1. Start Small
When you begin learning meditation you might stumble across “experts” that say you need to meditate for 20-30 minutes at a time. While its a good idea to work up to that, you shouldn’t start there.
No matter which way you slice it, mediation is a practice. You wouldn’t go to the gym for the first time and load the bar with 315 lbs. or sign up for a spartan beast before training.
In the same way, becoming an effective meditator starts with repetition. Begin your sits with just a few minutes at a time.
Starting with what’s comfortable to you will help you develop a daily meditation practice. And daily practice is really where you get the results so don’t be afraid to start small.
2. You Can Do It Anywhere
When you think of meditation you may picture monks in orange robes sitting silently on concrete floors.
You don’t have to do that.
For one, it looks very uncomfortable (at least it would be for me) and meditation can be fruitfully done anywhere.
You can meditate in any room of your house, on the train ride home, out in nature, or any other place in this crazy world. Get creative with locations and practice bringing some consciousness and peace into every part of your day.
3. You Don’t Have to Close Your Eyes
I’m thankful I learned this lesson early on. I’m what you would call “hyperactive”… meaning sitting silently with my eyes closed was about as fun as listening to an audio-recording of nails on a chalkboard.
If you also feel this way, you’ll be happy to know that you can keep your eyes open during meditation.
It helps to find an object in the room. It can be a statue, painting, picture, or even a textured wall.
Get in a comfortable position and try to focus on that object. Notice the features of it. How does it look? What color is it? What’s its texture? Is it warm? And so on.
Asking yourself questions about the object can help you stay single minded on what you’re doing and keep your focus off your “to-do’s”.
It’s one of my favorite ways to ground myself and I do it all day at the office (when I’m not with clients).
4. Keep it Simple
Eckhart Tolle says,
“one conscious breath in and out is a meditation.”
With all of the information out there its easy to get overwhelmed. Meditation is all about trying to clear your mind (or clear it as much as possible) and the easiest way is to keep things simple.
When starting out, you don’t need to worry about all of the different styles of meditation, the rules, or anything else. Whether its sitting quietly for two minutes or focusing on your breath, whatever works for you is perfectly fine.
5. Try a Walking Meditation
You don’t have to force a sitting session. If you’re wound up or have a lot on your mind then sitting down to meditate won’t be very relaxing.
Try to get outside and practicing mindfully walking or a walking meditation. Keep in mind that its pretty natural to feel restless when you first begin meditating.
During the first week or two you should try to persist through this restlessness and make yourself sit. But if its a hard day or you’ve been practicing for a few weeks, it can help to get out for a walk and then try sitting back down later.
6. Experiment With Times
There are a few times of day that are better to meditate than others but the rules aren’t hard and fast.
In general its better to meditate just after waking in the morning or just before bed at night. The reason is because your mind is naturally in a more relaxed state at those times.
However, some people like meditating in the afternoon or other times during the day. Experiment to see what works best for you. You don’t have to stick with the popular norms to have great meditations.
7. Don’t Get Bogged Down in Details
It’s easy to get stuck when there’s so many styles of meditation out there. It’s also common worry about where to sit, what cushion to get, how to sit, etc.
The important thing is to start and don’t focus too much on the details. You’re usually starting with short meditations anyway.
While you may want to find a good cushion, position and style as you make meditation part of your routine, its not needed in the beginning. Just get started in a chair or on some thick blankets if you’re comfortable on the floor. Later you can figure out the routine that fits you best.