I can’t count the number of times I’ve polled a room with this question only to be greeted with sheepish grins:
“I know I should meditate!”
“I want to, but don’t know how!”
“I tried it a few times, but it was just too hard.”
So for all you meditation virgins, for those of you who feel like you tried and failed, or if you meditate regularly and want to mix it up a bit, I’ve compiled my best How to Start Meditating: 10 Easy (Fun & Different!) Ways.
After years of meditating (sometimes for weekends at a time), here’s a few beliefs I’d like to bust about meditation:
- Meditation doesn’t need to be uncomfortable. You can sit in a comfy chair – or even be moving.
- You don’t have to do it for hours on end, or even for more than a few minutes to feel the results.
- Your mind is most likely not going to be thought-free when you start meditating. There is no goal, but meditating does give you the opportunity to slow down, check in and breathe.
- You shouldn’t feel like banging your head on a wall while meditating. There are plenty of ways to make it do-able and enjoyable.
Before I share my 10 Easy Tips, it’s worth knowing why would you bother meditating in the first place?
Both science and spirituality assert that regular meditation makes you happier, healthier, and smarter. How? Meditation helps you:
♥ Decrease stress, anxiety, or sense of overwhelm
♥ Increase feeling centered, peaceful, & fulfilled
♥ Support your heart’s, brain’s, and body’s health
♥ Gain clarity on decisions and challenges in life
Not bad results for a few minutes of silence!
So here they are. 10 Easy Ways You Can Start Meditating:
1. Use a Meditation Timer (and go easy on yourself)
My hands down favorite way to meditate is with the help of the app “Insight Timer.” You can download this on your phone or computer and it lets you pick how long you want to mediate for and then gives you a lovely chime to start and stop so you are not peeking at the clock while you meditate. As a bonus, you can see how many people are meditating around the world using the app. My life is quite full so I set realistic guidelines – I try to meditate for 10 minutes a few times a week. Even a few minutes makes a difference so start slow!
2. Place your hand on your heart.
If you are having a hard time sitting still or slowing down, place your hand on your heart – or stomach. Feel your chest rise and fall under your hand. If you mind wanders or starts chatting, simply bring your attention back to your hand. Ahhh, that’s nice, isn’t it?
3. Use a made-up mantra.
A mantra is a word or sound that you use to help you concentrate when meditating. You’ve probably heard of using the classic sound “om” and there are plenty of complicated mantras in other languages. You can make up one that works for you by answering this question: How do you want to feel right now?
Let’s say you picked peaceful. So use this phrase,
On the inhale: “Peace within me.”
On the exhale: “Peace around me.”
Or simple, “I am peace.”
Repeat. Over and over for as long as you are mediating. Your mind will like you giving it something to do!
4. Don’t like sitting still? Try a walking meditation.
You don’t have to sit down to meditate. If you like being on the move, then try a walking meditation. The key is to walk slooooowly, so you pay more attention to your breath and what’s happening around you. Take one step for every inhale and exhale. Or try to take 10x as long as normal to walk across your yard. You can also pay attention to your senses – what do you see, hear, feel, taste, smell?
5. Meditate doing the dishes.
This eliminates the excuse of “I don’t have time.” Next time you are doing the dishes, bring all your senses into the game: eyes, ears, mouth, nose and hands. Check in with each body part. What do you notice out the window? What sounds are around you? What smells? How does the soapy water feel on your skin?
6. Eat mindfully.
If you eat out all the time and don’t do dishes – or if you want to try eating more mindfully, you can meditate while eating by placing a bite to eat in your mouth and chewing it slowly. Relish the flavors. Feel the texture on your tongue. Take time to breathe in between each mouthful. Slowly. Savor it!
7. STOP at stoplights.
If you are often on the go in a car, every time you come to a stoplight, STOP. Do not pick up your phone. Invite yourself to take a deep breath. Notice if you feel tight, fast or annoyed that you had to stop. Exhale. Let the stoplight be your reminder to give yourself a few minute breathing break.
8. Let yourself be guided.
Guided meditations allow you to relax and fully let go because the guided facilitator tells you what to do. I have several free guided meditations here just for you. And if you want one custom-made especially for you, I can do that too! There are also plenty of free resources on the internet.
9. Find a group.
When you meditate in a group setting, you can more easily drop into the energy of the group. You could say it super-sizes your meditation. If you live near me in North Conway, NH, there’s a lovely weekly group that meets at the Local Grocer that I facilitate, along with other wonderful leaders. You can also look for a MeetUp near you.
10. Ready to go to sleep?
My mom used to use this trick on my brother and me when we were little. Start at your feet and say “Goodnight toes. It’s time for sleeping. You have done a great job today and now it’s time to sleep.” Continue upward with each body part. “Goodnight ankles… goodnight calves… goodnight knees…” As a child doing this meditation, I don’t think I ever made it past saying goodnight to my hips before I fell asleep!
So what about you? Have you ever meditated? What helped you get started? And do let me know if one of these tips helped you!
Let’s all start by taking a deep breath. Ahhh…