Meditation benefits are especially for busy people
“How do I meditate for the first time?” is a normal question. Newcomers to meditation can be under the impression the objective is to have a blank mind. This is not the case.
Attempting to meditate with that as your objective is a sure route to disenchantment. If you already experience anxiety, this objective will only add to it.
So you’re here and you’re reading this, so you are mildly curious.
Maybe you’ve tried meditation before, perhaps the growing body of scientific evidence of its benefits has encouraged you to look into it.
Any number of paths may have led you here. Let me just start by saying, ‘Welcome, so glad you’re here!’
I like information chunked into bite size morsels so that I can absorb and move on. I’m far from expert but I’ve overcome some hurdles that I want to share so you can avoid them and a few lessons learned.
With that in mind, here we go:
Meditation Practice is just that: practice.
Understand what you’re in for: By this I mean it is called a practice for a reason. Our brain has had many years of supremacy and keeping us on a short lease; developing your ability to put a bit of space between your thoughts and the rest of your being doesn’t happen right away.
Give yourself options: There are any number of ways to meditate. The most straightforward way is to pay attention to your breath, as I’ll explain in a bit. Other options are to follow some guided meditations. I’ve also included a link for a wonderful free 7-day introduction to meditation and mindfulness.
Location: Somewhere comfortable, with minimal distractions. Natural lighting or lights on.
Posture: Be comfortable. Period. Speaking from personal experience, you can meditate in bed but you can get too comfortable and fall asleep. For that reason, I prefer sitting but I don’t win any awards for posture. Once you’ve sorted yourself into a position of being comfortable, pause to see if there are any small adjustments to increase your comfort. Maybe you’re holding some tension in your shoulders and don’t realize it, perhaps your ankles are crossed and seem comfy now but won’t be in another minute. You get the idea.
Length of time: That is up to you, but don’t set yourself up for failure. Start by setting an alarm for 2 minutes. (If you use your phone, put it out of reach with notifications turned off. Minimal distractions, right?)
Frequency: As with all practices, consistency is best. One minute daily is better than 7 minutes once per week. Two minutes daily is even better. One minute, twice daily… But, it is your practice and you are in charge.
Okay, so you’re all set up, lights-check, alarm-check, comfy-check . Now what?
That’s it? Yes. Mostly.
“… feel your breath—or some say “follow” it—as it goes out and as it goes in.
…Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing this—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—return your attention to the breath.
Don’t bother judging yourself or obsessing over the content of the thoughts. Come back. You go away, you come back.
That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accrue.”
—From Your Guide to Meditation (you’ll find the link to this free resource below)
If you prefer to start with some guided assistance, I recommend the free 7 day guided sessions by Melli O’Brien (Mrs. Mindfulness) The link is also below.
My Meditation Obstacles and Key Lesson Learned
My biggest hurdle: Worrying that I wasn’t meditating properly: My mind wanders, I don’t realize my mind has wandered, I’m aware of my mind wandering but don’t seem to be able to pay attention to the breath, I start to feel anxious because I don’t seem to be doing it properly….” aargh.
My 2 key lessons learned: There is no wrong way to meditate! Wow, was that ever a liberating discovery. Seriously, I was getting so anxious during my first efforts to meditate that I think it was counter-productive.
Whatever you are experiencing is what you are experiencing and that is how it should be. Your mind will wander, regularly, somedays more frequently than others. The practice varies from day to day. You need to be kind to yourself, smile a little when you realize your mind has drifted and gently bring it back. This is an ongoing element of the practice.
Second key lesson: Meditation is not about trying to get to any particular mental place or attain a certain state. You are always exactly where you need to be. There is no where to go because you are already there. Another liberating moment!
So there we have it. I have to say there is a bit of irony to my effort to provide a quick and dirty guide to meditation. There is a well-known but, as far as I can determine, unattributed quote: “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you're too busy, then you should sit for an hour.
I hope you’ll find that these introductory tips will get you started. If you’d like to continue learning in bite size bits, you can follow me here. You may want to share this with a friend so that you an both get started and support each other. Whatever you do, remember it is all good. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And, be kind to yourself!
Until the next time…
Helpful Mindfulness Resources
This is a great post. I particularly like the tips on how to build a habit of meditation.
Melli O’Brien smoothly leads beginners into practice. By signing up you receive a free link to 7 days of Mindfulness Course including 2 free meditation audios.
This is a free pdf guide to meditation from www.mindful.org which is another wonderful resource.
Mindfulness activities and Mindfulness art are my principal interests. Besides painting, I wrote and directed short films. I’m also a certified training manager and designer. These skills dovetail with my longstanding interest in Mindfulness, meditation and life-long learning. I create emotional paintings that are not only beautiful but which support and enhance a Mindfulness practice. I invite you to join me on my mindfulness journey as I post about all things Mindful including best practices, great links, tips and strategies.