These days, it seems like everyone’s got a meditation practice, from the most successful CEO to basically anyone on your Instagram feed. While it may have become somewhat of a trend in recent years, this centuries-old practice offers proven mental, physical, and spiritual benefits. If you’ve finally decided to give it a try, here are a few tips that will help make the experience a little bit smoother.
Ideally, you shouldn’t be hungry or too full for your practice. Hunger will just act as a distraction, pulling you away from the depths of your practice, whereas you might risk dozing off if you’ve just had a big meal.
Location, Location, Location
It is essential to find a quiet place where you can practice undisturbed, recognizing that this is a time to be with yourself and for yourself as fully as possible.
This should go without saying, but silence your phone and put it on airplane mode to avoid any distractions.
Whether you’ve just woken up or have spent a full day sitting at your desk, you might struggle with being still without stretching out first. The internet is full of great video examples of this, and you can choose one depending on how much time you have.
Choosing a comfortable posture is key to staying alert and avoiding the distraction of physical discomfort during the meditation, so find a position that allows you to feel comfortable and aware at the same time.
You may choose to sit on a cushioned floor with crossed legs or lying down, or to sit straight and relax on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Sitting on a chair would be the best posture for those who have joint pain. If the chair that you are using is too high off the ground, you may place a block or cushion under your feet.
The video below is a good example of how to adjust your floor seating to find a comfortable position.
One of the biggest misconceptions about meditation, especially at a beginner level, is the idea that you should be able to completely clear your mind of any thoughts in order to successfully meditate. This is completely wrong. What you’re trying to do is not rid your mind of thoughts but simply to stop latching on to them when they do appear.
Let your thoughts come to you, acknowledging their presence, but then let them go. Don’t follow them and don’t overthink them. A good analogy is that of standing on a pavement, watching your thoughts go by as you would cars on a road.
If your mind does end up wandering off after a thought, just come back to your breath whenever you notice that. Most importantly, don’t get frustrated or angry; it’s all part of the process.
Don’t Overthink It
You’re not aiming for perfection. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re meditating while lying down under your duvet. What matters is that you’re doing it. Don’t overthink it, don’t stress out, and don’t get frustrated if you get interrupted or if you end up drafting a full supermarket shopping list in your head. Be patient and stick with it. It will only get easier.
Bahar Wilson is a mindfulness coach and the founder of Mindfulness UAE.