The Ultimate Guide for Meditation
Meditation is often seen as a spiritual thing, for spiritual people. Whilst this is true to a certain extent – You do not have to be heavily involved with spirituality to be someone that meditates. Meditation is a natural coping mechanism for every day stresses – It transports you to your calmer and higher self. A lot of people are put off meditating because they think too much and they don’t know how to sit there and not think but, that is the precise point of meditation. It is for people that think too much and with practice and time, helps you to switch off your thoughts and focus on your breathing. We have put this article together to help you know where to start with meditating and the best things to do for it. We have grouped together tips from people that mediate and can offer you some helpful pieces of advice.
Set the Intention
This tip comes from someone that believes setting your intention to mediate makes all the difference…
Set the intention to slow down for 30 seconds, 2 minutes, or 5 minutes and just focus on your breath: breathing in, breathing out. This can be done anywhere…when you wake up in the morning lying in bed, making your morning coffee, when you are on your drive to work, sitting down at your desk before reading email, before a meal, walking the dog, when you’re at the gym, when you’re in the shower…Get the point? It does not have to be on a cushion, legs crossed in a lotus position, eyes closed.
The key is creating the space to focus on the breath, and as you do so, try saying the words, “breathing in and breathing out” inside your mind as you link it to your breath. The breath will calm your brain and calm your body, quieting any emotional triggers and allowing your executive functioning (logic, reason, rationality) to work at optimal levels. And since your mind has a habit of wanting to wander off, which will happen, so just use your breath and those words to help bring you back. Every time you are able to come back to a focal point of attention, like your breath or sounds that you hear, something you’re looking at (try focusing on a flame of a candle), or how your feet feel in your shoes, you are reinforcing your brain to be present.
This will help you to respond and not react to whatever is arising, because when meditating and being the observer of what’s arising you are allowing yourself to pause, see things for what they are and then be intentional in how you want to deal with it.
Meditation becomes easier over time and may even become a formal practice, sitting on a cushion. But in whatever forms feels appropriate and attainable to you, the key is to be consistent. You will eventually create new neural pathways, rewiring your brain for habits and patterns that are going to help you less reactive and distractive, and more calm, present and resilient.
Start small and allow it to grow in time. Be reasonable with what you can consistently practice. Don’t judge yourself if it’s hard or you struggle in maintaining attention. If you focus on some future outcome as a pinpoint of success, you are inherently out of the present moment, which is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. So take a minute and just breathe.
Contributor: Joree Rose
Organisation: Bay Area Mindfulness and Therapy Center
Use a Meditation App
These tips come from people that like to have a bit of assistance when it comes to meditating…
I meditate using an app called SmilingMind. It is on the app store and Google play store. I don’t use it for every session now, but when I was just getting into meditation I used it every time. It is a very good guide and it is also free, unlike the Headspace app.
Contributor: John Price
Organisation: Foxx Benefit Solutions
I use this app, Headspace, to help me when I meditate. Its a really good app that helps drown out outside noise, since I live right by the subway in the city.
Contributor: Max Falb
I meditate with Qigong: Meditation is mental focus that quiets the mind and allows one to reach a higher state of consciousness or spiritual awareness. Another way to say this is that your attention is focused on something so intently that your mind naturally quiets; all other stimuli fades from your awareness; and this allows you to connect more deeply to the source within.
Contributor: Shawngela Pierce
Organisation: Seek Within You
I recommend beginners start with an app like Calm, Breath or Headspace.
The only way to fail at meditation is to not do it. I say to clients, find a meditation style – either through a private teacher, meditation centre or an app – and just stick to it. Do it every day, if only for 5 minutes.
Contributor: Catherine Tingey
Organisation: Purpose and Prosperity Coaching
Now, when at home I use the Calm app which has 7-day guided packs on Happiness, anxiety, stress as well as longer 21-day series. They also have various single packs on things like relationships, forgiveness, and concentration. In summer I head outside, find a quiet spot in the park and listen to unguided tracks from Spotify. I’ve found some of my best practices have been whilst outside amongst nature and highly recommend it.
Contributor: George Day
Organisation: Audio Book Explorers
I meditate with an app on my phone. The one I use is called Insight Timer, though there are plenty of other alternatives. In the app I set the time, usually 10 minutes, and then put in my headphones and try to focus on my breathing.
