how much time you are able to make up for it. No meditation is bad one. Even if it’s only three minutes of your day in peace with your breath, it’s definitely worth it.
Helpers in meditation
As I have written in guided meditation section there are plenty of phone apps that can quide you through it. I can recommend these applications which I use to this day: Headspace, 1 Giant Mind, Insight Timer and Calm. Unfortunately, none of these applications are yet in Czech, so you have to understand at least a bit of English. You’ll find recordings that are priced and recordings that are free, so try to give some of them a chance and if you don´t like it, try a different recording or a completely different app.
Finally, I would like to remind you once again that no meditation is wrong. Try not to put a label on it. Every meditation will be completely different, just as you feel a little different every day. Try to be open to everything that the present moment brings you. I am sure that you will never regret the time you have spent meditating.