How to Get Started Meditating

By Jennifer Noble | Jan 10, 2018

People may well remember the 21st century as the era of mindfulness. Study after study has demonstrated how those who meditate regularly are healthier, happier, less anxious, and more productive at work and play. As the Indian spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy, once said “If you want to liberate yourself from the meshes of ignorance, never, never hesitate to meditate.”

Companies as successful as Google is making employee mindfulness part of their business plan, and schools are using meditation to create super-students. Isn't it about time you joined the mindfulness movement?

Luckily, meditating is a practice for which you need no special equipment or fancy training. In its essence, meditation is simply the act of sitting still and in silence, taking in the sounds and sensations around you, not chasing away your thoughts but not following them either. Sounds easy, right? In fact, it takes practice and concentration, and even Zen masters who've been at it for years will tell you they rarely succeed in reaching the nirvana of perfect mindfulness. Still, it's the act of trying, of meditating, that brings mindfulness's much-touted benefits.

Find a place you won't be disturbed without too many distractions or noise and set a time to meditate each day. First thing in the morning, before the rest of the household is up, is often an excellent choice.

It is best to sit, either on the floor or bed, kneeling or in lotus position supported by pillows, or in a chair. Make sure you'll be comfortable in whatever position you take but not too comfortable. Lying down is not recommended as too often meditation can turn to naptime. You want to sit with good posture, alert and erect. In some traditions, practitioners close their eyes, and in some, they do not. Closing your eyes can keep you from becoming distracted but again, be careful not to fall asleep.

If you've never meditated before, it's best to start slowly, just five or ten minutes at a time. Focus your thoughts on your breath, just feeling it as it enters and leaves your body. Sometimes it helps to time each inhale and exhale, returning to the count when your mind drifts. At the beginning of your practice, you may want to listen to a guided meditation or adopt a mantra to keep your thoughts from overtaking your efforts.

Do not get discouraged if your mind wanders. It happens to even the most seasoned meditators. The simple act of catching yourself in your daydreams and returning to concentrating on the present and your breath is what the practice of meditation is about.

If you keep this up, even just 10 minutes a day, you will begin to feel the benefits at home and work. That's the time to start considering increasing the time you meditate in the morning or add a brief session before bed (it can help you sleep well). Also, if you find yourself overwhelmed during the day, a meditation mini-break can help. Sit silently for three breaths and see how it clears your head.


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