Meditation for Dummies
Okay, I'm kidding about the Dummies part, but the best meditation tips will be simple. Check below for helpful tips.
Why Should I Meditate?
Meditation is mind training, so it is not easy, however practice makes progress. Research has shown meditation to improve emotional regulation, concentration, impulse control, overall sense of well-being. It's not exciting like having a hot date, however it can help you feel calmer, reacting less to events and loving more.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice of quieting the mind and focusing inward. It is learning to calming your mind and bringing discipline to your internal state. Rather than having your mind run you, you can run the show. How cool is that?
How do I Meditate?
1. Ground yourself. The first step is to do some type of grounding exercise to help your brain focus. A common way to start is to focus on your breathing. This may not be enough for the undisciplined mind (which includes most of us). I typically have clients focus on the muscles in their face and jaw, neck and shoulders, arms, chest and on down the body. I guide them to non-judgmentally notice any tension, and let go as they exhale. This body scan is one technique. Some prefer focusing on a candle, music, or tightening and relaxing muscles.
2. Choose a focus. After you are grounded, choose something to focus on. The stereotype is “empty your mind of all thoughts.” Yeah, right. Kudos to the monk with years of practice, but for the majority of us, I’d suggest more guidance. Even a monk’s chant gives him more to focus on: the sound, the reverberation in their chest. I prefer to follow music, a guided meditation on YouTube, or repeating a useful phrase.
3. Reprogram your thinking. Your meditative practice can be as simple as noticing your breathing. However, you can use your meditation to change deep seated beliefs that you struggle with. Say you have a low self esteem although you logically know you bring value to relationships. Find a phrase that helps you remember your value, then repeat it slowly in a meditative state. This repetition and focus will help your mind to understand more deeply. This is one method you can use to transform a thought into a belief. Any spiritual text or saying that inspires or helps you can be used in this way.
What else should I know?
Meditation is simple, but it is not easy. Mind training requires discipline and diligence. For this reason, it is vital that you go easy on yourself. Catch your self-judgments about not doing it right. It is common for my clients to feel they’re messing up when their mind wanders. This will happen. So how do you know your practice is successful? I ask my clients if they’re more relaxed. They tell me yes. I ask if their minds have slowed down. They tell me yes. I tell them it was successful. You are training your mind to relax on command and to relax your body on command.
Remember, practice makes progress. Over time, you can improve your focus and train your brain to think differently and be less reactive. You can experience calmness and on occasion, receive great insight or breakthroughs through meditation. Some have profound spiritual experiences.
It takes time, but you’re going to be older whether or not you’ve trained your mind to be peaceful. Which would you rather have? In the end, the juice is definitely worth the squeeze.