Do you know how when you have something specific on your mind, you seem to see it EVERYWHERE? Kind of like when you get a new car and start seeing the same kind of car wherever you go. Or when you decide to cut your hair and then you suddenly start noticing how all of the people you come in contact with have cropped locks.
It’s been this way with meditation. I started meditating back in January after reading Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier, and since then I feel like I’m hearing someone talk about it everyday. It’s one of those polarizing things that either people either love or hate… and for good reason… it’s hard to learn, but once you’ve turned a corner of seeing the benefits, you are a believer. And over the last 6 months, I’ve tried a few different tactics and landed on a few things that work wonderfully for beginners.
First things first, for me, meditation isn’t about transcendence. It’s not religious or based in spirituality (although I do like some of the spiritual basis, it’s not my primary focus). In my life, meditation is a way to train by brain to think thoughtfully through the chaos of life. When I’m meditating, I feel like I can more accurately recall information and problem solve without getting overwhelmed. Meditation builds up a buffer of patience and focus. If learning how to meditate is something you’re interested in, then here is the best way to get started.
Designate a Time & Space
Meditate at the same time everyday and in the same space everyday. This starts forming the practice as a habit. I love the early morning light in my office, so I sit on the floor in there and listen to the birds and bugs singing their songs through the forest-facing windows.
Choose the Floor or a Chair
You do not have to sit cross-legged on the floor. All you have to do is find a sitting (or laying!) position which feels the most neutral to you. For me, I can sit up straighter, without slouching, when I’m sitting on the floor with my legs crossed. I use a round cushion that you’d usually use on a bar stool. It was much cheaper than the meditation cushions and works just fine. I stash it in my closet when not in use.
You do not need to meditate for hours on end. Or even for one hour. Or even for 30 minutes. Studies from INSEAD and Wharton published in Psychological Science show that just 10-15 minutes per day¹ help to clear the mind, reduce stress, and improve decision making skills.
I started out using guided meditations and was a little so-so on them until I found Headspace. It is a fabulous app that leads you through guided 10-minute meditations and I think it’s actually really fun. I look forward to using it each morning.
Meditation is a process, a journey. Think of meditation as a daily maintenance, not as something to conquer. I heard someone once compare it to brushing your teeth… You do it each day because you know it’s good for you, but you aren’t necessarily thinking, “wow, this is wonderful” each time you do it. BUT the benefits are so strong that you continue doing it because you can see a huge difference between when you do and don’t meditate (or brush your teeth for that matter).
If it’s ever something you’ve considered trying, definitely look into Headspace. The app has a 10-day jump start guide for beginners and is pretty fun to do. Plus you can interact with the community, which I like.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN! Tell me in the comments below – do you meditate? If not, is it something you’ve considered starting? I’d love to hear your take!