You’ve probably been thinking about starting meditation for a while—after all, we’re always telling you how good it is, whether for helping with anxiety, getting a better night’s sleep or just improving your running practice. But how exactly does one start meditating? Do we just close our eyes and hope for the best?
There’s a little bit more to it than that, so we thought we’d get some expert tips on how to add meditation to your daily routine, and what you should be doing when you finally sit down to clear your mind. Hridaya, a meditation teacher and ‘ohhhmmm’ expert at Perth’s Open Space Healing had a wealth of information to give us—so here’s the breakdown on how to kick off your new daily meditation practice.
How To Start A Regular Practice
- Just schedule it into your diary. Go ahead, do it now. Setting aside a dedicated time and setting an alarm will help stop you from getting sucked into the "I don't have time" excuse. Start with an achievable amount of time (say five minutes a day) and build from there.
- Find a meditation bestie and make yourself accountable. Check in with your meditation buddy on a regular basis. You may even like to set a weekly meditation date and reward yourself with a coffee catch up afterwards.
- Track your progress. We are goal orientated creatures, and there is no better feeling than ticking 'complete' on a to-do list.
The Best Meditation Postures To Try
Breaking news: You don't have to sit cross legged to meditate. Liberating, we know. There are so many more ways you can find comfort in your body and enjoy a deep meditation practice.
A few of our favourite meditation positions include:
- Recliner chairs
- In bed propped up by a pillow (we call this one 'beditation')
- On your couch
- Lying out in the sun on a deck chair
- In your car
It's about finding the sweet spot between being comfortable enough that you are not distracted, but not so comfortable that you fall asleep.
How To Quiet Your Mind
How many times have you uttered this phrase: "I can't stop my mind from thinking"? Well we have good news—you don’t have to stop your mind from thinking. In fact, sometimes thoughts in meditation can be beneficial.
Your brain is on active mode most of the day, so should we expect our meditation practice to be any different? Thoughts are a natural part of being human, so they are going to be a natural part of your meditation.
Be cool with having thoughts while you meditate. It is normal, very common and even necessary. Thoughts are a product of stress releasing. So if you have lots of thoughts, you can guarantee you are releasing lots of stress. Who wouldn't want that? By allowing and accepting your thoughts, you create space for them to move out of your nervous system, letting space and peace emerge naturally.
A strategy from a pro is to consider this: Every thought has a beginning and an end. Therefore, it stands to reason that there is a space at the beginning and end of a thought. The key is to become more interested and curious about that space. By noticing the space, you then become a 'watcher' rather than a doer.
That space is the awareness that is able to observe thought (rather than become the thought). That is where peace and stillness live, and where you’ll find that sweet, sweet quiet spot.
Meditation Dos And Donts
There aren't any! Meditation is a safe space without a right or wrong way of doing things, though there are certainly less and more effective ways to meditate. The key to consistency is to make your meditation practice easy, simple and more joyful.
There are three things that are important to consider when taking up a meditation practice:
- The technique should help the mind to focus and be able to still naturally, without force.
- Any teacher you choose should be experienced and walk the talk.
- The teaching should be clear and direct you back to your own experience (rather than something or someone on the outside).
If you still need a bit of assistance, try one of these mindfulness and meditation podcasts to get yourself into the right frame of mind.
Image credit: Afonso Coutinh