Meditation is becoming a hot topic. Everyone from celebrities to politicians are raving about it, I’m calling it the new kind of superfood and even the scientific community is paying attention with new studies being conducted every day (check out this awesome video) into the effectiveness of a daily meditation practice. For beginners, it can seem daunting... but never fear! There are many simple and effortless techniques out there to help you get started. This beginners guide to meditation will equip you with all the tools necessary to get started.
What’s the fuss all about?
Meditation has been proven to have numerous benefits physiologically, psychologically and spiritually. For a full list of benefits check out this list. For me, the big attraction towards meditation was its positive effect on dissolving anxiety. Before I headed off around the world I was working in Public Relations, and while I loved my job, PR by definition is stressful! I tried various techniques to relieve the anxitey I was experiencing on a daily basis but couldn’t find anything that really worked. Then I met meditation, which became my sanity saviour and is now my constant source of joy and inspiration.
So, what IS meditation?
This is a loaded question as it means so many things to different people and cultures. For me, meditation is the art of becoming self aware, of letting go, gaining perspective and enabling my creativity to flow. Meditation has been practiced for centuries and teaches us to let go of our thoughts and feelings and simply be. It’s this ‘simply being’ that creates a sense of calm and kicks anxiety to the curve.
How do you meditate?
It seems so easy, sit comfortably and be Zen... but without a good technique or instruction from an expert teacher this can seem like a difficult and daunting task! Quieting your mind is actually a very simple and natural process. In a stressed state, your body and minds natural response it to bombard you with thoughts - this is OK and completely normal - it’s how you relate to these thoughts and emotions that counts. There are so many techniques out there and just like most things in life it’s about finding what works for you. Find a technique that you’ll actually do every day. I’ve tried it all; walking meditation, mindfulness, guided meditations, candle meditations, mantra meditations, chanting meditations, the list goes on! I encourage you to try them out… some you will like, others you won’t connect with and that’s OK. It’s good to stick with one that you enjoy doing and can fit into your daily life as, just like getting physically fit, the benefits of meditation come from daily repetition of an exercise.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Let technology be your friend and use an app.
The best way to try something for the first time is to do it for free! There are a number of resources out there to help you that are available on your smartphone for free, so there are no excuses! Check out: 1 Giant Mind, Headspace and Smiling Mind.
2. Make time and be disciplined about it!
Start with just 5 minutes, you’re not going to see life changing results in just 5 minutes, but it’s about forming a habit. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit so if you start with just 5 minutes a day you are well on your way.
3. Keep a journal.
This is a great way to track your progress and keep you motivated. Write down a few notes after each meditation session about how you feel and what came up for you. After a few weeks of regular meditation you will be able to look back over your progress and see the changes.
4. Find a teacher or course that you connect with.
Most yoga studios offer meditation classes, which are a great way of trying different styles. There are also loads of fantastic meditation teachers out there. Check out the lovely Laura Poole, she offers Vedic meditation courses in Melbourne, the delightful Erin Kyna also runs classes in Melbourne and offers online courses and the gorgeous Kim McPherson from The Well Nurse runs courses in Sydney as well as online. These babes will teach you everything you need to know.
So there you have it, there are absolutely no excuses! What are you waiting for? Give it a try and let me know how it makes you feel