Are you a newbie to meditating?
Have you tried it before and are still unsure how to meditate?
Meditation is not quite what people imagine it to be. It’s about changing your relationship with thoughts and feelings and learning to view them with perspective. Confusing, eh? Well, at least that’s what I thought when I was first introduced to meditation in my Yoga Teacher training program. When people ask me how to meditate, I always share my first-time experience in comparison to how I meditate today. Every time you meditate, it is going to be a different experience and hopefully, a better one every time.
In this blog post, you will learn more about 3 things;
- Why meditation is important?
- What do you need in order to meditate?
- How to meditate?
- Recommended apps to guide you through meditation
Why meditation is important?
What is the first thought that pops up in your mind when you think of meditation? It’s not an easy question to ask because it varies for so many people. The one way to go about it is to, ‘view’ your thoughts. Looking at your thoughts more than getting involved with them.
I try that out for about 1 min – goes by pretty fast when in your flow of thought.
By definition, Meditation is a practice where an individual focuses their mind on a particular object, thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.
As the creator of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Jon Kabat-Zinn, says: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” It’s the practice of noticing the degree in which we are identified with our ideas and beliefs, creating a space for :
- Awareness, not thinking
- An attitude of openness and curiosity, not judging
- Flexibility of attention, not resisting
One of the main reasons why people meditate is to lower stress level. In today’s current society, everything is always fast-paced, so sometimes, it is necessary to stop and take a breath to relax. Having a high stress-level can result in sleepless nights, days of fatigue, anxiety, and even depression. A study from the Institute of Health in nearly 1,300 adults demonstrated that meditation may decrease stress, and its effects were the most prominent in those with the highest levels of stress.
Even if you do not meditate, it is still crucial to find ways to keep stress levels low, since constantly in a state of stress can damage your health both physically and mentally. Many people experience tranquility, relief, and relaxation after meditating. It does not have to be long sessions of continuous meditation–in fact, we don’t want you to do that! The point of meditation is not for it to become a burden, but to help you achieve a better state of well-being. For example, one study found that merely four days of practicing meditation may be enough to increase one’s attention span.
Although long sessions of meditation are not mandatory, I do recommend having consistency in your practices. If consistent meditation is incorporated into your daily life, it will aid both in your consciousness and your lifestyle, creating a positive habit.
Not to mention, it is also quite relaxing to take your eyes off the screen after being stuck on social media for the whole day. Meditation helps you to concentrate more on yourself, rather than what is occurring around you, and I think that is what really helps me be more aware of both my state of being and those around me.
What do you need to meditate?
Blanket to sit on
Optional – Guided meditation app
Top apps to help you meditate
Inscape – one of my favorites!
This free app offers guided meditation and breathing tools to help beginners (or anyone) to set the atmosphere for meditating. It provides you with daily suggestions of various types of meditation methods, and even cathartic playlists you can choose from.
Just like its name, this app provides functions for you to feel comfortable in your own headspace. They have a wide collection of sessions to choose from such as work, sleep, kids… you name it! Their template is also very easy to understand. This app does cost money, but you can have a 10-day trial just to test the waters. If you really want to get into meditation, this app is for you!
This is an award-winning meditation app valued at $250 million, one of the top meditation apps along with Headspace. It was named the 2017 app of the year by Apple itself. The app includes many guided meditations, soothing music, and even bedtime stories. However, while it is free to download, it costs $70/year after you finish your trial.
What is it like to meditate?
So let’s try it out for 15 seconds;
- Close your eyes and sit still (I prefer to sit because you are trying to be as comfortable as possible).
- Take deep inhales and exhales for 15 seconds. Trying to fill your lungs a little more each time to inhale.
- If you find your mind drifting to other thoughts, try and bring your focus back to your breath.
- Pretend you are standing at a train station and just observe. Key thing is to not react to your thoughts. Make a conscious effort to drift away if you feel like your thoughts are spiraling to other reactive thoughts.
That was hard, wasn’t it?
Meditation is something you cannot just jump into. Remember not to overfeed your negative wolf. Neither your thoughts nor your emotions can determine how you behave. Being caught up in your emotions and letting them guide your behaviors is a state called ‘fusion’. We are working towards “defusion”: the ability to separate ourselves from our thoughts.
In his book “ACT made simple, ” Russ Harris defines ‘defusion’ as:
- Looking at thoughts rather than from your thoughts
- Noticing thoughts rather than being caught up in them
- Letting thoughts come and go rather than holding on to them
It’s important to note that thoughts do not control our actions unless we allow them to do so. You need to be patient with yourself, especially after a long day or week where your mind isn’t at rest. That’s where meditation enables you to pull back and observe yourself from another point of view. It may not be easy, but you can start small and get better and better as you practice.
Meditation isn’t always easy or even peaceful. But it has wondrous effects, and you can start today, develop a consistent habit, and benefit from it for the rest of your life. After all it only takes 30 days to form a habit.