What a daunting idea - to sit still, zip your lips and not budge an inch all in the name of inner peace and a deeper connection. Most newbies (is that you?) will probs find the initial world of meditating a mega challenge. And fair enough. We have a tendency these days to glorify the busy-buns and praise the multi-taskers. Most of us have not had all that much practice sitting still for the sake of it, so fair dues that meditation can be a world of difficult.
I was once a newbie meditator myself. I think the fact that we were all once beginners at everything in this life sometimes gets forgotten. Whether it’s playing an instrument, learning to eat with a knife and fork, or sitting down on a cushion to go inward - it takes practice, persistence and a willingness to keep at it in order for anything to become a bit easier and more fruitful.
Here are 5 tips and tricks to help you meditate:
1. Loosen Up
Take a few minutes to prepare your body for sitting. This can include a passive Yin Yoga, a few rounds of Cat / Cow or simply shrugging out your shoulders and doing a few hip circles. If you haven’t spent a lot of time sitting on the ground, it can be the biggest battle of starting a meditation practice. Get your body loose and ready so that the physicality is a little less of a struggle.
2. Timer On
Start with short regular stints of meditation. Set a little clock with a non-offensive buzzer, because hey - who wants to have a meditation sesh end with a loud BEEP BEEP BEEP. Try five minutes for the first week or so, then step it up to seven minutes and then ten. See what you can commit to and then try to be dedicated to that. You can totally do it.
3. One Focus
Choose one thing to focus on. This will serve as your anchor until eventually, you might not need it anymore. This one point of focus can be your breath - in and out - it can also be the feeling at the tip of your nose, or an external object if you choose to keep your eyes open. Try to pick one thing and then stick with that.
Don’t jump around from minute to minute or meditation to meditation. Rock one focus and if it falls away naturally over time, so be it.
4. Sacred Space
It’s hard to meditate when there’s a dog licking your face, a laptop open and facing you, while a TV blares in the background. As much as you can, create a space that’s quiet, neutral and serene. Light a candle, close the door and give yourself some space to swim through the meditative waters. One day, the dog licking your face might be part of your practice but for now, make it a bit easier and do away with distractions.
5. Keep Track
Start a meditation journal. At the front of this journal write in big words - IT IS WHAT IT IS. Regardless of whether it feels successful, shitty or boring - let it be what it is, without judgement or worry that you’re doing it right. Be curious about your experiences like an explorer charting new terrain. Be interested in what you discover, note it and keep on trucking.
No matter what - keep coming back to your cushion, day after day, year after year.