Meditation 101 - All You Need to Know to Get Started
What’s it all about?
Meditation is a technique used to bring our attention to the present moment. Feelings such as anger and fear are related to events in the past and future. We are angry about things that are no longer happening and we are afraid of things that haven’t actually happened yet. As humans, we have a tendency to concentrate our focus on these moments that don’t actually exist. If we can bring our attention to the present, we can navigate our lives in a more calm, effective and joyful manner.
What are the benefits of meditation?
There are many benefits to meditation and the experience varies from person to person, however some general benefits include:
Improvement in quality of sleep
Increase in productivity
When should I meditate, and how often?
Meditation is the best way to start the day. Early morning, before you begin any tasks it is great to sit with yourself even if it’s just for just a little while. Prior to sleeping is another good time to meditate. If you can’t manage either of these, don’t worry - there is no “bad” time to meditate. Do it whenever you can and as many times as you like throughout the day.
How do I meditate?
The intention is not to stop your thoughts, but rather to acknowledge them as they arise without judging the thoughts, or yourself for having the thoughts. When meditating, it is helpful to choose a point of focus to come back to when the mind wanders into the past/future. This could be your breath, or a mantra (this is a word or group of words that you repeat). After you acknowledge the thought, bring your attention back to your point of concentration.
You can sit, stand or move while you meditate. Start off with a short meditation, maybe 5 minutes or less. Gradually increase to 10, 15, 20 or 30 minutes. Here are some meditation practice examples to get you started:
Sit up straight, cross legged, on your heels, or on a chair. Using cushions/books etc. to prop yourself up is helpful. Bring your attention to your breath. As you inhale, count ‘one’, and as you exhale count ‘one’. On the next round, count ‘two’. Keep doing this until you reach ten. If you reach ten, start again from one. Had a thought and lost count? No problem, start over!
Walk slowly, and each time you lift your foot say to yourself “I am lifting my foot”. As you take a step, say “I am taking a step”. As you put your foot down, say “I am putting my foot down”. Whenever the mind wanders, acknowledge the thoughts without judgement and bring your attention back to walking. Do this for 10 minutes.
Have you ever tried to stand still for 5 minutes? It’s quite difficult! Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, the weight evenly distributed between your feet. Have a slight bend in the knees, relax your shoulders, hands by your sides and gaze to the floor 1 meter ahead of you. Try not to move at all. You might find that it’s uncomfortable (and boring) after a few seconds, but try to remain still as you focus on the experience. Gradually increase to 10, 15 minutes (not recommended doing this for longer than 15 minutes).
Meditation can be frustrating at first. It’s important to be compassionate and kind toward yourself, especially as you get started. There is no need to take it too seriously! Eventually, everything you do can become an act of meditation. Carry out all your tasks and interactions with awareness, care and love. After all, we have to do things in this life, why not enjoy the process?
If you have questions, I’d be happy to hear from you! You can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org