What is the one thing someone new to meditation should know when starting out?
That it’s not an easy practice! And I still struggle with it sometimes.
Have you noticed every time you sit and close your eyes for meditation, your nose starts to itch, you feel the need to go to the toilet, or maybe you get this sudden urge to clean your entire living room? Anything but be still and quiet?
You want to meditate; you know it’s good for you, but it’s just not happening. You start to doubt yourself and the practice, and eventually give up trying? If that’s you, know that you are not alone. In meditation we are training the muscle of our mind to be still and quiet. Be patient with yourself.
Here are some common complaints/comments I hear from people when starting out. I want to help by offering you some tips on how to start.
I am too busy; time is of the essence.
In a world of constant doing, meditation can seem like a waste of time, so why should we sit and do nothing? The truth is, the busier we are, the more we need the practice of meditation to balance our lives. As you might already know, meditation helps reduce anxiety, gain more clarity in challenging situations, help us manage stress and pain, we feel more grounded and calmer, we perform better at work and live a more conscious life, to name the least. If all you have is 5 minutes a day, then give yourself the permission to being still and present for those 5 minutes.
I have tight hips and my knee hurts when I sit on the ground.
Being on the floor in a crossed legged position is just one of the many ways to sit in meditation. You can very well sit on a chair or lean your back against a wall! The idea is to find a comfortable position whatever that looks like for you. A position where you are able to remain relaxed and alert at the same time. Yoga blocks, cushions, bolsters are excellent props to use to help support your body feel more comfortable.
Every time I try to meditate, I end up falling asleep.
If you are tired, then rest. My preferred time for meditation is first thing in the morning when I’m most well rested. If there is a yoga or meditation community you can go to, I would suggest participating in a guided meditation with a teacher. It’s not quite the same if we simply put on a You Tube guided meditation video and doing it all by ourselves at home. You can certainly do that once you get the hang of it. But first, go and experience the energy and power in collective group meditation.
I can’t sit still for long, I feel restless.
If you feel restless when it comes to sitting still, try first to release some of the energy by going for a walk, run, dance etc. In my experience, it is a lot easier to be still once we have released some of the excess energy from our bodies. If you have a yoga asana practice, try incorporating meditation at the end of your practice.
Lastly, be gentle with yourself, have compassion for your body, befriend your thoughts instead of judging them, welcome all sensations, welcome all external sounds and sounds from within. Notice and witness all that you see and feel behind closed eyes and let all that you experience be part of your practice.