Tips for Starting a Meditation Practice

Meditation may seem foreign or intimidating if you have never tried it.  Learning to meditate is actually very simple and can be as natural as breathing.  For the sake of stress relief, the purpose of meditation is to calm the mind and relax the body by inducing the parasympathetic relaxation response.  The more often you do it, the better the results.  Below are some tips to help you get started.

  • Find some quiet time by yourself that will be uninterrupted.  This could be in the morning before you get out of bed or in the evening before going to sleep.
  • Get comfortable by sitting on a cushion, chair, or lying down on your back with your spine straight.
  • Set the intention of “being” rather than “doing”.  You can set other intentions such as letting go, giving your mind and body permission to relax, connecting with yourself, etc.
  • Start by noticing your breath and how it feels in your chest, belly, nostrils or wherever.
  • Continue to focus on your breath, moment by moment and breath by breath.
  • You may notice that your breath begins to change as you give it attention or that you begin to feel sensations in your body by giving it your awareness.
  • You may notice your mind wandering and if so, just notice without judgment as this is what minds do. 
  • This awareness and acceptance can assist with detaching from thoughts and prevent you from getting carried away by them.
  • Observe what is going on and what you are experiencing, without judgment, for that is the moment of awareness. 
  • You can bring your awareness back to your breath over and over, as necessary. 
  • Initially, this practice can take time to get used to.  It requires patience, self-compassion and appreciation for attempting a new practice and taking the time to nurture yourself. 
  • When you are finished be sure to ground yourself by bringing your awareness back to the room and into your body by noticing your feet on the ground and how your body feels as you move. 
  • Following guided meditations can be helpful and relaxing as you begin a practice.  For your convenience, complimentary guided meditation downloads can be found on our website.     

 

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Mindful Living

Life can be a meditation if living is done mindfully and with intention in each moment.  According to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, meditation expert, “mindfulness is the practice of experiencing reality in the present moment through awareness”.  This requires slowing down and being fully present in the here and now.  We often get caught in the stories cycling in our minds about past events or thinking about the future.  We can learn from the past, but it is gone and does not serve us to dwell there.  Thinking about the future can be helpful for the purpose of planning, however can create fear and anxiety regarding the unknown.  The future is not reality and has not yet happened.  The present, the moment of here and now as it is experienced, is the only moment that is real.

One can experience great peace and acceptance by living in the present moment.  There are many gifts and much beauty missed in the present moment because we can find ourselves identifying with the stories played out in our minds regarding the past and/or future.  This is part of the human condition and there is no reason for self-judgment as the purpose of the mind is for thinking.  Over-identification with our thoughts can be counterproductive as they are often driven by emotion and based upon opinions and judgments rather than on reality.  Getting out of our minds and fully living in our bodies through experiencing can be liberating.  In upcoming blogs I’ll explain the benefits of meditation and give tips on how to begin a meditation practice.      

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