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A beginner’s guide to Meditation

Meditation. It’s so hard right? wrong!

 

sandalwood meditation
When I first learnt about meditation I thought it meant clearing my mind and sitting in an uncomfortable position for an hour NOT THINKING. So if you are reading this post because you are a beginner you will probably be thinking the same thing yeah?
And I believe that is why people get scared by it and don’t meditate. And I totally understand, because that was pretty much me up until about a few months ago, even after lectures on the subject in my Yoga Teacher Training and countless attempts to start to meditate.

There is a very good, informative article from Yoga International here, that states: ‘Meditation is the art and science of letting go’

So, if it’s not so scary and difficult why don’t you try to do it?

 

padmasana, lotus pose for meditation

 

I firmly believe in this digital age, which plays havoc with our monkey minds, we should all set aside 5-20 minutes a day to meditate/be mindful or simply just BE, without doing ANYTHING.

Tip: don’t even call it meditation, just do it, call it ‘me time’ or ‘alone time’ or ‘focusing on my breathing time’ (I know, that one’s a not so catchy) whatever, just try it.

So, without further ado, here is my beginner’s guide to meditation, and the methods I use:

First Stop – FOCUS

Firstly, get comfortable in a seated position. Cross legs if you can sit comfortably like this with a straight back. You can sit on a block or a cushion if you find your bottom particularly sensitive to the floor. You can prop your knees up with pillows, cushions, big books even, or use a wall to lean against until the muscles in the back get strong enough to support you (cue to get to that yoga class btw). If sitting cross legs in not happening for you, then sit on a chair with a high back that can support your back.

Hands should be relaxed…that might mean, holding the thumb and forefinger together, lightly place them on the knees, or in the lap.

CLOSE YOUR EYES.

Next step is to observe the breath. Observe what happens when you breathe in and out (inhale and exhale) try to breathe through the nostrils with the mouth closed and from the stomach, keeping the shoulders still.

Next, try to count your breaths and elongate them, so try 4 counts inhale, 4 counts exhale and gradually build on these counts. For a beginner I wouldn’t worry about counting more than 6 or 7 in and out. So hopefully you can now start to feel more relaxed and in tune with yourself and your body, guess what – that’s it! You’ve just meditated. Yep, that my friends is the first step to meditation!!!

So, if pesky thoughts come into your head whilst you are doing this, which they will for sure, that’s ok, just try to stay focused on the breath. You can count the breaths in and out for 108 counts. Or just set an alarm to go off in 5-10 or 15 minutes time.

NEXT STEP: Mantra Meditation

I’m writing about this type of meditation as this is the method I use, and I find it works for me to keep me focused.

A ‘mantra’ is a word or words that are repeated in chanting or meditation. There are many mantras but the ones I have used and would recommend are:

So Hum – this means ‘I am, That is’ or ‘I am all that is’ so basically an inwardly focusing mantra that helps you be present. On the inhale say or think the word ‘So’ and on the exhale ‘Hum’ Repeat 108 times using a mala necklace or set a timer (yep, there’s also an app for that)

  • I use a mala necklace (garland of beads) There are 108 beads plus a larger ‘guru’ bead. You start at the guru bead and so once I have passed through all the beads (moving them with my thumb across my forefinger) and back to the guru bead then I have repeated the mantra 108 times.

 

mala beads for meditation

 

mala beads for meditation

 

More mantra’s (they don’t all have to be sanskrit!!!)

Om Shanti – meaning peace to the universe (more on the Om in a later post)

Let, Go – self explanatory this one, but sometimes we need reminding

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu – means may there be peace on earth and let I somehow contribute towards that peace

Or simply create your own mantra, two words are easiest, but not essential, it can be anything that is personal to you, that means something to you, to help with your self-improvement, or to make you feel focused and relaxed.  For example, Be Kind, I am strong, I am loved, even ‘Just Breathe’ etc etc.

I hope you found these beginner tips helpful – and good luck!

Comment below on your journey to meditation and how you find mantra’s etc. Look forward to hearing from you!