Learning to Meditate

Learning to Meditate

Are you considering learning how to meditate? Meditation is a practice that can have tremendous benefits on your general sense of well being but it can be hard to get started. Here are a few thoughts on some of the most common questions asked about getting started in a meditation program.

“When and how can you find time to meditate?”

A lot of people ask this question. You can truly meditate anywhere and anytime, you just have to focus on it. You don’t have to have a set time and place to be able to start a practice. (Although that is a wonderful thing to be able to do.)  Meditation is simply the ability to focus your mind and it can be done in short burst anywhere. The art of meditation begins by just making time for yourself to align is what is important to you in your mind.

Don’t over-think it. Take a couple of minutes to start with, and let your practice naturally grow from there. Start by taking a few minutes in the morning to be still. Gradually increase the time you spend; it will probably happen on its own. You will find that the time you invest will soon return to you, exponentially, through increased concentration and clarity of mind.

If you find it helpful, there are a good number of quality meditation apps for iPhone and Android available. Healthline put together a handy list of great ones here.

“When I meditate, I often fall asleep. Is this okay?” 

Many people fall asleep during meditation. It is not something you should pass judgement on when you do. If you fall asleep, acknowledge that it happened, and begin again. Falling asleep is simply part of the exercise of training your mind to focus.

 

Trying to fit a new habit into a schedule is a challenge – however even mindfulness during an activity may be considered meditation. Simply paying attention – to your breath, body, your surroundings; this is one of the most widely practiced methods and may be done while multi-tasking. Introducing a new habit a little bit at a time is also important; do not try to do one full hour meditation every day as a starting point.

Start with 5 minutes here and there. Then, give it a specific time during the day- maybe its while your morning coffee is brewing. Maybe its before you go to bed. Stick to that for a while then try to increase the time a little. There is no harm in trying out different meditation techniques until you find one you truly enjoy.

“When I try to meditate, all these thoughts come running through my mind? How do I stop this from happening?”

Meditation need not be the absence of thoughts. Consider it instead to be the observation of the thoughts that do appear. When a thought appears, acknowledge it and then let it go and return your focus to your breath.

Another method for maintaining focus in your meditation is to try and concentrate on a particular mantra or to do a counting meditation. When the mind is engaged in an intentional activity such as reciting a mantra, or keeping a count, it has far less ability to become distracted.

Try to be mindful of the little things; first start with the breathe – observe the breathe, if you notice thoughts arising, just note that thoughts are coming and let them go – if you need a focal point for the mind, it may be good to try swapping your inner monologue for a good mantra that you identify with, or for “Om”.

“When is the best time to meditate?”

Meditation is said to be the pause between the breaths. It is often best to meditate at dawn or at dusk. People who prefer to start the day with meditation often say it is because they are fresh and have yet to engage with the world as a whole, that it sets their perspective or intention for the day.

For those that prefer to end their day with meditation, they find it useful to allow thoughts from the events of the day to come to mind, taking in what served their purpose and letting go of what did not.  You may find that an evening meditation may allow you to calm your mind and body so you can get a good night’s sleep.