With all the chaos that you constantly encounter in your daily life, your focus is usually on the external world.
When you are busy multitasking and doing a zillion things at a time, there is hardly any time to focus inwards. To unplug from the demands of the modern world and slow down for a moment can be a tall order.
But if you don’t, this overload can lead to ugly results.
While you can’t completely switch off from your life, you can definitely approach things in a gentler way. And one of the easiest and effective methods to do so is via meditation.
Meditation is no more a luxury. It has become a necessity in this fast-paced world.
It lets you focus within and helps you become mindful. It even provides you with techniques to calm yourself during a panic attack. Being mindful is not about suppressing your thoughts, but surpassing them. If you are a beginner, you can start small and follow some simple meditation tips. Don’t expect to excel at the first go, but with practice, you will see improvement.
Here are 18+ meditation tips that will change your life for the better.
- Let it be the first thing you do in the morning. Many times although you may want to start meditating, you forget about it when you get up in the morning. Hence, set a reminder for every morning or stick a note saying, ‘meditate,’ somewhere easily visible to you. Try to get into it the first thing in the morning.
- Start small. Don’t try to make yourself meditate for half an hour straight away on the first day itself. Start with just 5 minutes a day for the first week. Gradually proceed by increasing a little at a time.
- Choose a comfortable time. Meditation is associated with relaxation time. So, you should always try to choose a time when you are not likely to be disturbed and can relax and enjoy the process. Some find morning time ideal as it allows you to start your day on a positive note, while others love to do it before bed as it lets them unwind. When you begin, explore your options and find your best suited time. Once you have found yourself a comfortable time, stick with it. Avoid meditating on a full or empty stomach. Don’t eat anything for two hours before or after meditation.
- Be consistent. Keep your meditation ritual consistent. Make sure to meditate at the same time every day – even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Make it a daily routine. The more you do it the better you will get at it. Don’t give up just because you feel it isn’t working. It will take time and persistent practice to master the art.
- Create a space. Creating a space for your meditation regime will condition your mind to relax and will help you begin the process of meditation. Although you can meditate anywhere, creating a special place for meditation will in time help you to relax by merely sitting at that place. Your meditation space can be a separate room or a separate area. Always choose a calm and quiet place that is away from all distractions such as noise and television. Avoid bedrooms as they can make you sleepy. The place should be comfortable and not cramped. You can decorate this place with flowers, stones or pebbles, seashells, candles, incense and religious or natural imagery. It can be anything that inspires and motivates you.
- Wear comfortable clothes. Wear things you are comfortable in. Avoid wearing tight clothes, go for loose, breathable clothes instead.
- Watch your posture. Your posture also makes a difference. Make sure whatever your posture is, you are relaxed and comfortable. Sit down, relax and rest your hands on your lap or thighs, with the palms up or down. You can sit on the floor cross-legged or can choose to sit in a chair with your feet resting on the ground. Don’t force yourself into a lotus position if you are not used to it. If it’s a chair, choose one that keeps your back straight. If you choose to stand, maintain a good posture with your arms hanging freely by your sides. When lying down, place yourself in a comfortable position with appropriate support under your head and knees if needed.
- Tap into your feelings. As you get into the meditation mode, check your feelings. How does your body feel? What are the thoughts that are crossing your mind? How do you feel? Tired? Anxious? Excited?
- Relax your body. Close your eyes so as to eliminate any kind of distraction. Some say closed eyes help focus more. Do whatever is comfortable for you and lets you focus attentively. Start by becoming aware of your feet. Let the muscles relax and lighten. Linger there for a few minutes. Next, move on to your toes, feet, legs, pelvis, abdomen, lower back, upper back, chest, shoulders, arms down to the fingers, shoulders, neck, different parts of the face, and head. When you focus your attention on a particular part of your body, soften and relax the muscles. Lastly, focus on your belly as you breathe in and out. Focus on the rhythms of your body. Notice the different sensations you feel there.
- Sit and observe. Take a moment and sit still. Just sit there. Be aware of your surroundings, your body, any sounds around you. Absorb everything that happens around you. Don’t change anything. Don’t do anything. Just observe. Thoughts will cross your mind. Don’t judge them. Let them pass by. Do this for a few seconds.
- Focus on your breathing. Now turn your attention to your breathing. This will help you to be in the present moment. Breathing helps calm your mind and develop inner peace. Take a few slow and deep breaths – inhale through your nose and exhale from your mouth. Don’t force it. Let your breath fill your diaphragm and lungs. Notice how it flows in and out through your nose, throat, chest and belly. Initially your breathing will be shallow, but gradually as you progress, allow more air to fill inside your lungs making it fuller and deeper. Breathe slowly and deeply. Aim to have your exhalations longer than your inhalations. This will let you push out used air out of your body and will provide you with enough fresh air.
- When difficult, count your breath. If you find it difficult to concentrate on your studies or work , try to count your breath. After the out-breath, count one, then breathe in and out and count two and so on up to ten. Then start again from one. Try to keep a count, but if you lose track, start again from one. Your mind will wander. It’s a certainty. Just smile, and return to the counting. Start from one again. You might feel a little frustrated. But it’s okay not to be focused. It happens with everyone. Once you become comfortable with counting till four, take it to 10. As you develop greater focus, it will be easier to concentrate.
- Don’t stress about your thoughts. It is normal to have thoughts. If you start meditating thinking that you can control your thoughts completely, then you have unrealistic expectations from yourself. Instead, don’t overthink about your thoughts. Just notice them as an observer.
- Accept your thoughts. Don’t try to fight your thoughts. You can’t stop your mind from thinking; you can only bring it back to focus. So, acknowledge your thoughts and with a smile try to bring them back. Don’t dwell on them. Be friendly to them.
- Have reasonable expectations. Don’t expect to master the art of meditation in your first session itself or don’t expect something extraordinary out of your first meditation practice. Know that it takes time. You just need to be easy on yourself and every time your mind wanders, bring it back to focus.
- Don’t worry about doing it wrong. Many times beginners tend to focus more on whether they are doing it correctly or not. What you need to understand is when you actually sit down to meditate, you are meditating. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t feel the calm and inner peace you were searching for. In time, you will learn to focus and see the difference. You don’t need to force anything on yourself, just follow these meditation tips to the best of your ability.
- Chant a mantra. If sounds appeal to you, chant a mantra of your choice. A mantra is a word or sound that you repeat to yourself during meditation. The purpose of repeating a mantra is to let you concentrate on something so as not to let your thoughts wander. Mantra can be anything - “Peace,” “love,” “Om” etc or it can be an affirmation like “I am relaxed,” “I am calm” and so on. The repetition of the mantra should be relaxed, soft and gentle. There is no need to force it. Some people enjoy meditating with music. Music can also calm you. Sounds of rain, waterfall, waves or chirping birds, can be soothing. Others find concentrating on an object quite helpful. It can be an image or a candle or a flower. It can be anything that will help you focus.
- End peacefully. Wind up your meditation session by setting a reminder or a timer. Don’t rush. Try not to stand up immediately. Become aware of the fact that you are going to end the session. Gradually open your eyes. Take a moment. Make little movements. Stretch yourself. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Move your hands and feet. Move slowly and take your time to get up.
- Check in with someone. To stay committed, ask someone - a friend, your spouse or any of your family members, to check with you every morning regarding your meditation session. This will help you to stick with it longer.
- Find a community. Try to find a group of people who meditate and join them as it will help you keep motivated and stick to it. Ask questions, get support from such people. They will encourage you to stay committed to your goals.