By Laurie Desjardins
Meditation is a wonderful way to calm your mind, clear your thoughts, and bring you to peace with the world. It is also a deeply personal experience, and requires your complete concentration. If you’re new to meditation, or looking for a way to refresh your routine, here are a few tips for getting started.
Location, location, location
Where you meditate is almost as important as how you meditate. You should find a place that has good feelings and memories for you, and that resonates with your spirit. It should be quiet, and preferably outside, which brings your spirit closer to nature.
There are group meditations, and a group meditation can have good energy and enhance your own personal meditation. However, you should not try to meditate where other people will be a distraction. Meditation is all about connecting with your own spirit. If being around other people will make that difficult, then you should meditate alone.
Be choosy with your time
When you’re meditating, especially the first time, make certain that you have no time constraints. It’s very challenging to find peace and stillness the first time you do it, and that basic “I need to…” thought nagging at the back of your mind will make it nigh impossible to reach the stillness necessary for meditation. Time goes very quickly when you meditate, so give yourself that freedom.
Also, make sure other people know what you’re doing, and turn off your cell phone to prevent further distractions from coming up.
Breathe in, breathe out
Once you’re in a comfortable position, begin deep breathing and gently close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose, expand your lungs, slowly and count to five. As you breathe in, feel your chest and stomach expand. Feel the air coming in through your nose, down your throat, into your chest, and hold it.
As you hold your breath, feel the fullness and energy of your body completely using the oxygen. Breathe out, count to five again and feel the air push out of your body. As you breathe out, feel your chest and stomach contract and relax, getting rid of all the used air and preparing for a big, fresh new breath. Hold it and find the perfect stillness there.
Repeat the breathing as many times as necessary to get into the meditative zone. Don’t hold it so long that you’re gasping for air, or are rushing for the next breath. Just breathe deeply, slowly and rhythmically.
Relaxing body and spirit
The hardest part about meditating is having the patience with yourself to sit through your mind’s wanderings. In the beginning a lot of strange sensations and thoughts may come to the surface. Simply let these wash over you without judgment or fear. Shocking images may pass before your eyes, you may hear sounds that frighten you, and difficult emotions may arise. Acknowledge these emotions, but to not allow them to rule your spirit. Allow these waves of sensations to pass, and float back into that clear meditative state.
At first, even your body may rebel against relaxation and stillness. You may even feel cramped and edgy at first. Simply focus on your breathing and allow the tranquility and peace to flow into your limbs and relax them slowly.
The mind isn’t used to being harnessed, and that makes your first meditation very challenging. Just be patient and wait it out. Eventually your mind will settle into the stillness, like a bouncing ball slowly coming to rest. Once it’s trained, your mind will crave the freedom it has found in meditation.
A few final tips
It helps to make a commitment to meditate at the same time every day and do it no matter what. Meditation must have first priority in this case, or else your mind will start to come up with all kinds of excuses. Also, that way it becomes a habit for your body, so meditation becomes easier each time you do it.
Meditating helps you de-stress, reconnects you with your spirit, and helps you to find the calm in your world. If you can be patient and truly focus on it, then you will find how truly beneficial meditation can be.
Laurie Desjardins is the creator of Zen Sticks, an eco-friendly meditation tool available at www.SleepingTiger.org. Laurie is dedicated to preserving nature while helping people find peace and tranquility in their personal environment. A portion of all proceeds earned through Zen Stick sales are used to support My Brothers’ Keeper, Laurie’s tiger sanctuary.