Starting A Meditation Practice

I get a lot of questions asking for direction on how to practice meditation. Most people are looking for a tool that will help to overcome anxiety, rid them of depression and, essentially, to live a more happy/peaceful life.

We all want that right?  Yet, many people who attempt meditation either get frustrated because they struggle to quiet their minds or think its not working because their sadness/depression still lingers.

This is where the need to understand what a meditation practice is and how it works comes into play.

First of all, the goal of meditation is not to quiet mind chatter, rid yourself of adverse feelings or to live up on a rainbow cloud. Will all those things happen? Yes, probably, after accumulating hours of practice, but the true goal of meditation is to bring awareness to the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing. (Scary right?! I ran from my feelings for years!)

Many of these thoughts and feelings are filled with pain that we do not want to touch with a 10 foot pole. But, the more we avoid them, the more suffering we endure.  We store emotions in our bodies and events similar to the original experience will cause emotions to surface.  Anger, jealousy, hurt, envy…it all wants to come out in some way. Meditation gives you a refuge and the safe harbor for you to sit with all of these feelings and to truly see them for what they are; energy from a past event. 

From my own experience, along with the wisdom from great meditation teachers, here are some steps you can take to start your own meditation practice.
  1. Commit to meditating at least 5 days a week.  Bring in a curious mind by asking, “I wonder how this will work? I wonder how I will feel after 30 days?” (Consistancy is key).
  2. Determine a time of day you want to practice. I prefer mornings because of the peaceful energy that circles the planet. But, you can meditate at your lunch break or before bed too.
  3. Designate a space. I started on my living room floor then moved to my couch and now have a space set up in my extra bedroom.  Some people set up a space in their closets if they have a busy household. I like to have sacred objects around me, a candle and essential oils.  You want a space to be warm and inviting, which helps you to look forward to your practice. 
  4. Decide on a length of time. You can start out with a minute if you feel the need!  The thing here is to get in a habit of meditating. Research studies show that just 8 minutes of meditation causes changes in the brain so you don’t need to meditate for long periods of time to reap the benefits. (Short times, many times is what researchers suggest).
  5. Find a comfortable posture. This can be cross legged on the floor sitting on a blanket, on your couch or a chair with feet planted on the floor or even laying down if needed. Play around with various postures. Hands can be in a mudra or palms down resting on your knees. Again, try different positions and see what is right for you.  You can also start out in one position and transition if needed.  There are some Buddhist lineages that practice in total stillness where you are instructed not to move your body. Although that didn’t work for me, you may want to try it if it resonates with you. 
  6. Start with a guided meditation. This is where someone talks and guides you through the practice.  I find it was easier for me to sit and stay focused using a guided meditation. There are so many free ones on apps like Calm, Insight Timer etc. 
  7. Journal your journey!  Note how you are feeling at the beginning before you start and as you progress.  Are you feeling like you can handle life better?  Finding yourself a little happier or less triggered?  Reflect on what is going on in your life so you can examine what is working and what isn’t. 
Benefits of a Consistent Meditation Practice (A short list)
  • Stress Reduction
  • Anxiety Management
  • Depression Management
  • Lowers Blood Pressure
  • Strengthens Immune System
  • Improves Memory
  • Regulates Mood
  • Increases Self Awareness
  • Helps With Addiction Management
  • Improves Sleep

If you are looking for a tool to help manage your mood, alleviate stress or make you feel better than you did last year, give meditation a try!!  If anything, it won’t hurt 🙂

*This article is not meant to give medical advice. If you are suffering from any mental/emotional or physical affliction, please seek out guidance from a professional.