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Yoga Me Well Blog

Meditation for Beginners

Meditation blog - brain lights upOfficially, meditation is to become one with the object of meditation so that you transcend your physical self, but that’s the PhD end of things. In reality, most people spend most of their time in ‘meditation’ training themselves gently to maintain focus.  There’s still plenty of magic to experience along the way.For beginners, here’s what counts most:

A kind attitude to Self.  Your mind thinks 60,000+ thoughts a day; that is its job. It pays to be incredibly patient and kind with yourself as you learn to harness that run-away brain. Self-criticism is the quickest way to end your good intention to start meditating, so be nice.

Consistency.  Meditation works when it is regular.  Early morning is most conducive to the practice but if before bed works best and helps you to sleep, then that’s your time. Also, determine an amount of time that is manageable and that you’ll commit to. Establish a habit: six weeks of 5 minutes’ meditation daily is better than 20 minutes three times a week.

Always start like this.  If you’re feeling  wired, go pull some weeds or skip around the block (chances are it will make you smile too).  Then:

  • Sit comfortably, with your spine lifted, and light.
  • Hands relaxed, resting on your thighs.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Feel  how the chair beneath you, supports you.
  • Turn attention inward, moving through your body, noticing what you feel, letting go of mental commentary as it arises.
  • As thoughts come, remind yourself  to let go .
  • This will happen a lot, and that’s normal 😉
  • Focus on your breath: notice how it travels up your nostrils and down your throat.
  • Notice how the ribs expand/contract, the chest rises/falls a little.
  • Feel the warmth of the out breath on your upper lip.
  • Continue exploring the breath in these ways, and your own.
  • Toward the end, try slowly opening your eyes and maintaining the meditative state.
  • Take your time to come back into the world.

Finding your groove.   

There are so many ways to meditate, it’s wise to try a few methods on for size. You will naturally gravitate toward one. Stick with each method for a week, and then focus on the most comfortable one for a month or more.  Even so, your meditation practice will differ daily, just as your moods and energy and stress levels fluctuate. Thoughts will continue to scamper around your mind like chipmunks. Release them gently.

Methods, like what?

Different ways of observing your breath.  Being present (focusing on nothing, allowing everything). Holding a seed thought “Peace”, “Flow”, “Ease”, or an affirmation, “Love guides me”, “I am enough”, “I welcome change”.  Chanting an internal mantra “So Hum” (I am); “Sat-chit-ananda” (Truth, Consciousness, Bliss).  Observing a single object over time (sun, moon, lotus flower or candle flame) that has inspirational qualities.  There is walking meditation, standing meditation, eyes-open meditation. . .

A trusted yoga teacher can give you a private session to run through techniques, or join a meditation course. For beginners, it’s wise to have a mentor as a sounding board. Meditation looks passive, but internally, it’s an active practice that stirs things up and unfurls a whole new world of sensate and insensate experience, with surprising effects sometimes.

This blog first appeared on Health.com.au.

Liv Mitchell

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Liv Mitchell is a senior teacher of yoga, mindfulness and a freelance writer.

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