So, you want to mediate, but you’re not sure what to do. Meditation offers incredible benefits such as increased emotional health, reduced stress, enhanced self-awareness and controlled anxiety, but it can be hard to get into. Group support manager, Chris Salter from Forest Healthcare, shares his 5 top tips when beginning meditation.
1 Focus on your breath
We’ve heard it a thousand times: focus on your breath- but what does this actually mean? Simply diverting your attention away from the pressures of everyday life to your breath means you have started meditating. Begin with a few deep breaths to help calm you down and then begin following the breath as it flows through your body. Your breath might flow easily, be blocked, or feel cooler in certain parts of your body. You may notice that your breath helps to ease tension in specific body parts and through this process of focusing, you will notice that your mind will be cleared. No matter where you are or how busy you are, your breathing will always be an available meditation technique for you. If you feel panicked or overwhelmed but don’t have the time for in-depth meditation, try the 7-11 breathing exercise where you breath in for 7 seconds and out for 11. This is a quick technique to help you relax and gain composure in a variety of situations.
2 Don’t label your sensations
When meditating, it is important not to label your sensations but simply observe them. Whilst meditation is an exercise to explore thoughts, feelings and sensations, it is not the time to focus and be distracted by what is worrying you. Rather, it is a way to gain emotional freedom and a powerful method to regulate your emotions in a positive way. Therefore, observe the sensations you are feeling but simply note them and move on. This way you will stay present in the meditation without reacting to emotions that can feel intense. Remember, mediation is a long-term process of learning how to calm down and be grounded in your day to day life.
3 Don’t expect anything to happen
In mediation, many people expect to have a transcendental moment of enlightenment and simply do not understand the process. The hard truth of it is that if meditation is not practised correctly, it can be a waste of time and part of this is having zero expectation throughout the process. Many clients get frustrated at their lack of progress and become impatient, which is the opposite of staying present in the moment and letting go. Approach meditation correctly by not expecting anything to happen and stop searching for answers that will come naturally and over time to you.
4 Start loving yourself
Some people find meditating extremely uncomfortable because they are forced to sit with their emotions for a long period of time. However, after some time you might find that your comfort levels increase, and you enjoy spending time with yourself. As you simply take note of your thoughts and move past it in meditation, your inner critic will quieten as your attention focuses on the present. Ultimately, meditation is a great way to start practising the basic principles of self-love and being compassionate towards yourself.
5 Set a timer
Worrying about whether the session is done is a distraction that you don’t want, so a timer will set you free of this. That does not mean you won’t be distracted during the time you set aside for meditation- chances are you will be. However, a timer will define the amount of time you meditate for and make practising mindfulness a manageable part of your everyday routine. Remember that it is a process and the more you practise meditation, the easier it gets.