How to Meditate - A Beginner’s Guide
It really is important to take the time out for you, to recognise yourself, your state of mind and to feel present and mindful in your day to day life, experiencing all that it has to offer. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in the small stuff such as imposing deadlines and domestic chores meaning there is little time and energy left for things that really matter, things that bring your life joy and balance.
The hectic lifestyle of the 21st century can really take its toll on your mind and body and sometimes you just need to press the reset button, forget about the stress and clear your mind of things that don’t serve you. Making time for meditation can help you do just that, allowing you to garner a sense of perspective and realigning your mind with your body.
What is meditation?
Meditation is the Buddhist practice of calming and focusing the mind through creating a stillness through the body. It is a exercise for the mind, training yourself to think differently, to be present and to accept yourself and your feelings without judgement and to eventually reach a better understanding of yourself.
How will meditation benefit me?
Meditation will help you to deal with the stresses of your life, from you career to your home life and your understanding and acceptance of those around you. It can also help you to feel fulfilled, by remaining present and fully immersed in every moment of your life. Through meditation, you will gain perspective of what’s really important to you, helping you to prioritize and aiding in mental decluttering. You will find yourself feeling calmer, able to handle stress better and able to motivate yourself to achieve your goals and aspirations.
How do I meditate?
Make sure you’re not disturbed
Most importantly, you’re going to want to ensure that you’re not going to be disturbed during your meditation. The best way to do this is to take yourself off to a quiet part of your home, shut the door and windows and make sure you’re not going to be disturbed by family or pets. A peaceful garden also makes a fantastic location for meditation, helping you to be at one with nature and tap into that primal power.
Get yourself comfortable
This is really important, because you want to allow your mind to still, empty and relax, separating from your physical body. Make sure you’re in a quiet and peaceful space where you won’t be disturbed. We strongly recommend investing in a meditation cushion (zafu) or blanket, as this will help you get into the right mindset.
You need to be able to sit comfortably, with your back straight, whether this is in a chair on in the lotus position, find what feels right and comfortable for you. You could even lie down in Savasana (corpse pose), feeling the weight of your body fully supported by the earth. If it feels right for you, try placing your palms together at your chest, feeling the rise and fall as you breathe.
Once you’ve got yourself comfortable, make all the small movements you need and finally create a stillness within your body.
Check in with your breath
Conscious breathing is the foundation for meditation, it’s about being present in that moment, relieving yourself of distractions and …
Close your eyes and mouth and begin to focus on your breath. You need to restrict your airflow slightly so that your breath makes a sound like the ocean. In yoga, this is called Ujjayi, meaning “victorious breath”, and has been used for centuries to focus the mind and energise the body.
Once you have the hang of the breathing technique, begin to slowly deepen your breath. As you breathe, imagine you are inhaling cold air and exhaling black. This exhale contains any negativity you are currently feeling and any thoughts that are stopping you from relaxing. As you listen to the sound of your exhale, feel yourself let go of everything that doesn’t serve you at the moment. This could be issues at work, at home, financial worries, or even something as simple as a bad word exchanged between a friend. If it doesn’t serve you, release it from yourself.
This is probably the hardest instruction to follow. To meditate effectively, you will want to clear your mind completely. It’s okay if your mind wanders and you’re suddenly thinking about upcoming events, shopping lists and endless to do lists, this is normal for both beginners and meditation veterans. The trick is, not to chastise yourself when you notice that your mind is wandering. Accept that you’ve become distracted, and focus once more on your breathing - slowing it down and deepening your breaths.
I start my meditation with a vision of white, healing light and I settle my mind, body and breath by focusing on the light, and basking in its warmth. The vision of white (a light which is itself both an absence of colour and a combination of every colour) helps me to be present in the moment, giving myself a blank canvas brimming with possibilities.
When starting your meditation journey you may find it easier to focus on a mantra, rather than your breathing. Our personal favourite mantra is the Ho’oponopono prayer which draws on the four forces of repentance, forgiveness, gratitude and love helping you to achieve self-acceptance,
Here are some other mantras to get you started. Focus on what your chosen mantra means for you, what you want to achieve with it, and repeat it in your mind.
If you start your path to meditation with a 30 minute session you will become bored, frustrated and restless. It’s better to start small - you will benefit far more from meditating 10 minutes every day, than you would from a 70 minute session.
No matter how small your session, try to make at least 3 minutes a day to sit calmly and quietly. Use this time to check in with your breath and recognise how you’re feeling at that point during the day.
Try to meditate at different times of the day, to find what feels right for you. The morning is a great time to meditate and set an intention for the day, giving your mind and body a goal and something to focus on achieving.