Mindworks 101: Learn How to Start Meditating
Keep it Simple
When the time comes to start meditating, it may all seem a bit perplexing. After all, there are many methods, teachers, and traditions out there. Where to begin?
When first beginning to develop a practice, the simpler the approach, the better. Simplicity is good news – it means you can relax and enjoy the ride. Step aboard and let us chart the course. You’re setting off on the greatest of journeys: understanding how your mind works and how to work with your mind.
Here are 5 pointers to get you started meditating:
Keep your expectations in check
If you didn’t think that meditation can lead to greater well-being, you wouldn’t bother. Watch those expectations!
Of course, you’re right. Meditation is worthwhile precisely because – among many proven benefits for mind and body – it does lead to greater well-being. The truth is, though, that it takes a certain degree of effort, practice and commitment to uncover the benefits. Some people experience them almost immediately, while others find that it takes time.
Expectations about what will happen when you start to sit can be a big obstacle. Some people imagine that they will experience transcendent states of mind, others expect immediate mental quietude, and still others believe that they will develop supernatural abilities as their third eye opens up.
Here at Mindworks we have a very grounded, pragmatic approach to meditation. Our expectation is that if you sit regularly, you will find that meditation benefits you and, by extension, those around you in ways you didn’t anticipate. We suggest you let go of your ideas about what you want from the practice and fully enjoy exploring the richness of the present moment instead.
Find a quiet, comfortable place and sit tall
If you have a special spot for your meditation practice, that’s wonderful. If you don’t, any quiet place will do.
It’s very helpful if you can find a place to practice where you are reasonably certain that you won’t be disturbed for those few minutes. It could be your dedicated meditation corner at home, a quiet room at work or school, outside or any other special place.
Choose a meditation posture that works for you. You needn’t spend hours sitting in a perfect lotus position, but you will have to find a posture and seat that are sustainable during your chosen period of meditation time. Relax your shoulders and release any tension you notice in your body – especially neck, jaw and other physical tension magnets – but keep your back straight. Whether you are on a chair or cushion, your straight back and alignment will support awareness and discourage drowsiness.
Short and steady is the way to go
Beginners often struggle with the idea of sitting still for any real length of time. But no one says that beginners should force themselves to sit for hours on end. In fact, many meditation masters suggest that short practice sessions are the best way to start. In any case, what everyone agrees on is that consistency is a great help.
Like Lao Tzu said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The first few times you meditate, try it for a couple of minutes at a time. You can increase when it feels right. Some meditators swear by short sessions several times a day, while others can’t do without their 45-minute morning sit.
Your breath is your anchor
Okay, you’re ready. Now what?
Mindfulness, a popular and accessible meditation technique that has been around for millennia, is often about sitting quietly and remaining in the moment. We learn to observe the thoughts, sensations and emotions that appear in the mindstream, and we learn to acknowledge them and let them go. This is meditation: awareness, non-judgment and letting go in the here and now. We frequently use awareness of the process of breathing as the anchor for our busy minds and the basis for our meditation practice.
“Thinking” is simply the mind in movement. There’s no need to struggle with your thoughts—just let them come and let them go. Don’t judge your meditation by how much you’re thinking or how often you come back to the breath. Gradually, you’ll discover that you can accommodate whatever arises in your mind.
Guided meditations are a great help on the journey
Guided meditations take the guesswork out of this stage of your mindful journey. Mindworks Meditation Fundamentals course offers guided meditations, Mind Talks by renowned meditation experts, blogs, contemplation and much more. Bon voyage!