The elusive “art” of meditation—you imagine it involves sitting still, and silently, feeling completely at peace internally and externally.
Maybe you visualize a butterfly landing on your shoulder, and an overall feeling of serenity. It sounds perfect. It seems attainable. So, when you finally sit yourself down to give it a try, you feel discouraged when you find that you’re all at once fidgety, impatient, uncomfortable, and battling an onslaught of monkey chatter.
Take a deep breath. That’s normal.
“Meditation does not come easily to me.
My mind wanders relentlessly.
I complained about this once to an Indian monk
and he laughed and said,
it’s a pity you’re the only human being on the planet
who has that problem.”
-Elizabeth Gilbert via NPR.
There’s a reason why they call mediation a practice.
Meditation is—generally speaking—not something that people can achieve immediately. It takes work, it takes discipline, dedication, and constant practice. What’s more, meditation is something that is different for everyone. Each individuals experience will be different, as will each individual’s intention. Some come to meditation for stillness, clarity, and quiet, while some practice to search for answers, inspiration, and ultimately, enlightenment. Your practice, your mantra, your routine—it will likely be different from your colleagues, your best friend’s, or your significant other’s. That’s okay.
Trust the process. Sit with your thoughts, acknowledge them, and be patient with the time it takes for them to quiet.
Create A Comforting Space
Everyone can benefit from having a space in their house, backyard, apartment, or van (shout out to van-life enthusiasts!) where they can go to find peace, calm, and quiet.
Create a space that you can go to for your meditation practice that invites feelings of serenity and comfort. Place pillows and blankets in the corner of your bedroom. Open up a window to invite fresh air in. If your desk is your happy place, add a soft smelling candle, or incense. Adding crystals to your meditation space can help cleanse the energy, and additionally can align with the intentions your setting in your practice.
Remember, there’s no wrong way to create a comforting space. Follow your intuition. Stay true to what works best for you. If that giant teddy bear you’ve been eyeing at Costco will make for your ultimate meditation cushion then go for it!
It may not sound like the best mashup—using a cell phone, iPad, or laptop during a meditation practice—but hear me out. Guidance may be just what you need in order to develop a successful meditation practice. Thanks to meditation apps, that guidance can come right to your finger tips.
Popular apps like Headspace, Calm, Buddhify, and Omvana all offer a variety of meditation sessions. From five minutes to 30 minutes, these guided meditations can be used in just about any circumstance. Turn to your app before bed for better sleep, in the morning to set the tone for the day, or even on your commute to/from work. In a time where our cell phones are like an extra limb, it’s nice to know that a tech time-out, and a moment of zen, is just a click away.
Join A Group
Not ready to go it alone and need a little motivation, and inspiration? Join a group meditation. From pop-up experiences like The Big Quiet, to actual in-studio classes, group meditations are a great place for beginners to start. Having a set class schedule, and a specific place to go, may help beginners stick to their meditation practice, too.
Not to mention, paying for a membership at a studio tends to have a way of keeping us coming back for more. You’ll want to get your money’s worth—but there’s the added bonus of building a strong foundation for your meditation practice, and maybe even making a zen-friend, or two. Ohm, yeah!
Make Mindful Moves
For all my fellow fidgeters, it’s okay if you can’t sit still. There’s still hope for us folk that haven’t mastered the sitting-on-a-meditation-pouf-in-a-quiet-room style of meditation. For us, a moving meditation might be a better place to start. Bonus: It’s been said that mindful activities like forest bathing, knitting, and hiking (among others) can have a calming, stress-relieving, meditative effect.
Have a tip for beginners that we didn’t mention here? Let us know in the comments section below!