We all know that life can be chaotic at times, which causes us to focus on the external world. When we are busy multitasking and doing a zillion things at a time, there is hardly any time to focus inwards. It can be difficult to unplug from the demands of the modern world and slow down for a moment.
While you can’t completely switch off from your life, you can definitely approach things differently and start to manage your life. One of the easiest and effective methods to do so is via meditation.
Meditation has undoubtedly 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. A Panic attack can be defined as an unpleasant bout of fear and discomfort which includes variable symptoms. Some may experience an accelerated heart rate or excessive sweating. Others may feel dizzy or shortness in breath, etc. or even all of them. (1)
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.
1. Let it be the first thing you do in the morning. Many times, you forget about meditating when you get up in the morning. Hence, set a reminder for every morning with an alarm or note saying, “meditate,” somewhere easily visible to you. Try to do this first thing in the morning.
2. Start small. Start with just 5 minutes a day for the first week. Gradually proceed by increasing a little at a time.
3. Choose a comfortable time. Meditation is associated with relaxation time. You should always try to choose a time when you are not likely to be disturbed and can relax and enjoy the process. Some people find that their morning time is ideal as it allows them to start their 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. Additionally, avoid meditating on a full or empty stomach. Don’t eat anything for two hours before or after meditation.
4. 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 because you feel it isn’t working. It will take time and persistent practice to master the art of meditation.
5. 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 help you to relax by merely sitting at that place. Your meditation space can be a separate room or 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.
6. Wear comfortable clothes. Wear things you are comfortable in. Avoid wearing tight clothes, go for loose, breathable clothes instead.
7. 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.
8. 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?
9. Relax your body. Close your eyes to eliminate any distraction. 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. (2)
10. Sit and observe. Take a moment and sit still. Just sit there. Be aware of your surroundings, your body or 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.
11. 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, you 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.
12. When having difficultly focusing, count your breath. If you find it difficult to concentrate on your studies or work, try to count your breath. After breathing out, 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. It is likely that your mind will wander. Just smile, and return to the counting from one. You might feel a little frustrated. It happens to everyone. As you develop greater focus, it will be easier to concentrate.
13. Don’t stress about your thoughts. If you start meditating thinking you can control your thoughts completely, then you have unrealistic expectations for yourself. Instead, don’t overanalyze, judge, or ruminate about your thoughts. Just notice them as an observevations and move on.
14. 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. Acknowledge your thoughts and with a smile, try to bring them back. Don’t dwell on them.
15. Have reasonable expectations. Don’t expect to master the art of meditation or expect extraordinary results in your first session. Know that it takes time. You just need to be easy on yourself, and every time your mind wanders, bring it back to focus.
16. Don’t worry about doing it wrong. Many times beginners tend to focus more on whether they are doing it correctly or not. 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.
17. 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. (3) Mantras can be anything such as “Peace, love, Om, etc.” or it can be an affirmation like “I am relaxed, I am calm.” The repetition of the mantra should be relaxed, soft, and gentle. There is no need to force it. Some people enjoy meditating with music, which calms them down. Sounds of rain, waterfall, waves, or chirping birds can be soothing. Others find concentrating on an object quite helpful. It can be an image, a candle, or a flower. It can be anything that helps you focus.
18. 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 and make little movements. Stretch yourself and wiggle your fingers and toes. Move your hands and feet slowly and take your time to get up.
19. Check in with someone. To stay committed, ask a friend, spouse, or a family member to check with you every morning regarding your meditation session. This will help you to stick with it longer.
20. 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 and get support from such people. They will encourage you to stay committed to your goals.
Note: The content has been edited and reviewed by Angela Webb, Licensed Psychologist.
- Panic Attack: Symptoms. Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/panic-disorder-agoraphobia/symptoms.
- Sharma H. Meditation: Process and effects - PubMed Central (PMC). AYU: An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4895748/. Published September 2015.
- Canter PH. The therapeutic effects of meditation - PubMed Central (PMC). The BMJ. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1125975/. Published May 17, 2003.