If you want to know how to meditate, as a beginner there are many obstacles to this seemingly effortless task. A lot of us have many misconceptions about what meditation is or isn’t, which can inhibit our ability to relax or even want to try.
Our brains are naturally predisposed to wandering. Usually, what happens is if we try to focus on anything, completely, for more than a few seconds our brain just randomly fires out another thought.
Which can be frustrating, especially for beginners who believe they must “empty their minds of thought”.
How To Meditate; Easy Tips To Make Meditation Easier To Achieve!
Let’s face it, breathing can be boring. How can you concentrate on something you do ALL the time without even noticing when you have a million and one things to think about that are happening in your life already?
For beginners, a typical meditation session might go like this:
Close your eyes, sit comfortably either on a chair or even lying down, and begin counting your breaths.
Inhale one, exhale two, inhale…
“Am I doing this right?”
Inhale four… “If I miss a count do I start over at one or just keep going?”
Inhale one, inhale two… “Did I remember to pay the car tax? I probably did, I’m pretty good with paying my bills. Unlike Sally, she’s always… Dangit, I got distracted, okay startover.” Inhale one, inhale two…
How To Meditate; It Gets Easier With Practice
If you’re a beginner, it will probably be comforting to know that it can still be a struggle for experienced meditators. This is especially true during busy or turbulent periods in one’s life.
The good news is, there are some specific things you can do to help you focus and reduce the frustration while you develop your meditation practice.
In this article, I would like to offer three tips to help you with your practice.
How To Meditate; Three Tips Every Beginner Should Know:
- Observe and don’t try to force or control,
- Be compassionate and non judgemental, and
- Enjoy yourself
First, don’t force or try to control your breathing. Just notice that it is happening.
When learning how to meditate this is a mistake that a lot of beginners make. Many beginners to meditation alter their breathing in an effort to focus on it, whether consciously or unconsciously.
When that happens what results is an often irregular and exaggerated breathing pattern. Doing this, can actually inhibit your meditation rather than help it.
Ideally, you simply want to “watch” your breathing. I try to give the example that your brain is like an 8 lane highway, and your thoughts are all the cars. Instead of clearing the road of cars, what you’re trying to do is simply pull the car over, get up on a bank and watch the cars go by. WIthout judgement.
You don’t have to exert any additional effort. Just wait and observe.
The way you pull the car over, is by counting your breaths or listening to a guided meditation.
How To Meditate; The MOST IMPORTANT Tip, Be Compassionate With Yourself
As we’ve been discussing, if you’re just starting out, it’s not an easy thing to do to concentrate on one’s breath.
It’s very important not to berate yourself when your mind wanders (because it’s inevitable) or if you catch yourself controlling your breath. Simply thank your subconscious for the thought and return to your breath.
If I keep having the same thought, I try to visualise taking the thought, putting in a cardboard box then putting the cardboard box onto a cloud and watching it float away.
It is best to softly bring yourself back to your practice as soon as you notice you’re wavering.
Don’t get down on yourself and start thinking, “I can’t do this. This is never going to work for me.” Just brush it off and return to your meditation because you CAN do this. You can. You just aren’t used to it.
Embracing negative thoughts do nothing to help your practice and waste your time. Be compassionate with yourself.
When Your Mind Wanders, You’re Actually Making Progress
Meditation is a skill. And like most skills, it requires practice.
When you learn how to meditate, your mind will likely wander more in the beginning. However, you shouldn’t give up.
It will get better and easier.
You will realize fewer mistakes over time and you will learn to recover from them more quickly. Sure, you will still have challenges and even slumps from time to time but you will also have more successes and it will make a huge impact on your mental health.
How To Meditate; Enjoy Your Practice
Even though meditation may be tough at times, daily meditation can greatly enhance your life by completely transforming the quality of life you have. I speak from experience. Many years ago, I went from someone who existed on automatic negative thinking then I discovered meditation, self compassion and therapy and my life completely changed.
These techniques were so impactful, I went back to school to become an art therapist and transformative life coach so I could share these impactful techniques with you.
Don’t rate yourself and expect to progress or improve to a particular degree or within a particular time frame.
This is a quote I keep front and centre when I try something I’m not used to, and it might help you as you learn how to meditate:
“I know and trust that this will all work out for me, no matter what”
No matter what else is going on in your life, your meditation time can be your escape. As a Zen master once said,
“It’s just you and your breath and then it’s just your breath.”
Breathe In, Breathe Out and Forget Everything Else
Now you know how to meditate, with compassion and grace.
If life is hectic, or you’re busy or preoccupied with issues or challenges, even if you can only find ten or fifteen minutes to be alone with your breath, enjoy it.
I hope these tips will help you to enhance your meditation experience. They have certainly proved to be invaluable in my own practice over the years.
Of course, I still struggle from time to time with the very same issues we’ve discussed here but they occur far less often than they used to.
But through observing rather than controlling, being compassionate to myself when I falter, and enjoying my special time alone; I have made my life much fuller and enjoyable!
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