New to Meditation? Here Are Some Helpful Tips
If you have never practiced meditation before, welcome! This article is for you.
If you’re nervous about getting started, you may be able to find some solace in the fact that every meditator has started like you - at the beginning. Meditating is simple yet complex, and it’s easy to be nervous about starting a practice (“how do I turn off my thoughts?!?”, you may ask.). But I’m going to let you in on a little secret, people all over the world for thousands of years have been able to meditate, so no matter what you think about those scatterbrained thoughts of yours preventing you from being able to sit just for a minute, you’re not the exception - you can meditate too! Being able to meditate isn’t something you’re born with, like a photographic memory or something. It’s more like a muscle that you work on and develop over time. That’s why it’s called a meditation practice.
When you’re a beginner and first starting a meditation practice, it’s hard to know which posture and time of day are the best for you, so try them all! I recommend starting with a seated posture in the morning. I find that sitting upright will keep you awake and meditating in the morning has the awesome effect of getting you in a good mood for the rest of the day. Plus you get to check it off the list nice and early before getting distracted by emails and social media and, oh yeah, that thing you said you’d go to with your friend tonight. It’s also important to note that it’s okay to sit with your legs crossed however you want. Don’t squeeze your way into a pose only to feel uncomfortable during your entire meditation, counting down the minutes until you can break your poor limbs out of meditation prison. Whenever you’re not sure what to do, pick what’s comfortable for you.
This can mean sitting in a chair. Or laying down. Or walking. Or standing...you get the picture. It’s up to you! There is no right or wrong way to get into a position to meditate.
And if you already have a zafu and don’t quite know how to use it, here’s a post about how to sit on a zafu meditation pillow.
You’ll quickly notice your thoughts are incessant. Stopping them is not the point of meditation. I don’t know of anyone who can stop their thoughts, thinking is a natural part of being human. What meditation helps us do is focus our attention on a single thing. It can be a repeated word or phrase (mantra) or the movement of your breath, but the point is that you’re trying your hardest to just focus on that one thing. And once your thoughts distract you, because it will happen dozens of times, try to notice that you got distracted then simply bring your attention back to what you’re focusing on. This is repeated over and over during meditation.
Eventually, you will notice you can focus for longer periods of time without being distracted by your thoughts. But, don’t forget, you’re still going to have those thoughts, even after years and years of practice. So don’t be hard on yourself when you get distracted. Everyone is doing it!