10 Steps To Start Your Meditation Journey
By Steph Wall
It's no secret the benefits of meditation. We have endless studies and anecdotal evidence that meditation can greatly reduce anxiety, stress, difficult emotions and increase awareness, focus and clarity. There are countless apps, courses and dedicated teachers sharing tips and tricks on how to meditate and yet, many of us aren't interested in doing it. Or, for many people, the thought of sitting in silence for more than a few minutes is daunting, boring or scary.
I have been meditating daily for about seven years now, and I can say with confidence that has a massive impact on my mental health. Meditating gives me time to just sit with what is, whether that's clear, positive thoughts, or heavy, uncomfortable ones. It allows me to witness the inner workings of my mind and slow things down. My life, like everyone else's, is busy, fast, and a bit chaotic. However, with meditation, I'm given the space to engage with life differently; slow, steady, focused and quiet. I've noticed that when I start my day meditating, I am able to carry traces of these qualities with me, like the tendrils of the stillness get weaved into the rest of my day. When I don't get the opportunity to meditate, I am quicker to get frustrated and agitated, and generally, don't feel the same sense of peace throughout my day.
Having a dedicated meditation practice did not come easy for me. I had to sit through and achy body and very distracted mind. I did not enjoy it, and yet I persevered because I could recognise the need for something to soften my anxiety. I still have days that are not easy, where my mind is continuously thinking; however, I can forgive myself and let it be a time for me to process what's going on in my mind while staying still and in the quiet. And even though life doesn't get less busy, the ability to create a routine for my meditation and my ability to sit with whatever is present gets easier and easier.
My biggest recommendation is to understand building a meditation practice takes time. Meditating sporadically isn't going to be that helpful, and it won't be easy to see the long term benefits if it's not consistent.
Here are my 10 tips to make meditation a regular practice in your life.
1. Start small. Put aside 5 minutes a day to meditate. When this becomes easy, starting adding more time but keep it realistic. I started at 10 and was stuck on 15 minutes for about 3 years before moving up to 20 and now 30.
2. Do it first thing in the morning. Your brain is hopefully not too busy first thing in the morning, opposed to later in the day when you have a million thoughts running through your mind and a list of things to do. I do it the moment I wake up. I sit up, lean against my headboard and go.
3. Find a comfortable position. You do not need to sit up stick straight like the perfect yogi. Get into a position where you feel the most comfortable and won't need to fidget or feel pain. Sit with your hips higher than your knees and make sure you have support underneath you. Use a chair, pillows, cushions, or even lay down if you won't fall asleep. It could also be useful to do a few stretches first. I suggest having your back leaning against something as your body gets used to sitting upright without moving.
4. Chose a focus. Meditation is not necessarily about having a perfectly still mind; it's more about having a focus to keep the mind occupied so you can sink into the quiet space in the background of the chatter. Whether it's focusing on your breath, sensations in your body, listening to a guided meditation or repeating an affirmation, give your mind something to focus on.
5. Try not to create a war. If you catch your mind wandering, try not to get frustrated or create even more dialogue in your brain. Celebrate the fact that you were able to see your mind wander then go back to your chosen focus.
6. Do it every day. Repeat your meditation at the same time every day, so it becomes a habit, just like brushing your teeth.
7. Communicate what you are doing. If you live with other people or are doing it in a space where others might be around, let them know to give you some undisturbed time. Hopefully, they can also support you and keep you accountable, or better yet, maybe they will want to join you!
8. Be forgiving. It's ok to feel bored or frustrated. If meditation were easy, everyone would do it. It's not easy to be in silence but stay committed. Let yourself sit in the discomfort and remain patient and curious.
9. Begin with guided meditations. I find it's easiest to have a voice to follow during my meditation. There are many great apps like Insight Timer, Waking Up by Sam Harris or Headspace that provide short, free meditations.
10. Set an intention for why you want to meditate. For me, it's to help with anxiety and give myself quiet time. If you can find your reason why, you will have an anchor to come back to when you find yourself not making time or thinking you can't do it.
I have linked below several guided meditation for your use, just click on the image. Enjoy, share and get curious about what is waiting for you in the stillness!