Meditation: 5 tips for beginners & what it means to me

I’ve written about meditation a few times before, even making it one of my life tips, and I’ve come a long way since I started a couple years ago. I’ve incorporated what I’ve learned and picked up from various sources and tailored it to best fit me.

The most well known image of meditation is completely quieting the mind and sitting in a lotus position. This was nowhere near possible for me my first (or second, third, forth, fifth, tenth, etc.) time meditating and I highly doubt many others can master it on their first few tries either. Only now, after two years of meditation, am I getting close to that image. Having said that, meditation is so much more than that simple image.

Meditation has been proven to give countless benefits and enrich peoples’ lives. It helps add compassion and calm to each day and eliminate or, at the very least, limit stress and anxiety. I wish everyone in the world meditated and that it was taught in schools at a young age. I can only imagine the improvement my life and the world as a whole would have if meditation was a part of the education system worldwide. If you’ve never tried it or have tried and given up (multiple times, like I did), then I urge you to please give it another try. You’ve got nothing to lose, but a whole lot to gain!

I currently try to meditate at least twice a day for about 10 minutes each time. To get to this stage, I suggest the following:

1) Find a comfortable and quiet spot. Especially when you’re first starting out, the spot where you choose to meditate can make it or break it for you. If there’s too much noise around you, it’ll be that much harder for you to find inner peace and you’ll find yourself frustrated and wanting to give up.

2) Now that you’ve found a comfortable spot, it’s time to sit in a comfortable way. The lotus position I mentioned before is a great way to sit while meditating because it is comfortable, helps with good posture and breathing among other factors. I oftentimes sit with straight posture on a chair or bench with my feet on the ground and palms up. I always sit with my hands on my knees, palms up. This helps me feel connected to the Universe and as though the energy transfers better from me to the Universe and vice-versa. (This might sound crazy, I know, but it’s a great feeling and you’ll probably get there eventually if you keep meditating!)

3) At first, set a timer. I’ve tried meditating without a timer, but I’d find myself checking the time way too much and it was a distraction from my meditation. Once I had set a timer, I never had to take a peek to see if I’d reached my 10 minute mark or if I needed to rush and get ready for work/school. I don’t time myself now that I’m at home and am able to meditate out in nature on a daily basis, but it was definitely helpful at the beginning. It may seem near impossible to sit completely still for 10 whole minutes at first so just push yourself to sit for as long as you can. When you feel like giving up, hang on that little bit longer. 10 minutes will be a breeze in no time!

4) Emptying your mind of thoughts immediately on command is no easy feat, but if you take deep breaths and focus on each breath you take, it becomes much easier. If I want to quiet my thoughts immediately, sometimes I have to “let them go“, but, the more I meditate, now I am able to focus on the present moment simply by taking in a deep breath and listening to the sounds around me such as the wind or chirping birds in the distance. Music, like the song I suggested here, is a good substitute if you can’t be out in nature.

5) There are many different types of meditation. One of my preferred forms is compassionate meditation. If silencing your mind proves to be too much effort when you first begin, try compassionate meditation. Compassionate meditation is when you think of someone(s) and send them loving energy. Sometimes I picture someone in my life who I feel needs a lot of extra love at the time, but most of the time I think of my family, friends, acquaintances and then the Earth as a whole.

I hope these tips work for you and that you’re able to reap the wonders of meditation soon. Since I’ve started meditating, I’m a much calmer and happier person. I have moments where I wonder if my meditation practices are getting me anywhere, but when I’m sitting and meditating, I have no doubts… even those few moments in the day are worth every second. Our days are so full and busy and loud that meditation is a welcome break (sometimes I want to sit there all day long). If you meditate, tell me what works for you, how long have you been doing it for, how has it helped you? If you don’t, what are your thoughts on meditation?

(Image drawn using Paper by FiftyThree, Inc.)