To say that meditation can be a life-changing practice is not an exaggeration! And while you’ve probably heard friends, family members, or colleagues mention meditation as an excellent way to soothe the body and mind before, you might still be a bit unclear about what it entails. That’s okay! We are here to help.
Because wellness is multifaceted, meditation is one piece in the puzzle. Nevertheless, it’s an important one. When you meditate, you’re practicing offering your body and spirit acceptance, care, and non-judgement.
You might find that meditation allows you to unlock a calmness you haven’t been able to find in the past. You might also find it isn’t for you, and that’s okay, too. Your wellness journey is your own and it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you.
That being said, if you’re even remotely curious about meditation and what it entails, you owe it to yourself to explore this sacred practice that has been around for centuries. There are tools and skills that can help you tune into meditation more effectively.
Today, we’re going to recap some of those tools so that whether you’re a meditation pro or just getting started, you have some skills in your toolkit.
What is Meditation?
First, let’s dive into finding a definition for meditation that feels right to us. It’s important to note that meditation wasn’t created with the intention of changing yourself. Instead, meditation is rooted in training yourself to be aware and get a healthy dose of perspective.
There are some misconceptions around mediation, and we want to address those. When you meditate, you’re not actively trying to turn off your feelings, or your thoughts. Instead, you’re simply noticing them without judgement or attachment, and allowing them to float away as they arrived.
It’s also important to note that meditation is not the same thing as mindfulness, though meditation can give way to mindfulness. In addition to this, meditation is a skill that takes time and patience to learn -- just like any other skill. It’s like riding a bike, or working out and using a muscle you haven’t tuned into working with before. You’re going to need to take your time and practice to get comfortable with it.
When you meditate, you’re returning to your spirit and focusing inward. For this reason, it can seem difficult, or even intimidating. It’s important to remember, as we noted before, that the more frequently you do it, the better you will get at it.
You might not be a pro at meditating when you first start, and that’s fine - expected, even! Part of what makes this such a fulfilling practice is the journey that it brings you on of getting in touch with your inner self.
If you’re wondering why meditation might prove beneficial to you, we have you covered. There are actually an array of reasons why meditation can prove healthy.
When you meditate, you might find that you are:
- Reducing your stress levels
- Connecting better with yourself and others
- Improving your ability to focus
- Reducing so-called ‘brain chatter’
- Understanding your pain (if you are experiencing any)
Of course, it’s important to be realistic about your expectations -- that is, you’re not going to feel cured of all your stress the first time you do it. That being said, it can equip you with some tools that you can apply in other facets of your life. These can ultimately prove useful.
If you’re ready to get started, let’s discuss how exactly you can go about meditating. After, we’ll talk about the tools that you can use to make your practice the most restorative and effective it can be.
How Do I Meditate?
The first thing about learning to meditate is refraining from judging yourself. When we’re first learning a new skill, it can be difficult to not jump to rash decisions about if we like something or if it’s not for us. We urge you to try mediation a few times before you decide if you want to proceed with it or not.
In addition to this, don’t judge yourself or view yourself negatively if it’s hard the first few times! This is a muscle you’re growing as you practice. You should be proud of yourself for taking the first few steps and trying - we sure are proud of you!
Now, let’s walk through the steps of meditating:
Sit down. The first thing you’re going to do is sit down. You should find a spot that feels comfortable and calm for you. It should also be quiet. This might mean your backyard, or your bedroom. Whatever works -- your comfort should be the priority.
Create a time limit. Especially for beginners, setting a short time limit can help make the overall practice feel less overwhelming. You can start with five or ten minutes, and eventually work your way up from there if you so desire. This is another reason why meditation is effective; it doesn’t have to be for a long time to get all the incredible benefits of doing it!
Take notice of your body. Make sure that you’re in a stable, comfortable situation that you can sit in for a while. You don’t want to feel confined or constricted.
Notice your breathing. Breathe in and out. Notice the sensation. Observe, and release. Then again.
If your mind wanders, don’t worry! Notice that and kindly draw your attention back to breathing. If you find that your mind begins to wander during your practice, there’s no need to be harsh to yourself. That’s okay. To get back to your practice, redirect attention to breathing, and proceed. And if you do find yourself obsessing on a thought, refrain from judging yourself. Just return to the practice.
- Observe how you feel at the end of your practice. When you’re ready to finish your meditation, gently open your eyes if you’ve decided to close them, and lift up your gaze. Observe your environment, and how you feel in the moment. Congrats, you’ve officially meditated! You can repeat this grounding, restorative practice whenever you feel you need to.
What Are the Best Meditation Tools?
Now that we’ve outlined how exactly you can meditate, let’s discuss tools that you can use to make your meditation more effective. These tools can also help you form a habit.
The absence of judgement. The most important meditation tool is innate and already in you. It’s a non-judgemental mind. Your mind will inevitably wander sometimes during meditation. You’ll get caught up in your thoughts. Don’t stress it! You’re doing your best. Refraining from judging yourself is the best way you can improve and grow.
Creating a comfortable meditation environment. Some people opt to put down some pillows to sit atop, or find a yoga mat. This can help ease the feeling of sitting so that you’re focused intensely on the practice itself rather than the physical situation. You can also use a meditation specific seat. Whatever supports you in your practice works.
Guided meditations. If you’re struggling at the beginning to meditate on your own, you might consider using a guided meditation. You can either find these on the internet or using a meditation app -- whichever you prefer. Guided meditation can also prove effective for people who are well-versed in meditation. It can be a great way to switch things up.
Fragrance. If you want to engage another one of your senses and feel this would be a way to enrich your practice, you might consider using incense or a candle.
A meditation shawl. If you’re going to be spending a while in the same position, it’s normal if your body gets chilly. You can find that adding a shawl can help reduce the likelihood of this happening.
A meditation bell. These auditory tools can help you tune in or become more aware of the present moment. If you’re a fan of the silence that accompanies meditation, they might not be for you. Once again, consider trying them before you make your decision.
- Music. While some people prefer to be alone with their thoughts in the quiet, music might help center or focus you. Examine what feels right for your meditation, and go with that.
Wrapping It Up
Getting started with meditation is one of the most loving things that you can do for both your body and mind. When you nourish yourself through meditation, you will find that your connection with the entire world around you begins to alter.
Meditation is only one way that you can take care of yourself and contribute to your overall well being. It’s also important to contribute to that in other ways -- such as tending to your physical body by ensuring you’re getting the vitamins you need, taking some time for physical activity, and beyond.
You should be proud of yourself for taking steps towards creating a space for yourself to get in tune with your spirit. Meditation is a beautiful practice, and once you start to see how it enriches your life, you’ll be hooked.