To me, meditation is simply sitting in silence and bringing awareness to your internal landscape for a few moments. I have been meditating regularly since 2019 – and by regularly I mean every day.
A regular (every day) meditation practice is, in my experience, simply life-changing.
It can also be as complicated or simple as you choose to make it. As I prefer to keep everything simple, and love to support those at the start of a transformational journey, I thought it might be useful to write this beginner’s guide based on my journey to regular meditation practice.
Any new habit begins with a decision.
If you decide to try meditation, commit to yourself. Try a minute and keep it simple – no specific postures, clothing, area of your home, music, or hand positions are required.
If you commit to giving yourself a few minutes of silence a day for a week, you might already notice small positive changes. Start with 1 minute. Then move to 2 minutes.
It is better to meditate for 2 minutes every day than to try a 20-minute meditation once and not again for a week.
If you commit to a month, you are likely to feel the effects, perhaps in your increased level of self-awareness, in less reactivity, in feeling calmer as life comes and goes around you.
If you continue for a few months, you are likely to notice that you have a strong desire to return to meditation if you miss a few days.
If you sit in silence regularly for years, your outlook on life is likely to change for the better. In my experience, all areas of your life will be positively impacted.
Sitting in Silence – Step 1
Find a corner at home where you can sit comfortably, preferably alone, and do so.
I start my day with meditation. Some prefer the evening. Sometimes I do both morning and evening. No judgement. Meditation is a practice. It should suit your lifestyle.
I have young children. I did not meditate when I had babies, although looking back I wish I had. I forgot to prioritise myself at all for a few years, but that is a separate story that you can read about here if you wish.
When I started to meditate, I set my alarm to wake up before my children, so I could give myself the best shot at sitting still, solo and focusing on me alone. It worked.
In my experience getting up really early was a requirement, but it has not been a long term necessity. Once you get used to it, however, you might decide you like to wake early. Dawn, while everyone is still asleep, is a magical part of the day.
Now that my daughters know I meditate every morning, they tend to leave me to it. Sometimes they will join me and usually stay quiet. If they don’t, I now feel comfortable prioritising my morning meditation, and ask them to scram! In the old days, I probably would have abandoned my meditation once they arrived.
Also, because increased compassion is a side effect of regular meditation, I can now be interrupted and be ok with it. I can also more easily keep focused, or return to focus once interrupted. In the old days, I probably would have got angry.
Sitting in Silence – Step 2
Once you are sitting comfortably, with your spine straight and your chin slightly tucked in, start by taking 3 deep exaggerated breaths. In through your nose and out through your mouth. This has the effect of calming and slowing and settling you.
The aim here is to relax your body so your mind can relax too. It can be helpful to breathe in –
- positive energy (or life force, prana or chi) and relax on the out breath.
- goodness and let go of any stresses on the out breath.
- acceptance and release judgement on the out breath.
Then with your hand on your lap or knees, or on your heart, let your breathing return to normal; in and out through your nose.
Once you get more comfortable with having meditation in your life, try joining a 21-day meditation challenge. Once I had started to meditate regularly I began to sign up for various 21 or 30-day meditation challenges. I was so moved by Deepak Chopra’s abundance meditation challenge that I even wrote a blog post about it.
Sitting in Silence – Step 3
This part, once you are sitting comfortably, your body more relaxed, and your breathing regular, is where the mind will wander because that is what our minds do.
Meditation is a practice. It is a simple repeated exercise. It is not a competitive sport, nor does it require any judgement on your part. On some days meditation feels easy and on some days it is a real challenge just to sit still.
So with this insight; the knowledge that all of us experience busy minds, you can become an observer of your thoughts. When your thoughts arrive, choose not to follow them. Let them float by, like –
- clouds passing over a blue sky. Your mind is the sky and your thoughts are the clouds.
- a bus arriving at the stop and your letting it leave again. Your mind is the stop and your thoughts are the passing busses.
- cars passing below you along a busy road. Your mind is the landscape below and your thoughts are the cars.
If you do notice you have followed a train of thought, again, no judgement is required. Simply choose to let the thought go.
Keep doing this again and again, and over time you will become better at noticing when you are following your thoughts.
Support Your Habit
There are many ways to support you to be still and observe. Counting is very helpful as it will help you to focus. Try this method of counting up to 10.
- Breathe in and as you exhale count 1.
- Inhale and as you exhale count 2.
- Inhale and as you exhale count 3.
If you get lost or drift off in thought, come back to 1 and start again.
If you hear sounds, just notice them and let them go. If there are scents or physical feelings as you sit, notice and let go.
This is the simple art of meditation.
While I am no guru, I do meditate daily, and it has improved the quality of my days, and lifted the tone of my life.
I feel more spacious, I am less reactive and I have more compassion.
If I were asked to name ONE simple habit that has improved the quality of my life the most, I would answer, without hesitation – meditation.
I put together a freebie for you so you can start to make some simple habit shifts and begin to improve the quality of your life, simply. I called it Scattered to Serene and you can grab it below.
It has a few simple systems for your mornings, your days and your evenings to serve as a loose framework for not just getting through the days, but getting through them well.
Over to you.
And thanks as always for reading.