Beginning your meditation journey can be a touch overwhelming. Where do you start, exactly? How do you know if you are doing it right? Which type of meditation should you start with?
To ease your worries and ensure you have enough information to be successful in meditation, here is a list of steps to follow for basic mindfulness meditation. Also included are the reasons why each step is important to a beneficial meditation.
Select and Set Up Your Environment for Your Meditation Journey
Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed – somewhere that feels comfortable for you. Many people use their own bedroom or a secluded place in nature. If you don’t have a private place of your own – get creative. I once utilized a bathroom for a 10 minute meditation when no other option was available.
Set up your environment by removing potential distractions. Next, turn down the lights or use candles so your eyes are comfortable. Turn off your phone’s notifications. And, if it appeals, light incense or diffuse essential oils. The goal is to create an atmosphere that appeals to and calms your senses.
Create a peaceful atmosphere
When you are meditating for the first time, you will find yourself easily distracted. This is normal for beginners. Taking the time to set up your environment is essential to ensure a successful session with minimal interruptions. If you choose to use incense or essential oils, your brain, over time, will associate that smell with meditation. You will find that whenever you smell that particular scent, your mind will want to slip into the meditative state.
Find a Comfortable Position
It’s important to be comfortable while meditating. Sit on the bed, on a pillow on the floor, or in a chair. The goal is to find a position that will not encourage any pain from old injuries or make your limbs fall asleep – you want your fluids to flow well. Make sure there is a clear area around you. You may also lie down. But beginners should avoid this. It is very common for new practitioners to fall asleep when they first meditate!
Set Yourself Up for Ease and Safety
When first learning to meditate, you want to be as comfortable as possible and avoid collision with surrounding objects, if you do fall asleep. The more you practice meditating the easier it will be to start and control. For example, You can meditate while standing in line if you want. For now, set yourself up for ease and safety.
Focus on Breath Control
This is where the actual meditation journey begins, with a breathing exercise which will be the majority of the actual meditation.
1) Gently Close Your Eyes
Keep your body loose. None of your muscles should be tensed as this will lead to discomfort.
2) In an Easy and Controlled Manner –
breathe in for five seconds. Hold your breath for two seconds. Breathe out for five seconds. Hold for two seconds. Repeat this breathing pattern throughout your session. Focus on breathing.
3) Do Not Restrict Your Breathing
When holding your breath, do not tighten your throat muscles. That will restrict your breathing. Instead, keep those muscles from pushing or pulling air. Let them rest where they are and breathe.
Your Meditation Journey Begins: Entering the Meditative State
The rhythmic controlled breathing is good for slowing your heart rate. It also provides a smooth cyclical pattern on which to focus. Focusing on a steady rhythm encourages your mind to calm. The repetitive nature of the breathing pattern and the physical act of breathing are not so complex that you need to actively think.
Your normal waking state is in the Beta range of brainwave patterns. When you achieve a hypnotic or meditative state, your brainwaves are in the Alpha range. Don’t get too overwhelmed here, these are names for the speed at which your brainwaves cycle. Beta is faster than Alpha. When mediating, achieving alpha brainwaves is the goal.
4) Forget About Time
As you continue your breathing pattern, allow yourself to surrender to the sensations you are feeling. Don’t worry about time. It takes as long as it needs to. Try to forget about time all together. Be in this moment and feel whatever it is you are feeling.
5) It’s Okay to have that Sinking Feeling
While you cycle through your breathing, you may feel as though you are sinking. This is a common sensation during Alpha state. Some report hearing specific sounds or having a muscle twitch. These things are normal.
6) Be Present and Aware in Your Meditation Journey
During this phase, you want to drink in the experience. Be aware of the sensations of your body and mind. If your monkey mind (wandering thoughts) tries to run off on a tangent – reel it back in. Recenter your focus on your breathing.
7) Experiment With What You Are Feeling
Try to feel beyond your skin into the atmosphere, becoming aware of the subtle movements of air currents in your environment. This is the real heart of the meditation session – the controlled brainwave state that you created.
Remember the Sensation of Your Meditation Journey
Try and remember how the sensation of experiencing the alpha brainwave state feels. This way you can recognize it in the future. Not only can you recognize it, but you can choose to feel it and in doing so put yourself back into the alpha state sooner.
8) Return to Wakefulness
After you feel it is time, begin to return yourself to the mental state of waking consciousness. Change your breathing back to something more natural, or even increase your rate of breath a little. You will feel as though you are rising back to the surface of the mental water. Open your eyes, take a deep breath, and do or say whatever you feel is a proper way to close out this meditation.
Congratulations you have successfully begun your meditation journey!
Reflect on Your Experience
Make sure you are awake and aware before you start moving around again. There could be times when your limbs fall asleep while you are deep in meditation. You don’t want to try to walk on a numb leg. This is also a good time to reflect on what you experienced, and take notes of it if you choose.
This was a simplified form of basic meditation. There are many other meditation techniques and methods out there with which to experiment. If you find you are having trouble remembering each step, you might want to start with an audio guided meditation. You can find these online for free. It is as easy as going on to YouTube and searching “guided meditation for beginners”. You will find a wealth of audio tracks with soothing music and guided narration to make your meditation easier to follow.
Your Meditation Journey
Meditation of any kind is beneficial to your mental and physical health. The more experience you have meditating, the easier it becomes and you will find yourself looking forward to your next meditation session. As you become more experienced with mediation, you will discover the ultimate destination of your meditation journey – the joy that peace of mind brings.
Do you practice meditation? If so, what advice or tips would give to a beginner? If you have questions, concerns, or other comments, we’d love to hear from you as well.
Related article: 5 Health Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
Written by contributing writer C.R. Smyth
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