A lot of people want to learn how to meditate, but many feel overwhelmed or aren’t sure where to start. But with so many benefits that come with a meditation practice, it’s well worth the effort.
Raise your hand if sometimes your day feels like a succession of random experiences rolled into 24 hours? Well, what if you could actually slow these experiences down and punctuate your day with peace and gentleness?
Well the good news is … YOU CAN!
Meditation is a conduit to peace, calm and focus. It’s proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and is a powerful and personal practice that allows you the space to discover the subtle parts of yourself that are often overlooked.
Ever had a moment of deep contemplation, where your awareness gently rests on one thing? Without any pressure, judgement, or distraction, just concentrating and being mindful of that one thing? Remember that feeling of peace?
If so, then this is meditation!
Meditation has been practiced throughout the ages, and today is no different. Now as millions discover the art of self-change, it’s easy to feel like you don’t exactly know where to start.
Learn How to Meditate In 6 Simple Steps:
Here’s how to start a simple meditation practice – follow these six easy steps.
1. Step one: Nominate a space
Building an association between meditation and a particular space allows you to feel more relaxed. As you approach the space, you can almost feel the relief and peace of returning back to the sanctuary of your own inner world.
This way you build positive associations, which will encourage you to continue with your meditation practice.
Feel free to decorate your space with items that may signify peace and calm to you. Things to help you relax like candles, precious stones, incense, singing bowls, etc. These are simply aids to help you feel comfortable, but are not a part of the actual meditation process. Therefore these are optional and not essential.
2. Step two: Sit comfortably
Find a comfortable chair or cushion that supports your regular seated posture. Try to avoid anything that reclines or that offers too much cushioning. The temptation here is for the body is to fall asleep! Especially if you are feeling a little tired.
However the aim is to maintain a comfortable position whilst remaining aware. Some people prefer to sit directly on the ground, so find the best seated option that works for your body and your space!
3. Step three: Relax your breathing
Gently bring your awareness to your breath. Notice how you’ve probably just taken a bigger breath than normal, or exhaled for longer. Trust your lungs to regulate the flow of air.
Pay attention to your chest as it lightly rises and falls. Simply observe and patiently get lost in the eventual rhythm of your breathing that forms.
4. Step four: Soften your gaze on a focal point
I encourage anyone who meditates to do it with their eyes open. Closed eye meditation creates dependency on having to be in a static environment. Yet the reality of life is that we often have things going on around us.
As you continue with your meditation practice, you’ll want to meditate anywhere – and you don’t want to look weird standing in line for groceries with your eyes closed! Find a focal point in-front of you and gently soften your vision.
5. Step five: Affirm your consciousness
Connect to your powerful, positive, nurturing and pure inner qualities. All the things that make ‘you’ you. When we view the physical body as our external expression of ourself, we can then use meditation to focus on our inner spiritual identity and the quality of our thoughts.
Here in meditation, the only purpose of wasteful thoughts are to hold us back. We therefore gently observe any negative thoughts as they leave our mental space and quietly float away. Without force, we kindly give ourselves permission to host the more positive and beneficial ideas of ourself.
For example, I hold images of myself as my best self and recall the kind words from loved ones about my positive qualities. In this moment I choose to feel safe and protected and allow my inner thoughts to emerge. Observing these and visualizing images of happy times; moments when my heart was most full. This is who I am, I affirm this.
Focusing on this, I feel the awareness of my physical form gently fading away, leaving my blissful consciousness free to experience itself. Focus on these positive thoughts and feelings of simply being and feel the awareness of your physical form gently fading away.
6. Step six: Experience your consciousness
Stay here for a short while (could be five breaths or five minutes to start!).
Experience this consciousness. How do you feel? Notice your thoughts. What is coming up for you? Just observe the thoughts that arise. Detach from any judgement or criticism and simply notice yourself. Notice your breath.
When you’re ready, allow your gaze to refocus and return your awareness back to your surroundings.
There . . . you’ve just meditated!
You Are Ready to Begin a Meditation Practice!
These steps can be repeated as often as needed to begin experiencing meditation. As your interest in meditation grows, it’s also important to connect with different styles of meditation to find out what works best for you.
Connect with teachers and other meditators. Read lots of traditional and modern texts – this will also enrich your experience and help you deepen your meditation practice.
I truly hope this has been helpful in inspiring you to take the next step in meditation. In the words of Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” All we have to do now is take it.
If you want to dive deeper into your meditation practice, check out 100 Miles Per Hour – Derek’s beginner’s guide to meditation. This short and accessible ebook provides insight and guidance to begin – and maintain – a fulfilling meditation practice. All proceeds are donated to Black Thrive, a Black mental health charity.