Tips for Starting a Meditation Practice

Get comfortable. 

You don’t need to be seated on the floor with your legs tangled up like a pretzel to meditate. Find a comfortable seat where you can ground down through the legs and hips, this may be on a chair or sofa, on the floor on a cushion or some blocks or even on your bed. It’s best to be upright, keeping the spine tall with a sense of ease and softness. The ability to relax through the belly and open the chest is a good start. Move around a little and find that space where you feel like the spine is stacked and there is grounding balanced with lightness.

Just start.

Have a go, sit in stillness for a few minutes and simply watch what happens. There is no wrong or right. If you find this really challenging that’s ok, you can also use a guided meditation to help you discover the process. The truth is, you can read all the articles in the world on meditation, but you won’t start to understand the practice or the challenges and benefits you will come across until you experience it for yourself. Keep it brief and consistent, for example 3 to 5 minutes twice a day to begin with.

Breathe naturally.

Step away from the need to control the breath, your body breathes 24/7 and most of the time you are completely unaware of it. During meditation we want to be aware of the breath as it serves as a tool, something for the mind to focus on. Our tendency is then to try to deepen or lengthen the breath. Move into an awareness of the breath how it is in this moment.

Become aware of expectations.

Simply identifying what you think a meditation practice “should” look like is an important part of the process. This links us to the fundamental concepts of mindfulness - non-attachment and non-judgment. Be open to experiencing what is, rather than what you think it should be. Often we are under the impression that meditation is about clearing the mind, then when we can’t clear the mind we become frustrated with the practice and give up as it’s not meeting those unrealistic expectations.

Watch.

You will find that thoughts, feelings and emotions will continue to surface and distract the thinking mind. This is completely natural. You will also notice that there is a part of you that can step back and watch this, it is in these moments of awareness that the practice begins. We have a choice regarding the way we respond to ourselves, either with criticism and judgment or acknowledgment and acceptance. Commit to an approach of kind and patient discipline towards yourself.

Find an experienced teacher.

Join a mindfulness or meditation group or do a course with a teacher who you connect with. Find like-minded people to share your experiences with and get tips and perspective on the practice, it really can make all the difference.