Sunday, June 2, 2013

Silver Linings: Getting started with meditation

He often joins my meditation
Over the past two years, I've regularly written about my explorations in meditation and mindfulness on this blog. By now, I consider meditation as important for my mind as exercise for my health. Over time, I've developed this habit, and by now I simply meditate every single day.

The practice of meditation has made me calmer and more focused and productive, and it has had tremendous benefits for my research.

I understand that you might think that you don't have the time for it. But believe me, the additional mental clarity you build up will help you regain those 10 or 20 minutes that you spend in meditation very easily.

My path towards daily meditation has been on and off. Many times I've fallen of the wagon, but I've always come back and tried again. If you want to get started with meditation, these are my five essential points:

1. Try out different times during the day

Different people prefer different times of the day to meditate. You might like to try it out as first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, right when you get home or at night before you go to sleep.
It took me quite some time to understand that for me, meditating first thing in the morning (after brushing my teeth and washing my face to wake up), is the best way to make sure I make it a priority.

2. Try out different styles of meditation

Don't say "I don't like meditation, it's not for me". For sure, there will be some kind of meditation that you enjoy. Try out different styles (gradually, don't try to master everything at once), such as: body scan, breathing meditation, mindfulness meditation, walking meditation, visualization, guided meditation, meditation using binaural audio,... There are so many varieties that I am sure there will be something out there that suits you.

3. Start small

If you want to get started without getting discouraged, start small. Leo Babauta advises you to build the habit by starting tiny: 2 minutes a day. As long as you start building the habit, you will improve and start to enjoy. If you practice a sitting meditation without guidance nor mindfulness bell, then listen to your inner urge to get up. Resist this urge twice, and get up at the third time the urge surfaces.

4. Log your progress and process

Whether you make a wall chart to track your progress, tick it off from your to do list in your planner or use a habit-building app, tracking your progress and journaling about your observations and the entire process will help you ease into your new habit.

5. Be gentle on yourself

If you fall of the wagon, don't beat yourself up. Just start over and over again. I did my first meditation trials 13 years ago. Ever since then, I've been picking it up, trying to make it stick, and lose it again. It's an iterative process in the end, and its purpose is not to stress you out, but to help you grow into a more focused version of yourself.

Do you meditate? Would you like to start? Share your experiences in the comments section!

4 comments:

  1. I sometimes meditate for just a few seconds when writing. It changes my ideas of what to say. My meditations have more creativity than my brain does.

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  2. I haven't tried that yet... but curious to do so!

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  3. I like a lot the third point. I usually say ¡Do it for ten minutes!

    Linked from An Interior Forest | Two minutes a day

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  4. Thanks for linking to my post as well :)

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