10 Tips For A Successful Meditation
You’ve heard of all the benefits to meditating but have you ever given it a try? When I first tried it I failed miserably. My first attempt was to sit there for 15 minutes while trying to “think of nothing.” I could probably only pull off around 5 seconds of thought free time before I was thinking about what’s for dinner, I should call my mom, I need to get the car serviced, etc. I would then get annoyed for losing focus and force myself to think of nothing again. And so the cycle continued.
What worked for me was a much easier way to get started meditating. These are the tips I’ve learned:
- Find Quiet. Turn off the TV, radio, cell phones, sign out of messenger, mail, and any other thing that can interrupt you.
- Start with 5 minutes. I found a 15 minute meditation a little too long to start off with. Instead I backed off down to 5 minutes and found that a much more manageable starting point.
- Sit Comfortably. I made the mistake of sitting cross legged on the floor without cushions. My ankle put pressure on my other leg’s shin bone which was a small ache to begin with but eventually grew into a nasty pain. I now sit naturally on a chair (trying not to slouch) or cross legged on the floor with some pillows.
- Adjust if Uncomfortable. Trying to ignore a small ache until it grows into a pain is just pointless. The pain will scream for your attention and continually interrupt your concentration. So instead, adjust your seating. After you’ve meditated a few times you’ll learn how to sit in a way that will keep you comfortable for the duration of your meditation and so you won’t have to adjust any more.
- Loosen Up. I sometimes carry a lot of tension that I’m not aware of until I focus on relaxing. I wear glasses and I’ve found that I have tension in my ears to hold my glasses in place. Weird! To relax, I scrunch up my shoulders to my ears and then slowly let them fall down. I feel the muscles in my face relax. I relax my cheeks, my mouth, my shoulders a little more. Loosen my arms. Feel my hands get heavy. Oh, and I also take off my glasses.
- Close Your Eyes. I find closing my eyes entirely works for me. Others have had success with keeping their eyes half open but I find that I just end up thinking about what I’m looking at.
- Don’t Think of Nothing. It’s a mistake to try and fight thoughts and force yourself to “think of nothing”. If you haven’t meditated before you may not be aware that you’re not really in control of your thoughts. If you’re not in control you’re going to have a really hard time trying to control your mind by thinking of nothing.
- Notice Your Body. Focus your attention by noticing everything you can about how your body feels. Start at the top of your head and focus your attention on your face, your eyes, the coolness of air when you breathe in, the warmth when you breathe out, the tension in your face, and so on. Move your attention down your body towards your feet and focus on a part of your body and just notice how everything feels.
- Redirect Thoughts. If you’re like me then it won’t be too long before your mind will start to wonder. That’s okay and should be expected! It’s a natural part of the process. When you can catch your mind wondering, pay attention to the thought. Try not to get engaged thinking the thought but take a step back and notice what you were thinking of and how you feel. After you’ve noticed what you were thinking redirect your attention back to your your body. Don’t get angry or frustrated. Just notice your body, notice the thought, notice your body, … This ebb and flow is all a part of the deal.
- Notice Your Breath. If you’ve done the inventory of how your body feels and still have more time left then redirect your attention to your breath. Notice how deeply you breathe, what your nostrils feel like when you breathe in, how they feel breathing out, how much air is in your lungs, how fast you’re breathing, and so on.
OK Enough Talk…Give it a Shot!
If you’re at the Serene Journey website you should see a countdown timer below already set for 5 minutes. Click on the Start button to start the timer or change the time to anything you want. When the time’s up you’ll hear 3 bell rings – make sure your computer’s sound is on.
There are many ways to meditate. When I started out what I described above is what worked for me. I stayed with this routine for a while (months) before trying something different. Don’t feel you have to rush into alternatives now. You’re training your mind and that will take time so don’t rush it, just enjoy the process!
If you’ve been doing this for a while and are looking for alternative meditations here are some suggestions:
- Increase Time. Bump up the time you meditate by 1 minute at a go until you reach 15 minutes. When you reach 15 minutes try adding another meditation session at another point throughout the day. Say one in the morning and one in the evening.
- Narrow Focus. Only focus your attention on your breath instead of your entire body.
- Walking Meditation. While walking pay close attention to the steps you’re taking, the length of your stride, how the earth feels beneath your feet.
- Cleaning Meditation. Maybe this one’s just me but I get in the zone when cleaning the coffee plunger. I focus my attention on taking apart the plunger bit, cleaning the parts, reassembling it. When I’m done I have an incredibly clean coffee plunger and have maintained focus on one thing for a few minutes.
How’d it Go?
If you gave this a shot then please let me know how it went. Did it work for you? Did your mind wander a bit? Do you have any of your own tips?
Photo courtesy of: lepiaf.geo
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