Meditation is becoming more and more popular as a way to de-stress, relax and quiet the busy mind. Once, it was used only by monks of certain religions as a way to connect with their God and figure out the world. But now, many people are now starting to incorporate meditation into their day-to-day lives. The problem is they don’t know where to start or just can’t seem to figure it out.
To begin with, meditation is not just about sitting in a cross-legged position and repeating the mantra, “om”. Although that is a good starting point. And contrary to popular belief, meditation doesn’t mean having a clear mind with no thoughts at all. The real goal of meditation is to be able to view your thoughts and emotions from a distance.
If that sounds confusing, don’t worry. All practitioners of meditation start out like that. It’s a difficult process that takes time, practice and patience to ultimately “get it.” In fact, meditation is not something you can master. It is something that you can always progress at and find new depths in which to explore. Here are three important tips to keep in mind when beginning meditation.
Have a meditation space
It’s important to have a spot somewhere in your house or even out in nature where you feel comfortable and where there isn’t anything to distract you. You don’t have to create a specific room for meditation as it can be done anywhere. But, you don’t want some place that is quiet, peaceful and comfortable.
Meditation requires sitting or laying down for extended periods of time. You always want to make sure that you’re warm and have something comfortable to sit or lie down on.
If you live in a city, it can get quite noisy so you’ll want to try and reduce the amount of noise you hear. Either by going into a room that is relatively quiet or by putting on some quiet meditation music.
Places outside, in nature, can also be a great place to practice meditation. The fresh, clean air and the soft sounds of nature help with relaxing your mind and allowing you to feel more at peace with your surroundings.
Concentration vs. Mindfulness
There are several types of meditation but for the purposes of beginning meditation, we’ll talk about the two most popular ways: concentration and mindfulness.
Concentration meditation is the most popular for beginners because it requires focus and gives the meditator something to aim for. Usually, people repeat a mantra, such as “om”, or they focus on specific things like the breath. The goal of concentration meditation is to clear your mind and not think of anything. Using a mantra or following the breath is supposed to help with this.
Mindfulness meditation is the opposite. With this type of meditation, you simply let your mind wander wherever it wants to go. You follow your thoughts but you don’t react to them. This can be a little trickier since our emotions are tied closely to our thoughts but it’s good to practice every now and then. But by practicing this type of meditation you can learn to separate your emotions and thoughts leading to peacefulness inside and control of outside reactions.
People starting out with meditation tend to be very tense so it’s important that you try to relax. This has a lot to do with your surroundings and how you’re feeling when you go into your meditation. If you are feeling very negative or stressed, try doing a few simple stretches or movements to release that negativity. Try to enter into the mediation as calmly as possible.
The way you position yourself is also important. Many people think meditation has to be conducted sitting up but it can also be done lying down or even leaning against a wall. Notice how your body feels that day and adjust your position to match that. Don’t push yourself to sit if you’re feeling tired and don’t force yourself to lie down if you’re feeling more energized.