10 Tips for starting meditation
Choose your time
Choose a convenient time, one when you will not be disturbed for the duration of your meditation. Often early morning or later in the evening is the best. The world is quiter and it can be easier to drop in to your meditation. It’s important when starting to keep a regular routine, so set up a meditation time and do it at the same time every day.
Choose your place
Where you meditate can really have a positive effect on your practice. Finding a safe, comfortable space will help you feel at home in a new meditation practice. Set aside some space in a room and make sure it is comfortable. Use the same place every day to help trigger a meditation reflex in your body.
Choose your outfit
In general, you will want to wear loose fitting clothing for your meditation. Tracksuits or comfortable cotton trousers and t-shirts work best. Some might be tempted to say only use natural fibres (no fleeces), but experiment and come to your own decision on this.
The traditional image of someone meditating usually has them kneeling or sitting in lotus pose. However, this isn’t necessary at all. Finding a comfortable sitting posture that you can hold without aches and pains for the length of the meditation is much more important. You really want to be able to concentrate on your meditation without being distracted by any discomfort. Sitting on a chair is a good option. It will allow you to sit comfortably. Remember to keep your spine straight and gently elevate the head.
It may seem obvious, but once you’ve set aside your time, turn off your phone. Text messages, instant messages, phone calls, status updates are all potential distractions that our monkey mind will pull us towards. Stopping the distractions before they start.
Follow your breath
Start with a simple meditation and stick to it – following your breath in and out, progressively tracing the path of the air through your nostrils into your lungs is an excellent first meditation. As is simply keeping your mind on your hara or dantien. The most important thing here is not to flit between different types of meditation in the same session. Your mind needs time to settle and bouncing between different methods is just giving in to the monkey mind again.
Keep it up
Try to get a schedule going and stick with it. Nothing beats consistency and it’s better to do a little every day rather than a mammoth session once a month. Keep a visible calendar and put a star on it every day you meditate – seeing an unbroken streak will motivate you to keep at it.
Keep a blanket nearby
As your body and mind become still, you might start to feel cold – keep a blanket over your shoulders to keep warm. A hoodie can also work well.
Do some light exercise before hand
Warm up the body and stretch out before your meditation. Some light yoga like some sun salutes or a few minutes of downward dog or makko-ho exercises are great, especially since you will be sitting relatively still for your meditation.
Meditate in chaos
Sometimes it’s good to forget all the above advice about finding a quiet spot and do your meditation in a busy office or crowded subway. After all, being able to meditate when conditions are perfect is not the only goal – you want your meditation to spill over into the hurly burly of everyday life so you can better cope with stress. If you can meditate in the midst of chaos, you’ll be better for it.