Contributor: Matt Marrandino
Short Meditation Sessions
These next tips come from people who feel starting small and working your way up is a good way to go…
Most of us spend too much time in a tension mode. This leads to all kinds of physical and emotional problems. Relaxation happens when the brain is not busy (and our brain is busy even during several hours of sleep). When you are looking at the clouds letting your mind drift with them or meditating to quiet your mind, your brain doesn’t have to process a huge amount of information and can focus on healing. If your mind is constantly busy, you are not allowing a key part of healing to occur. If you don’t have time to look at a leaf on a tree or to sit quietly not thinking about anything, this is a sign that your life has gotten out of balance. You have lost control.. Your brain is no longer serving you if it is always active. You have become a slave instead of a creator. But even 5 minutes of relaxation allows us to recharge our mental batteries and this improves our well-being. The best way to get started is to have several mini-sessions throughout the day. During the day, take a short break and sit quietly with your eyes closed. Breathe slowly and deeply for about 5 minutes. Tense and relax all muscles in your body. Breathe in and hold your breath for a few seconds, breathe out and hold your breath again. You will notice that you have no thoughts while you are holding your breath.
Contributor: Milana Perepyolkina
Organisation: Gypsy Energy Secrets
Choose a place where you can meditate regularly—a room, just a corner of a room, or a favourite chair. Set a timer for a short amount of time to start, even for just 2 or 3 minutes. Gradually increase the time as you become more comfortable with the practice until you can meditate for 15 to 20 minutes. Try to make it a regular practice by practising in your meditation place the same time each day, even if just for a few minutes.
Contributor: Joy Rains
Organisation: Joy Rains
Have a Point of Focus
These next tips come from people that believe you should start simple and focus on your something…
Breath focus is at the core of all meditation and is an essential foundational element for meditation practice. Plus, it’s something we all do so it should be the easiest place to begin. Perfect opportunities for this breathing meditation would be while folding laundry or washing dishes. The body is active and the mind is entertained meaning there is some mental processing power required to do the task, but it’s rudimentary enough that it doesn’t require actual focus. That’s what makes it so perfect because
you’re occupying the physical and mental aspects that may try to interrupt
your formal meditation session, allowing you the freedom to focus on whats actually core- the consistent connection to breath. While doing your chore you want to put all of your active focus on a full breath in and a full breath out, actively observing and guiding this process to its fruition, then repeat. Breathing through your nose you want to feel your lungs being completely filled with air, hold for 2 seconds, then breath out through your nose feeling all the air remove from your lungs, hold 2 seconds, and repeat.
Contributor: Matthew Evilsizor
Organisation: Concious Bean
One of the mistakes that beginner meditators often make is attempting meditation without a point of focus. It is a common belief that meditation is about silencing our thoughts and new meditators will frequently get frustrated when they cannot achieve this.
Instead, it helps to go into each meditation with a purpose or intention. Choosing a point of focus allows us to zone in and be more present in a meditative state.
Some ideas for focus points include:
The breath – the breath (or pranayama) is a good place to start because it is something that happens naturally. Simply bringing our awareness to the feeling of the breath coming in and out of the body can bring us into a state of calm.
Music/sound – meditation music and nature sounds can help us to be more mindful. Listening to binaural beats in theta frequency can also assist in getting into deeper meditative states.
A mantra – reciting a mantra either out loud or in your mind is one of my favourite points of focus to use during meditation. You can create your own powerful affirmations that resonate with you and allow you to connect with yourself more deeply.
Visualisation – visualisation can be combined with many of the other techniques to strengthen their effects. For example, while becoming aware of the breath some people like to visualise bright light coming in with their inhale and letting go of excess baggage on their exhale!
Physical sensation – a body scan is a great way to create a deep state of relaxation in the physical body. It simply involves becoming aware of each part of your body and the sensations you feel one by one.
Contributor: Esther Louise
Organisation: Hopeful Lotus
This tip comes from someone that believes you should try Christian meditation which takes on a different view of ordinary meditation…
Meditation takes different forms in society and many people never consider Christian meditation when they think of the topic. Unlike eastern influenced meditation, in Christianity the focus is not to empty your mind but to let it be filled. Scripture encourages Christians to meditate upon scriptures and consider them fully (1st Timothy 4:15). When doing this the Spirit of God can open up deeper meanings and understandings of God and his nature which can lead to life changing revelations. I like to pick a scripture or thought and find a quiet place to give it prayerful consideration. The key thing is to find something to meditate upon. Many people use a devotional or the bible to find verses to serve as the basis of their meditation. Here is a link to a devotional I found particularly helpful.
Contributor: Charles Paisley
Organisation: Faith Assembly Church
Have An Open Mind
This next tip comes from someone that believes the best thing to do is to have no expectations and just see what happens…
I think it is important to go into meditation with the understanding that it isn’t one size fits all. There are many different techniques and styles that you can learn. What works for one person may not work for someone else, so spend some time and find what works for you. It is also important to realize that meditation doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. With different techniques, you can drop into a state of meditation in an instant. Meditation can happen when your eyes are open even, when you’re walking, or washing dishes.
Contributor: Gin Carter
Organisation: Yoga With Gin