We know, we know...meditating is good for us. So then, why is it so hard to actually get into it? The benefits of meditation are endless, ranging from reducing stress to slowing aging to improving concentration. But, starting a daily meditation practice can be daunting for newbies. It can seem next to impossible to pay attention for longer than a few seconds, and not to mention sitting still for that long...how do people do it?
Luckily, there are a few key ways to get started with developing a meditation practice. It’s important to remember that while meditation usually has the same goal (to be more relaxed and foster mindfulness), how the different forms of meditation are accomplished can vary widely from person to person...and that’s okay! Meditation is personal, and there is no right way or wrong way to do it. What’s important is that you get started, have compassion for yourself, and commit to it daily. With time, you will be a meditation pro!
So, without fail, here are our tips on how to meditate so you can quiet mental chatter and finally focus.
The first step in starting a daily meditation practice is to make a plan. To do this, it’s beneficial to look at what you want to accomplish by meditating, and how much time you have to meditate each day. If you’re struggling to find time to meditate, think about any moments where you have some downtime.
This could be as simple as starting your meditation practice in the mornings, right after you wake up but right before you pick up your phone. You could look for downtime while food is cooking in the microwave, or in between meetings and errands. You could even look for downtime during commercial breaks!
The key is to find a time where meditation works for you, not where it will stress you out. The whole point of meditation is to destress you so you can finally focus and accomplish more throughout your days.
Once a plan has been put into place to start meditating, it’s time to commit to actually doing it. This can often be easier said than done, so we’re big fans of scheduling time throughout your day to dedicate to your blossoming meditation practice. We recommend pulling out your trusted day planner (or calendar, or iPhone...whatever works for you!) and actually calendaring time for your burgeoning meditation practice.
It’s a psychological fact that writing down your goals makes you much more likely to achieve them. So write down those meditation goals, girl!
When you first start meditating, don’t overdo it! You will need to ease your way into meditating so you don’t become overwhelmed. When you first start meditating, it’s okay to start with as small as a minute each day, so long as you’re focusing on your breathwork.
After you master a minute, you can then move on to two minutes a day. After you’ve mastered two minutes, you can move on to five minutes. Once you’ve got five minutes under your belt, try going for 10 minutes! Eventually, you may be able to work yourself up to longer sessions (like a half-hour to an hour) but you need to start small, otherwise, you’re going to get overwhelmed...and nobody’s got time for adding any more stress!
Breathwork is at the heart of any meditation, so that’s what you need to focus on when you’re first getting started. It’s tempting to fixate on extraneous factors like what position you’re sitting in, where you are, the temperature of the room you’re in, etc., but you always need to bring your concentration back to the breath. When you meditate, the single most important factor is to focus on inhaling and exhaling so you can ground yourself and reduce when your mind wanders. In and out, in and out, in and out...
If you’re having a hard time meditating on your own, you may want to start with guided meditations. You can search for guided meditations on YouTube, or you can utilize a popular app like Headspace or Calm. Guided meditations are helpful because they serve as a sort of "blueprint" for meditation. If you get easily distracted by your thoughts, guided meditations can help bring you back to center so you can focus on meditating.
If you don’t like guided meditations, consider walking meditations! Walking meditations are the opposite of what people view as "traditional mindfulness meditation." Instead of sitting down cross-legged and closing your eyes to meditate, you will actually conduct this meditation while walking.
Walking meditation can be helpful to people who struggle with restless thoughts and fidgeting because it gives their thoughts a cadence and a pattern of breathwork from which to follow. Plus, many people find being outside to be naturally calming and soothing, which can lead to a greater ability to relax and be in the present moment.
If you have a hard time falling asleep at night, sleeping meditation may be the way to go! Sleeping meditation is an easy way to get started with meditation practice because you have a built-in time to do so...right before you fall asleep!
Want to know a little bit more about what this looks like? Well, have you ever counted sheep before? If so, you’ve (unofficially) practiced sleep meditation! You will essentially be doing the same thing, but instead of counting sheep, you will be counting your breath exhales and inhales. Keep repeating that until your body feels relaxed enough that you fall asleep.
So, there we have it! Seven ways to get started with meditation that will help us reduce stress, slow aging, improve concentration...and finally focus. Sounds good to us! Now, can meditation help us crush our work assignments, meal prep, stay focused, exercise, be a productive member of society, and have time to relax?
Hey, we can dream, right?