Beginning a Meditation Practice

1. Relax, Get Comfy

We tend to make meditation more complicated and challenging than necessary. Take it easy. Start by taking a comfortable seat. If you're flexible sit cross-legged on the floor, on a meditation cushion, bolster or blanket  with your knees resting slightly below your hips. If you're not, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor.

2. Consistency

One of the most lucrative ways to coax the mind into submission is to create a ritual. Set a clearly designated space for meditation. This can be as simple as a thoughtfully placed candle, picture or stone. You'll also want to practice at the same time every day. Start with the same protocol for each meditation. Routine triggers the mind out of the logical, linear thinking of the left brain, into the intuitive, non-linear right hemisphere.

3. Sit tall.

Posture 101: Sit up nice and tall by straightening your spine. Sit in a chair or against a wall if you need to. Lengthen the spine to help increase your circulation and keep you alert.

4. Start small.

Start where you are. If 10 minutes seems overwhelming, begin with five. After a week, begin to add one minute to your practice each week until you build up to 30 minutes (or more) at a time.

5. Be nice to yourself 

As renowned meditation teacher Sally Kempton says, "Meditation is Relationship."

Ultimately, it is all about your relationship to yourself. The way you do anything is the way you do everything. Meditation teaches us radical acceptance, compassion and unconditional love. Be sweet to your convoluted mind. Surrender to exactly who you are and what is happening  right here, right now. Relax it takes time to become mindful and settle the mind.

6. Note your excuses.

Meditation is a practice of self-inquiry. Observe your thoughts  I'm too tired or I don't have time. You can carve 5 to 10 minutes out of your day. Use a Meditation timer to create the routine. Notice how your mind can tend to rationalize when you break your commitment. Just observe and understand without judgment. Then recommit to your practice without making excuses.

 

7. Find a meditation buddy.

Accountability is the answer to your excuses. Find a buddy to commit to meditating with. Find a friend who is also beginning to meditate, or join a Facebook group or online course. Your struggle is normal…but it will get easier.

8. Practice makes perfect.

Or at least perfectly imperfect. As the Ashtanga guru, Patthabi Jois says, "Practice. Practice. Practice. All is coming."

Like anything in life, we get better with practice. Think of your meditation as bicep curls for your mind. You are training your brain to focus, concentrate and let go. It's sort of like mental crossfit! Over time, with consistency, you WILL become more skillful.

9. Focus on one breathe.

The breath is a gateway to the realm beyond the mind  our higher consciousness. Our mind is addicted to analyzing the past or projecting into the future. BUT the breath is only in the here and now. Focus on your breath to anchor the mind into the present moment.

10. Start a meditation journal.

End your practice each day by observing the benefits of your practice. How do I feel? What is my emotional state or mood? Use a notepad or get a custom Meditation Journal if you want something a bit nicer

Make note of any changes so they register in your body and conscious mind. So next time you resist meditation, flip through the notes you made in your journal to remember these benefits. This will help you stay motivated and committed.


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