Meditation can seem intimidating, especially if you don’t know where to start. If you’re interested in learning how to meditate and want to feel less stressed and more peaceful, these 8 meditation tips are designed to help you get started, feel comfortable, and reap the health benefits of meditation right away!
1) Keep your meditation short
If you’re new to meditation, don’t be surprised if your head starts to spin after even a few minutes. By starting with a shorter session, say 10 minutes, you can gauge how much time works best for you and if you need to make adjustments accordingly. If 10 minutes is all you can do in one sitting, that’s fine—just try to meditate every day. Over time, you might find that 15 or 20 minutes is a better amount of time for your mind and body.
2) Meditate in a peaceful place
Meditation can be very difficult if you don’t have a peaceful place to practice. Try to eliminate as much noise as possible in your environment and focus on meditating in a room that is free of interruptions. And, if you can find time to meditate outdoors, even better! The fresh air will keep you relaxed while also making meditation more fun. Whenever possible, choose to meditate outdoors instead of indoors—you’ll be surprised by how much more effortless it is when surrounded by greenery and open air. Meditation doesn’t have to take place on a mountaintop, but it might help!
3) Find something to concentrate on
The key to finding some peace and quiet for your meditation practice is to find something that can be your focal point. Whether it’s a candle or an inanimate object, keep looking at that one spot until you calm down. If something else comes into your mind, acknowledge it and then look back at that one focal point. It may seem impossible to hold on to just one thing while meditating, but know that if you stay consistent with your practice over time, it will become easier and more natural to do so. The trick is to set yourself up for success right from the beginning—and then give yourself permission to get lost in thought as often as you need before returning back to focus again.
4) Invest in a good mat
Getting a good meditation mat is key to having a peaceful meditation session. I’ve seen some people use thin beach towels or other types of blankets and when you sit on them for long periods, it hurts your knees and lower back. That doesn’t create a positive environment for meditating. Choose one that provides enough cushioning but isn’t so thick that you feel like you might lose balance or not be able to get up easily after your session is over. It should also be washable because no matter how careful you are with hygiene, there will probably come a time when your mat needs to be cleaned.
5) Always close your eyes
Meditation should be practiced with your eyes closed. The meditation trick here is to close your eyes before you sit, and then keep them closed throughout. One of my favorite tricks for sitting longer is to wear socks on a cold floor and cover myself in blankets while I meditate. This helps me stay warmer longer, which leads to deeper relaxation. And who can say no to deeper relaxation?
6) Start small, think big
If you can’t seem to quiet your mind, it’s often because you’re trying too hard. That kind of mental struggle will simply lead to frustration and keep you from reaching a meditative state. Instead, start small—as in just focus on your breathing for 10 minutes or so—and once that feels natural, gradually increase your meditation time. If you do find yourself distracted by thoughts, don’t force them away—just let them pass like clouds passing through an open sky. Focusing on meditation and mindfulness might not be easy in the beginning but give it time and be sure to set realistic goals. Soon enough, with practice and patience, you should notice less tension in your body throughout each day and feel more at peace overall.
7) Spend less time thinking about how it’s going to suck, more time thinking about how great it will be once you do it.
Meditation is, by nature, uncomfortable. When you meditate, your brain will be telling you a number of things—stop doing that! That’s stupid! I’m too busy to think about nothing right now! The problem is that when we listen to these complaints, it causes us not to want to sit and meditate in the first place. The best way around all of this? Commit time in advance. Tell yourself I’m going to meditate every day at 3 p.m. or whatever time works for you. Then set a reminder on your phone. When it goes off—at exactly 3 p.m.—sit down and meditate without worrying about how difficult it might be.