Today I want to get a little deep with you guys. I want to take a break from healthy recipes and printables and talk about something that has changed. my. life. And the reason I want to talk about is that I think it can change your life, too…and so I’m hoping to present it in a way that doesn’t feel threatening or boring or weird. I want to talk about how to get started meditating.
My own meditation story starts just a couple of years ago, and is still in the beginning stages. So please don’t think that I’m an expert. But that’s kind of why I wanted to share this. One of the things I’ve realized, from hours of meditation, is that there are a million different ways to meditate and they all work. When I started I was so caught up in “doing it right” that I completely missed the point, which is so simple I can see why it would be easy to miss. The whole point is just to be.
That’s it, you guys. That is the whole point. And that little thing can change your life!
How to Get Started Meditating
I want to approach this post by answering some of the “big” questions I’ve had myself as my practice has grown. And so I want to start with one important thing:
There is no “right” way to meditate.
Before I started, I read a book in which the author talked about not knowing how to meditate herself and someone telling her just to focus on her breathing, and I thought, “yeah, but how do I really do it?!” I immediately found an app with short guided meditations.
If you feel like you need guidance, here are some resources to help you get started meditating:
- Apps: I used the app “Headspace” to help me in the beginning. Although it has paid options, the 10 meditation starter course is free and a great place to start.
- Youtube: You can also find guided meditations on Youtube, for basically any topic you want to address in your meditation (anxiety, stress, quieting your mind, etc.)
- Books: For someone who researches everything, and reads everything, I have actually not read any books dedicated to meditating. Which as I write that down, seems very unlike me. But I do recommend The Untethered Soul. It’s been awhile since I’ve read it, but this book really does a good job of teaching you how to unattach from that inner voice that won’t shut up.
Now for the big question – how do I meditate?
Here’s the beauty of this practice. It can look differently for everyone. You don’t have to sit cross-legged for an hour twice a day with your eyes closed. You don’t!
You can sit in a chair. You can lie down. You can close your eyes, you can open your eyes, or you can do both. You can meditate on a walk. You can meditate in an airplane. You can listen to music, or you can let the silence be your partner.
Don’t let all the “how to meditate” posts and books confuse you, guys. On this, I know one thing for sure – there is no one “right way” and the way that works best for you is the best way.
As you get deeper into your practice, it might change. You might look into different techniques. You might go from sitting in a chair to sitting cross-legged. Or, you might not. It’s all ok.
Here’s how you meditate:
You are still. You don’t have to be physically still, because like I said earlier, you can meditate while you’re walking, or even doing yoga. You are looking for stillness inside.
There are a million ways to find stillness, oneness, connectedness, wholeness. Google will share a bunch of different “techniques,” if you’d like some, and they all have something to offer, and might be right for you. Here are some I like:
- Meditate on your breath. That’s all you have to do – think about each breath as it goes in, and goes out. You can count them, if that helps. Count to 10, then start over again (this is something I learned from the Headspace app…it’s amazing how many times I’d get distracted and lose track of what number I was on!).
- Use a mantra. A mantra can be something you repeat over and over again in your head or out loud. You can look for a mantra that feels appropriate to your current situation, or you use something simple, like, “I am love.”
- Focus on your chakras, or energy centers. If this feels a little too out there for you, don’t think of them as chakras. Just pick a part of your body and focus on feeling the energy there. Once you can feel it, picture it moving through your body.
- Meditate on your heart. If you are scared, or sad, this is a good one. Just focus on your heart and imagine it sending out love.
- Meditate with a crystal (or any object, really). I love to meditate with crystals. I use it as a place to direct my thoughts. When I feel my brain wandering, I just think back to the crystal in my hand and focus on how it feels in my hand. It’s a place to direct my energy and a way to refocus my brain.
- Meditate on a favorite prayer or scripture.
- Meditate on something you’re grateful for. Hold it in your mind and surround it with light and love and just keep thinking about it.
- Look deeply at the nature around you. If you’re on a walk, turn off the headphones for a bit and just listen to the wind, the birds in the trees…and pay extra close attention to all the natural details around you.
At first, this might be hard, no matter what method you’re using. Your brain might feel like it’s going one million different directions at the same time. Then you might find yourself being frustrated because you are obviously the Worst Meditator Ever, and rather then finding peace and oneness with the universe, you just spent the last fifteen minutes of your life thinking about all the crap you have to do that day and how bad you are at meditating (or, that could just be me…ha!).
At first, it might be hard! It might feel like the opposite of what you expect you should be feeling.
But that is the lesson. Sometimes sitting with stillness is the hardest thing we can do. Once we learn to sit with that stillness and find that space (to me, it now feels like a physical space), things will start to shift.
Let expectations go. When it gets weird, or hard, or the thoughts are all flying in a million different directions, just imagine stepping out of the thoughts and thinking, “how interesting!” as you observe your thoughts floating by. Observe the thoughts and let them go (along with your expectations).
This is a practice. It’s called that because you actually have to practice it!
How long should I meditate for?
Start with 10 minutes. If that’s too unbearable, start with 5. Set a timer (a nice one that won’t make you anxious when it goes off!) and just sit. If you can go longer, great! If not…that’s ok, too.
For me, I sometimes need the first 10-15 minutes just to settle my brain. I have a little routine that I go through in my head to get into “meditation mode” that take a couple minutes. Then I struggle with all the thoughts for another few minutes (sometimes, I struggle with all the thoughts for the entire practice). I need time to unfold into the meditation.
In the beginning, though, I kept it to 10 minutes. This is completely doable…anyone can find 10 minutes! If you really, really think you can’t find 10 minutes in your day…dedicate a few minutes to it in bed before you fall asleep. Or when you wake up, instead of hitting snooze.
In the beginning, 10 minutes a day is a great goal (if that’s too much, shoot for 10 minutes a day 2-3 days a week and go from there).
What will I get out of meditating?
Real quick, I just want to say this…if you’re reading this because you think you should be meditating, but you’ve been lazy or reluctant to try it for whatever reason, that is the universe telling you to give this a try!
Here are some of the benefits I feel when my meditation practice is on point:
- I feel at peace (sometimes just for a short time before succumbing to the “real world” around me – but it’s like a muscle, and the more I do it, the longer it lasts!)
- I feel connected – to nature, to my job, to my family, to strangers, to the entire universe (some call it God, some call it the Universe, come call it Consciousness…call it what you will, I’m more connected to it!).
- I sleep better!
- I am kinder and more patient with my family.
- I feel like I’m operating at a higher vibration.
- I’m more mindful, and this carries over to my daily activities – including the amount of time I spend on my phone (which is less!) and the food I put in my body (which is better!).
- I often get answers to questions or issues that I’ve been struggling with or wondering about.
- I feel inspired.
- I feel grateful.
- I feel perspective (like, don’t sweat the small stuff!) and less anxiety.
Who doesn’t want to feel those things, right?
I hope I tapped into some of the burning questions or road blocks you might be feeling if you’re thinking about starting a meditation practice. The biggest takeaways are this: 10 minutes is fine, sit however you like, and just breath.
You’ve got this!
Is this something you’re interested in? I’m thinking about doing a post with more details about some of the stuff I talked about above…if you have questions, let me know below or find me on Facebook or Instagram – I’d love to connect!