Following on from my last article, I have been asked by some people if I could explain to them how one goes about practicing mindfulness meditation.
So here goes, I will try put it into words.
I have read that meditating is a bit like learning to ride a bicycle, once you’ve learned how to do it then it’s a process that you will have access to for the rest of your life.
Where do I learn to meditate?
We live in a time where any information that we desire is just a click away. There are some great meditation tutorials on the internet, and with a little searching, you can find a program that suits you. So, a good place to start would be Google or YouTube. Provided the tutorials are not complicated with lots of jargon, you should be well on your way to beginning to develop your practice. There are some very good meditation tools out there and most of them take the time out to explain in a manner that beginners can understand them.
I would suggest that when you are starting out, choose a meditation method that’s easy to pick up. There are many different techniques out there and whilst some are simple mindfulness practices you can also find techniques that profess to connect you to your inner wisdom or inner peace and a range of other programs. It is important to find one that will be aligned with that which you are seeking.
When I first started I used a very simple breathing meditation. I also did slow walking meditations which I first heard about in Paulo Coelho’s book The Pilgrimage. For the past 6 months, I have been using the very useful Headspace App. I really enjoy the Headspace program as they have a whole range of programs within the app. You can also choose the length of time for your session and they give you a step by step explanation whenever they introduce a new topic. Go over to Headspace to check it out.
Right, so now you have watched a few YouTube videos maybe even downloaded a program or app, you are ready to get started. The trick here is to practice and give it some time. Think back to when you first learned to ride a bicycle. It is unlikely that you were really good at it the first time. If you were anything like me, you lost skin, shed tears, went through periods of intense frustration and wanted to give up but somehow you persisted and then one day as if by magic you were gliding along. You were riding on your own, freedom and independence were yours until you tried to stop. There you were once again picking your bike up off the floor, knees stinging, and vision blurred by tears, but that feeling. Oh man, that feeling of actually being in the zone riding. That is kind of like my meditation journey, when I am in that zone, just for that moment everything is perfect, but then my mind thinks of something, a noise distracts me, and I find myself sitting with my legs crossed on a mat yet again. Keep at it, it gets easier over time.
Stick with your program every day for at least a week. If after a week of practicing you find that you do not like the method, then look for another program or method. Find one that works for you. The aim is to bring a sense of living in the moment, ease, flow, and peace. If you not experiencing that then don’t try so hard. Meditation requires letting go not holding on. There is a program out there that will work for you.
Meditating first thing in the morning works really well for me. I get it done before my day gets started, and I find that starting off my day with a meditation practice sets up the mood for my entire day. Find a time that is going to work for you and practice your meditation at the same time every day until you develop the habit.
You can create a little ritual for yourself that you do before every meditation. This will signal to your brain that you are now going to be meditating and you will find that you get into the zone much quicker. A ritual can be anything from lighting a candle to sitting in the same spot.
Most importantly have fun. Meditation should be an effortless practice that leaves you feeling better than you felt before.
If any of you would like to come an learn to meditate in India with me this December check out our upcoming retreat, The Happy Hearts Retreat. We are only taking four people along with us so if you would like to be one of the four get in touch quickly.