You’ve heard of all the benefits to meditating but have you ever given it a try? When I first tried it I failed miserably. My first attempt was to sit there for 15 minutes while trying to “think of nothing.” I could probably only pull off around 5 seconds of thought free time before I was thinking about what’s for dinner, I should call my mom, I need to get the car serviced, etc. I would then get annoyed for losing focus and force myself to think of nothing again. And so the cycle continued.
What worked for me was a much easier way to get started meditating. These are the tips I’ve learned:
- Find Quiet. Turn off the TV, radio, cell phones, sign out of messenger, mail, and any other thing that can interrupt you.
- Start with 5 minutes. I found a 15 minute meditation a little too long to start off with. Instead I backed off down to 5 minutes and found that a much more manageable starting point.
- Sit Comfortably. I made the mistake of sitting cross legged on the floor without cushions. My ankle put pressure on my other leg’s shin bone which was a small ache to begin with but eventually grew into a nasty pain. I now sit naturally on a chair (trying not to slouch) or cross legged on the floor with some pillows.
- Adjust if Uncomfortable. Trying to ignore a small ache until it grows into a pain is just pointless. The pain will scream for your attention and continually interrupt your concentration. So instead, adjust your seating. After you’ve meditated a few times you’ll learn how to sit in a way that will keep you comfortable for the duration of your meditation and so you won’t have to adjust any more.
- Loosen Up. I sometimes carry a lot of tension that I’m not aware of until I focus on relaxing. I wear glasses and I’ve found that I have tension in my ears to hold my glasses in place. Weird! To relax, I scrunch up my shoulders to my ears and then slowly let them fall down. I feel the muscles in my face relax. I relax my cheeks, my mouth, my shoulders a little more. Loosen my arms. Feel my hands get heavy. Oh, and I also take off my glasses.
- Close Your Eyes. I find closing my eyes entirely works for me. Others have had success with keeping their eyes half open but I find that I just end up thinking about what I’m looking at.
- Don’t Think of Nothing. It’s a mistake to try and fight thoughts and force yourself to “think of nothing”. If you haven’t meditated before you may not be aware that you’re not really in control of your thoughts. If you’re not in control you’re going to have a really hard time trying to control your mind by thinking of nothing.