Meditation is scary. When I thought about meditation, I had images of enlightened beings in the lotus position in silent meditation for hours, days, weeks. Or monks ritualising meditation in the safety and austerity of their monastery.
Meditation need not be complicated. Meditation is not scary.
There are lots of different types of meditation, but my focus for this month is mindfulness. Mindfulness is definitely not scary. Mindfulness is incredibly accessible for anyone, all you need is a mind, time, and a little will. If you’re interested in trying it out, there are some tips below. I’d like to thank Elise, the founder of Mindful in May for her generosity in letting me share the following – much of which I’ve learned from her program.
How do I start?
Like many things, meditation may be easier if you take a class or join a group like Calm in the City in Melbourne. If you’re a self starter, or the more solitary type, here’s some tips on how to get kicked off with mindfulness that I’ve learned over the last 3 weeks:
- Make some time. This could be whenever you want it in the day, before work, lunchtime, after work. Just set aside some time and devote it to yourself.
- Find a comfortable place. Sit or lie down in a position where you’re not going to fidget.
- Find a place where you’re not going to be too distracted to start with. I’d also not listen to music as you’ll likely get carried away with the tune and lose yourself.
- Set a timer on your phone or something else that will go off in 10 minutes. This is a good amount of time to start with, to get your mind used to being quiet. As you get more practised, you can try and increase this time.
- Give yourself permission to let go of the day. Set aside your worries, don’t think about dinner and take 10 minutes time out.
- Once you’re set, take a couple of deep breaths. Let the air go all the way out and then focus on the breath as it flows into and out of the body. Once you’re comfortable with that, try and simply feel the breath. Don’t try and control it, just let it happen and notice how it affects your body. The sensations of your chest rising and falling, the air rushing in and out, the sound you may make.
- Be patient. When thoughts come up (and they will), don’t worry about them. Notice them, accept them and then return your focus to the breath, sensations or wherever it is.
- Observe the sensations throughout your body, starting at your feet and working your way up. Notice temperature, tensions, tingles, the works.
- Think about sharing it with someone, I know that always helps me stick with it.
Elise from Mindful in May, said in an email today: When practising mindfulness, it’s helpful to actively remind yourself to bring a friendly, kind and accepting attitude to whatever experience arises in the moment. This doesn’t mean you have to like what is happening, but rather just bring an openness and curiosity to whatever is present.
What do I do next?
Keep going! Try and lengthen your practices. Join a group in your area.
I’ve just started thinking about what I will do after the end of May, and I really want to keep sticking with this habit. I will be going along to Calm in the City on Monday nights, but also I’m going to look for some other meditation and mindfulness classes that can carry this further – to keep me motivated. As I discover my next steps, I will continue writing about it, so check back and see what I’ve discovered.