Want to try meditation but have no idea how to start?
With the vast amount of information available it can be challenging to figure out where to start. The beauty of meditation is that it can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish; there are no rules and there is no right or correct way to practice meditation. It is called meditation practice because meditating is a continual practice over a life time. Each meditation session is by nature totally different and this is totally normal; our experience will be influenced by daily events, our mood, mental state or distractions, physical energy highs and lows or some type of pain or discomfort. The best approach to meditation is to keep an open mind and refrain from any self-judgement or preconceived ideas about what you believe meditation should look like. The benefits of meditation are cumulative, so simplicity and consistency are the optimal goals of any practice. Keep it simple!
How do we keep it simple? First, just start by getting used to sitting still. Yes, this can take practice! I encourage starting with 5-minute sessions and the use of a timer to minimize the need or desire to look at the clock. Let the timer do the work for you. Next, get comfortable … but not so comfortable that you become drowsy. Sit on a cushion or a chair with your hands resting comfortably in your lap and then close your eyes. Breathe in deeply and focus on a slow, prolonged exhale – repeat 4 more times. Focus now on physical and auditory sensations. Pay attention to everything you hear, identify each sound, label it and move on to the next sound. Examples of labelling could be breathing, clock ticking, bird chirping, airplane, car, children playing, etc. Start with immediate sounds that are within the room and then listen to the sounds outdoors in the street and neighbourhood. What do you notice physically? Sensations like the room temperature or breeze on your skin, the contact points your body makes with the chair, cushion or floor, any tingling sensations or physical discomfort, the different sensations in your nose, throat and chest as you breathe in and out. Just see what you notice. That’s it, you’re meditating!
This is an invaluable practice in observation and focus on the present moment. Make an appointment with yourself 2-3 days per week to meditate and once you become comfortable with a regular practice, experiment with various session lengths and frequency. Keep in mind that meditation is not a linear practice that has progressively longer sessions. Every day is different – one day you might be able to meditate for 10 minutes, the next day for 20 minutes and the following session could be 5 minutes. It is all beneficial so approach each session with an open mind and just see what happens. Enjoy the moment!