Depression, anxiety, stress and many more detrimental health conditions continue to rise in the 21st century. Jobs have become more demanding and money has become more scarce. It all leaves footprints in our lives.
Think of each area of your life as a piece of string and your mind as a pocket. As we know with headphones, if you don’t properly take care of them, then they can easily become tangled. It’s the same with our thoughts.
If you don’t address each thought and emotion properly, your mind will slowly become knotted, messy and chaotic. Instead of focusing on the situation you’re in, you’ll be thinking of a thousand other events that are kept locked up in the back of your mind.
Take a minute to reflect on whether any of these situations have happened to you:
- You’re eating dinner with your family but you can only think about work
- You’re reading a book and have to go back a page because you weren’t fully concentrating
- You’re watching a TV show or movie and have to keep rewinding because you weren’t paying attention
Don’t worry; it’s something that happens to everyone. Luckily, it’s something that can also be easily fixed with a little patience and elbow grease. Many people make the mistake when fixing their mind of giving up too early because it’s ‘too hard’ or ‘takes too long.’ Saying that you can’t meditate because you don’t have the patience or you’re too stressed is just like saying you can’t go to the gym because you’re not fit or strong enough.
You meditate in order to become calm and patient, not because you already are.
So, what’s the solution to all these mental problems?
Mindfulness is simply the state of being aware. It’s paying attention to present moment and living in it, not worrying about what happened yesterday or is coming up later in the week – just the right here, right now. This is the best way to approach and address your emotions.
Much of our sadness comes from not accepting our current mental state. For instance, when we become sad we think about how we don’t want to be sad and how unfair it is that we are. Instead we should accept that we’re sad and deal with the situation we’re in. This helps the wave of sadness leave us quickly and stress-free. Otherwise, we’re left with repressed and unconscious thoughts that can appear at any time.
The aim of meditation is not to directly relieve of all your woes and struggles. However, it provides a mechanism through which to do so and a technique for revealing pain during future stressful situations.
Also, meditation and mindfulness are not a quick and easy jump to suddenly becoming happy and ecstatic 24/7. They take time and work. Neither will they make you joyous all the time; they’ll just help you deal with your emotions.
Don’t have a time….
Now, you may be thinking that you don’t have enough time to meditate or simply can’t be bothered. A lot of people spend much of their money on good food and supplements in order to improve their health. Many spend money on fitness equipment and gym memberships, too.
What would you do if someone offered you a pill with no side effects that could improve your mood, health and performance? You’d even start noticing the effects of the pill right from the start, they say.
Would you take it? Of course you would! This is exactly what meditation is except it’s not a pill so people are less willing to use it. Because it’s not something people can quickly have with their breakfast, they don’t make time for it.
Today, this article is going to change that. Here are ten top tips to getting into meditation and developing into a better, more peaceful version of yourself.
1. Start Small
Your first meditation session doesn’t need to last an hour long. Start with just 10 minutes a day and slowly work yourself up. You wouldn’t run a marathon if you’ve never run a 5k. The same principles you apply to your body you can apply to your mind. Start in the shallow end and slowly ease your way on.
2. Develop a Meditation Space
If you develop a room or area in your household where you can meditate, then every time you enter this space your brain will acknowledge that it needs to be in a calm state. Think of meditation like sleeping. You don’t just sleep anywhere in your house at any time. You have a bedroom with a comfy bed in it. Your bedroom is designed for sleep so that when you enter into and start your bedtime routine, your body realises it needs to relax for slumber.
The same goes for meditation. Find one area in your house, put down cushions and candles, and make the space comfortable for your body and mind.
3. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
Starting meditation can be tricky. As we’ve said, there are a lot of stresses in the mind that can interrupt our meditation sessions and prevent us from entering into a calm state. However, you shouldn’t let this stress you out further. Instead, accept that your thoughts are going to get in the way and address them as they enter your mind. Trying to block them out or ignore them will only make the problem worse. In fact, it’s one of the many reasons why you’re in this mess! Use the time to work through your problems and then move forward.
4. Use a Timer
One of the main barriers to meditation is time. People get worried that it will take up too much of their day. By using a timer, you can make sure that it will fit easily into your schedule and take up no more time than it needs to.
Now, you can easily use your phone, but there are some apps specifically designed to time and track your meditation sessions. Apps such as Insight Timer and Meditate for iPhone will tell you how long you’ve been meditating for, when to stop and about your previous sessions.
5. Learn to Sit
I know what you’re thinking: ‘I sit all day! Of course I know how to sit!’ Sure, you may sit all the time but you’re probably not sitting properly. The main cues for sitting correctly for meditation are:
- Keep your back straight – an upright posture furthers concentration, improves the breath and reduces the strain on your lower back
- Don’t worry about your hands
- Let your eyes stay open or fall closed – whichever you find better for you will be best
- Keep your head slightly tilted down or straight ahead
- Cross your legs however you want – you can choose to sit wherever you want, be it a bed, a chair or the floor, so let your legs do whatever feels best
6. Focus on Frequency Over Length
Meditating for 105 minutes on one day isn’t the same as meditating for 15 minutes every day. It’s far better to do every now and then than just doing a big lump in one go.
You may also have certain times when you meditate more than others. That’s fine! Just do what you can, when you can. There shouldn’t be any pressure to meditate, as it will only cause further stress – the very thing we’re trying to avoid!
7. Use Counting to Improve Your Concentration
Do you struggle with shifting your focus onto your breath? For a lot of people, it can be tricky if you’ve never done it before. Counting your breaths is a simple and easy way to improve your concentration. You can count in 5s or 10s – whatever works best for you. Just pick a number, count up to it and then start again.
8. Notice When You Lose Focus
The next time your mind starts to wander in the middle of a meditation session, make a mental note so you can be prepared for next time. The out breath is a common place for a mental lapse, so keep an eye on yourself as this happens. When you know what triggers you to lose focus you can overcome it and stop it from affecting you in the future.
9. Realise the Benefits
I know, I know – you’ve already heard all the great things meditation can do for you! However, acknowledging the benefits helps you slot it into your schedule easier.
- Sleep – meditation is extremely powerful for helping you drift off to sleep. If you have trouble drifting off, then you’ll have spare time at night to settle your mind for bed. Use the time you would spend tossing and turning and turn it into something productive.
- Work – if you’re the type of person who becomes unproductive at a certain time of the day, slip outside or take a break for some quick meditation.
10. Make It a Part of You
One of the reasons people don’t meditate is because it’s not part of their regular schedule and, therefore, not a part of them. You need to make it a regular part of your routine. If you start telling yourself it’s a part of you and noticing how different you feel without it then you’ll never miss a session again. Making meditation a habit is a key step towards progressing and furthering your mental state.
Do you feel better after meditation?