Stilling the mind - A beginner's guide to meditation
For many the thought of starting a meditation practise can be quite daunting. The response that I usually get from my clients is this, “My mind is too busy, it just can’t shut down and when I sit down to meditate I have a hundred and one things running through my mind. So I just end up getting frustrated with the whole experience.” If any of you reading this has experienced this, you are not alone. The truth is that the mind is working non-stop, 24/7 so when one attempts to introduce a practise like meditation into your daily routine it can end up being quite a frustrating experience. I know cos I’ve been there too. But believe me when I say that with the right techniques and tools at hand, it is much easier than you realise. You see you don’t need to be practising for year on end before you can start meditating like a monk.
Whilst it helps to have someone teach you the techniques, for those keen on trying on your own, below are a few tips to get you started in your practise.
If you are just starting out with your practise, you don’t really need to sit down for 30 minutes, 45 minutes or even an hour. If you can start off with just 10 minutes a day, that will be sufficient to get you started. As time goes on, you will find that you may want to meditate for longer periods.
Practise breath awareness:
One of the simplest ways to calm the mind for meditation is to start off by becoming aware of your breathing. Breath work or pranayama is a whole other topic on its own, but simple breathing exercises can enhance your meditation experience and take you into deep states of consciousness.
The benefits of meditation are cumulative and in order to reap those benefits, it helps to be consistent with your practise. Having a set time every day and a place that you practise makes to easier. I normally find that setting an alarm helps in reminding me and also helps me be consistent.
Remove all judgement
When one sits down to meditate and there are several thoughts coming in and out of the mind, one tends to judge the experience or judge one’s self. When there is this judgement in place, it can lead to frustration. So before you close your eyes to meditate its useful to say to yourself that you choose to release all judgement from this experience and and that all you will do is just be the observer.
You don’t have to clear your mind
Whilst many meditation practises emphasize clearing the mind, this is not really an easy thing to do for someone starting out. When I first started, the trick I used and almost always works is this. I say to my mind, give me a thought. And in that moment my mind goes blank because it actually doesn’t know how to respond to what I’m saying to it. This moment usually lasts about 2 to 3 seconds and in those moments there are no thoughts. If you are able to repeat this several times you will see that you mind starts to calm down or the number of fleeting thoughts that were going around in your mind has actually reduced. But as you continue your practise and train the mind, it won’t be necessary to ask your mind this question.
If you would like to learn meditation through a teacher, inquire with us about the meditation workshops and classes we offer on an ongoing basis.