Since starting to do yoga and listening to Gabrielle Bernstein’s guided meditations I’ve been convinced that meditation does good for the mind. Scientific research has shown that meditation can improve your mood, boost immune system, improve regulation of stress hormones, enhance the ability to empathize, calm anger and anxiety, and help you cope with pain and depression. Here are my 7 easy steps to get your started on your meditation journey.
My 7 steps to meditation practice:
1) Make it a formal practice.
You will only get to the next level in meditation by setting aside specific time (preferably two times a day) to be still. Even if it’s just for 30 seconds. You got to start somewhere.
2) Start with the breath.
Breathing deep slows the heart rate, relaxes the muscles, focuses the mind and is an ideal way to begin practice. You can think words if that helps you to stay focused. For example I fall asleep repeating these two words in my mind while breathing: “let” (inhale) and “go” (exhale).
3) Stretch first.
Stretching loosens the muscles allowing you to sit (or lie) more comfortably. Additionally, stretching starts the process of “going inward” and brings added attention to the body.
4) Notice frustration creep up on you.
This is very common for beginners. When this happens, really focus in on your breath and let the frustrated feelings go. Start again.
You don’t have to be sitting cross-legged beneath a Bonzi tree. Beginners should be more experimental and try different types of meditation. Try sitting, lying, eyes open, eyes closed, with music, in the nature (beach, forest) etc.
6) Generate moments of awareness during the day.
Finding your breath and “being present” while not in formal practice is a wonderful way to evolve your meditation habits. When I’m at work I take few deep breaths and express gratitude every time I make another cup of tea or when I see numbers 11:11 or 1:11.
7) Meditate early in the morning.
Without a doubt, early morning is an ideal time to practice: it is quieter, your mind is not filled with the usual clutter, and there is less chance you will be disturbed. Make it a habit to get up 5-30 mins earlier to meditate.
I also use meditation to help me fall asleep peacefully at night. I use the words “let go” together with my breathing practice so I don’t bring all the negative thoughts and anxiety into bed with me. I do this lying down so I can fall asleep mid-meditation. Works every time. There might be correlation between losing the ability to focus on meditation and your inability to focus in other areas of your life.