Meditation and yoga go hand in hand. Both are ways to balance, focus, and relax. They help one another too. Gaining skill in yoga classes will help you be better at meditation and being good at meditation will help you be good at yoga. The thought of meditating and sitting still for a long time can be daunting, though. It’s surprisingly difficult to do nothing!
Meditation has so many benefits to those that practice it. It has a positive effect on one’s mental state of mind lessening anxiety, lowering stress, and making one feel happy and content. It also affects one’s body by lowering blood pressure and heart rate and improving blood circulation.
If you’re looking to start meditating or are having trouble with it, try these ten tips:
Find a comfortable place to sit, whether that’s in a chair or cross-legged on the floor. If you’re uncomfortable that’s all you’re going to be able to think about. It’s important to make sure you have good posture wherever you sit. You want your spine straight. If you are slumped over you are going to drift. The mind and body are intertwining. A balanced body will mean a balanced mind.
It’s up to you whether you keep your eyes open or closed. Some people find that open eyes allow you to be present. They just gently lower their eyes and let their gaze be soft and unfocused on one thing. To some having their eyes closed means their thoughts drift away.
Others find that having their eyes open is a distracting. They find closing their eyes more effective at making them relaxed. Try experimenting and find out which one works best for you. Whichever one feels better, go with that.
A good tip for anchoring yourself in a moment is to focus on your breathing. Notice the way your lungs fill and empty with each breath. Let yourself feel each exhale and inhale. Don’t worry about regulating your breath either. It’s best just to let it be as natural as possible.
4. Counting Your Breath
Counting your breathing is a great way to settle into meditation. It’s actually an ancient technique for meditation. As you exhale silently count “one”, and go up to four. Counting too high can cause people to focus more on counting than on the moment. Just return back to “one” if you have strayed and found yourself up to “thirty”. Don’t stress about having strayed, just peacefully return back to the start.
Focus, and more importantly being in the moment, is the point of meditation. During our busy day, we very rarely get to enjoy the present. So often we run on autopilot going through tasks without noticing what we’re actually doing. Meditation is a great way to wake up and notice our life and surroundings. Focusing in meditation means paying soft attention to whatever you use to anchor yourself like breathing.
It’s really hard not to get distracted by the jumble of thoughts in your mind when you first start meditating. It can take multiple tries before you can quiet your thoughts. Don’t try to stop them from coming that will just make you anxious and agitated. Instead, just let them quietly pass you by with a polite glance in their direction. If you find yourself going down a thought trail return your focus to your breathing.
It’s really hard to settle into meditation when you have strong emotions pulling at your attention. Emotions tend to breed in the mind, especially anger, shame, and fear. These emotions create stories in repeat in your mind. The best way to escape the stories or memories that accompany these emotions isn’t to ignore them. Instead, focus on the how the emotions make your feel physically. Is there a right band of fear in your chest or a flush heat from shame? Focusing on the physical aspects of the emotion help you escape from mental entanglements and get back to meditation.
Silence is important to relaxation and healing. In the beginning, it might help to use meditation music but in the long run, this will just drown out the mental chatter. Pure silence is the best way to get in touch with our self. Silence will connect you with yourself and your surroundings. Find a quiet place to practice meditation as there is nothing worse than being in a calm trance and getting jerked out of that due to a loud sound interrupting.
A big mistake that first timers make with meditation is going big right out of the gate. Don’t make yourself try to sit there and meditate for thirty minutes or an hour the first time. Just like with yoga it takes time to build up. Start off with anywhere between two and ten minutes to start off with. Don’t keep a timer near you and only go longer if you feel like it. Forcing yourself to sit and meditate will only make you focus on time rather than focus on yourself. The length of meditation doesn’t determine how good you are at it. Some people need longer to get focused and calm them others. Only go for as long as feels right for you individually.
Your place of meditation is important to your success at it. Some people have entire meditation rooms. No matter where you decide to meditate make sure it’s quiet, peaceful, and somewhere special. Light candles, sit on a cushion or have objects of meaning near you. A special place will make it easier to meditate.
The most important part of meditation is to make sure it’s enjoyable. It will take some time to master but like anything if you work hard at it and enjoy doing it the skill will come. Yoga classes are a great compliment to learning how to meditate. Sign up for one today.