By Chrissy Carter
Starting a meditation practice doesn’t have to be intimidating. When we let go of our expectations and meet ourselves with patience and kindness, the practice of meditation becomes more accessible. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Go Back To The Start
Meditation asks us to sit with our experience as it is without trying to suppress, change, or judge what comes up. Thoughts will arise. Your mind will get distracted—period. When you catch yourself caught up in your thoughts, return to your chosen object of concentration and start again. In that way, meditation is actually a very simple practice, albeit challenging to execute! Remember: It’s a practice. There’s no goal other than to participate in your experience.
Set Realistic Goals
Consider this: If you wanted to start lifting weights, you wouldn’t begin by trying to bench press 100 pounds. That would be silly. The same thing goes for meditation! Start small. Literally, try one minute! See what happens. Let go of unrealistic expectations. You can take a moment wherever you are and pause, connect to your breath, and look within.
Engage Your Senses
Engaging our senses channels our attention and sets the stage for concentration. Give it a try: Close your eyes and focus on the sounds around you. Zoom in—what do you hear in your immediate environment? Now zoom out and listen to the sounds off in the distance. Notice how the quality of your attention changes through the practice of listening. You can engage any of your senses in this way.
Be Kind To Yourself
When we sit quietly with ourselves, we’re not always going to like what we see. The key is to be kind to ourselves. A big part of the meditation practice is about getting to know our patterns of thinking. The work is to allow thoughts to come up without getting involved. Can you simply witness your thoughts without adding judgement and self-criticism to the fire? Observe and acknowledge what arises, and then gently redirect your attention back to your chosen technique.
Make It Relevant
Do what works. Don’t try to jam a square peg into a round hole. There are so many different meditation styles out there. Know that there is no one way. Experiment with different techniques and then practice whatever works for you. When meditation feels relevant and accessible, it will foster genuine discipline and compel you to stick with it even when it feels hard.
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