Meditation can be tricky when you’re first starting out, many of us have unrealistic expectations on how it should be and therefore decide we can’t do it before we really even try.
One major misconception is that our mind is meant to be completely silent when we meditate and because most of us, especially when first starting, have all these thoughts running around and no idea how to stop them, we get frustrated and give up.
Thoughts is what our mind does, of course when you take the time to stop talking and sit in silence your mind is going to see this opportunity to rant and carry on. Just allow it. Think of it like a small child, eventually it will tire out, it just takes time, patience, and continuous practice.
Meditation is a constant practice, you will have days when it’s easier to sink in and find stillness and days when you feel so chaotic and overwhelmed and maybe you just want to scream or cry. Try letting it out. We have been conditioned to suppress and hold our emotions in, it’s time to express yourself, getting it out will allow you to release it and free up space so you can sit in stillness. Just keep practicing, be kind and compassionate to yourself. You didn’t learn to write, speak or walk in a day, you didn’t finish that university degree in a day, you didn’t learn to cook or play an instrument in a day either. Give it time.
I’m going to give you some tips and things you can try to help you with your practice whether you’ve never meditated before, or you’ve tried it a couple of times, or you’ve been practicing for years.
First and foremost, you want to be comfortable otherwise you’ll find yourself fidgeting and distracted throughout your practice.
Do you prefer to sit cross legged, in a chair, on the floor, or in bed… If sitting isn’t comfortable maybe you’d prefer to lye down, again is it more comfortable to lye down on a blanket on the floor, on a yoga mat, or in bed…
Are you more comfortable at your home, in the living room, your bedroom, or outside… Or would your prefer to go out in nature…
Wear comfortable attire, wearing something super tight that’s compressing your belly isn’t going to help you sit in stillness for a prolonged time. You want to be wearing something that’s comfy, something you can breathe with ease in.
Make sure you’re feeling warm, if it’s in the middle of winter maybe you’ve got the fire or the heater going, maybe you’re all rugged up in blankets. If it’s summer maybe you’ve got the fan or the aircon going and you’re wearing something flowy.
If you’ve got long hair, try wearing it down or have it up loosely.
Can you think of anything else that will make you more comfortable?
Utilize your senses
Surround yourself with things you love, things that make you feel more relaxed.
- Your favorite teddy bear
Play with your senses…
Sound – Have some gentle music playing, something to help you relax. Maybe you would like to try complete silence where you can take note of the natural sounds around you, the sound of your breath, of the birds outside, of life happening outside your home.
Smell – Burn a scented candle, incense, sage, cedar, or something else you love the smell of…
Sight – Use visualisation to help you relax, imagining a particular coloured light filling your body and aura. Visualise a time where you felt the most at peace, visualise your dream reality, visualise people in your life that bring you peace and joy.
Touch – Cover yourself with a soft blanket, feeling the sensations of this softness with your hands. Hold a crystal in your hand and connect to its energy and the sensations it brings.
Taste – Maybe you want to drink or eat something small and experience the sensations of flavour, I find a favorite tea, hot cacao, chai, or tumeric latte quite enjoyable to incorporate in my practice.
What other sensations could you incorporate into your practice? One of the beautiful things about having a human experience here on earth is all of these different sensations we get to experience. We so often take for granted this gift we have been given, make the most of it now.
Meditation calls you to bring your focus to your breath. Many of us have no idea what our regular breathing is like because we don’t take the time to notice. It is interesting that many people of quite shallow breathing habits, as well as uneven breathing, the inhale or exhale being longer than the other stimulating different systems in the body creating different emotional experiences. A balanced breath can help lead you to a more balanced life.
Focusing on your breath can help to quiet your mind, when you get distracted or get lost in your thoughts, your breath is your anchor, it gives you something to come back to. A reminder, it is OKAY to get lost in your thoughts, just know you can come back to the breath again and again, and over time it will get easier to maintain your focus.
Deeply inhale through your nose, feeling the breath move down your throat into your belly, and exhale out an open mouth with a sigh sound, or an “Ahh” sound, this sound encourages you to let go and surrender. Repeat as many times as you need and then return to your natural breath.
6 count breath
Breathe in slowly for 6 counts, follow your breath as it expands your belly, then your chest, and comes up through your throat to the the crown of your head. Hold for 6 counts, and release for 6 counts, following the breath back down. Hold for 6 counts and repeat. repeat this for as many rounds as you wish and then come to your natural breathing, noticing and following your breath.
Alternate nostril breathing
Place your thumb on the left side of your nose, close your nostril, exhale out of your right nostril, and inhale through your right nostril. Release your thumb, place your index or ring finger on your right nostril and close. Exhale out of your left nostril, and inhale through your left nostril. Switch sides, repeat 6 times and then come to your natural breath.
Bring focus to your breath and begin to deepen your breath. As you inhale imagine a feeling of peace entering and filling your entire body, you may like to say the word peace (or a word of something you would like to bring into your being) aloud or in your mind as you inhale. As you exhale imagine releasing anything that no longer serves you, that could be a feeling of frustration, anger, resentment, stuckness, or anything that comes up for you, see yourself letting it go. Continue for as long as feels right for you.
Bring focus to your breath and begin to deepen your breath. Imagine a colourful energy entering your body through the crown of your head, maybe a golden light, purple, or white, any colour that resonates with you. Visualise this energy moving down through your slowly, as it moves through your body see it cleansing and rejuvenating every cell. Feel this energy cleansing your entire being, filling you with love and peace. As it reaches your feet, see the energy exit out of the bottom of your feet and going into the earth taking all that no longer serves you, this could be emotions, thoughts, past traumas, tension, pain, or even a disease. Come back to your breath.
Try out different guided meditations, this can be on youtube, try searching for different ones and try different guides to see what’s right for you. You’ll find different tones of voice and different styles will suit you and some won’t so shop around.
I also recommend trying some in-person meditation classes. It brings a different energy, a different experience, this can help you get started as well as deepen your practice. It’s also nice to get out of your usual space, as sometimes that space can be too loud or may even be triggering different emotions that distract you.
Cleanse your space
It is common for energy to linger, and it can linger for a very long time if not cleared. Old stagnant energy can hinder your practice as well as affect your daily life without you even knowing. Have you noticed that certain places lift your spirits and energy and other places drain and lower your energy? Traumatic experiences, stress, memories (positive and negative), all affect the energy of different places in your reality. As well as other peoples experiences in that space will add to the energy of the place. For example, if you move into a new home, it may be new to you, but the house, if you haven’t built it yourself, has had people and experiences in it previously. Even if you did build your own home, what did that space consist of before? What lived or occured in the space that your new home was built on? Energy lingers. So it is good practice to cleanse your space when you move in as well as on a regular, perhaps weekly, basis as people come into your space and leave behind their energy, you may also bring energy home with you that you don’t want hanging around.
Ways to cleanse you space
- Smudging – Using sage, cedar wood, or incense will help cleanse your space.
- Crystals – Place cleansing crystals around and in your home, clear quartz is a great cleansing crystal, they’re are many other crystals to choose from that will also help bring in different energies that you wish to.
- Meditation – Using meditation and visualisation to cleanse your space and your aura.