“Breathe in calm, breathe out anxiety.” These are the thoughts that swirl in your head as you try and clear your mind.
The idea of meditation has been circling social media, and many users of platforms such as TikTok and Instagram are encouraging younger generations to start a meditation practice. This is not as easy as influencers make it sound and it can be difficult to figure out how to start meditating.
Listed below are a few tips and tricks to help your meditation practice prosper.
What is Meditation?
The word meditation has been commonly used in the past few months, yet many do not know what it means. The act of meditating is meant to clear the mind of troubling thoughts and enhance your awareness. Your awareness can include being conscious of your surroundings, the sensations you feel, and even the taste of different substances. By focusing on your awareness, you are learning to observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.
Meditation originated many years ago and although it is believed that many different civilizations practiced this, meditation is most likely derived from religious practices associated with Buddhism. This religion is founded on the idea that practitioners would sit and breathe mindfully to reach inner peace. Meditation began to move to western cultures beginning in the nineteenth century as a result of colonization. During that time, meditation was practiced mainly by scholars and missionaries who knew the ancestry.
What are the health benefits?
In addition to improving focus, meditation has many health benefits that improve both mental health and mental illness. When you become aware of how your body is feeling, you can manage your pain in a better way. With the help of meditation, pain associated with illnesses such as asthma, cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease may be managed.
Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are aided by meditation practices. When we become anxious our heart rate increases rapidly because it believes we are in danger. Using breathing exercises helps get air to our lungs and signal to our brain to slow our heart rate.
Although meditation will not cure illness, it is a useful tool that can improve our mental health and relieve pain.
How to start
As with any new hobby, one of the hardest tasks is to start. Just as running is healthy for our heart, meditation improves focus, awareness and opens our minds to new perspectives. By beginning a meditation practice, you are bettering your mind and preparing yourself to successfully handle any obstacles that life may throw. Below are five tips that will help you start your meditation practice.
1. Choose your meditation space
One of the most important aspects of starting your meditation practice is choosing where you will meditate. Try to find a quiet and peaceful space that you feel safe in. Eliminate distractions in your meditation space, for instance, background noise like voices on the television. Find a place that you can be comfortable in. This could be a yoga mat on the floor or a comfy chair. No matter what space you choose, make sure it is an area you can focus on.
2. Use an app
When you are first beginning it can be tough to know what to do. The best way to figure out how to meditate is to use an app.
There are several apps for both Apple and Android phones that guide you through meditations. These apps offer many different types of meditations depending on what you are looking for. I highly recommend downloading one to help you begin your meditation practice.
3. Create a routine
Another important part of meditation is creating a consistent routine. To help you achieve this, try setting aside a specific time during the day to meditate.
Meditate at that same time every day. By doing this, you are giving yourself a routine and forming a meditation habit. Setting aside a specific time will encourage you to meditate daily. Whatever time you choose, make sure it will consistently work with your schedule. It will do no good if you choose a time that will only work for a week.
To meditate consistently, I find the best time is either right after you wake up or right before you go to bed. For most of us, we wake up and fall asleep at about the same time each day. If you choose to meditate during one of these times, it is more likely you will meditate at the same time each day.
There are different types of meditation for different types of goals. Not all meditations might work for you, so it is important to experiment and try different practices.
For example, perhaps you want to concentrate on a task. You may want to practice focusing on your breathing and labeling things that distract you from your breathing. Each practice can aid you in distinct areas of your life.
As with any new hobby, the more you practice, the better you will get. Meditation takes time, and as you continue to exercise your mind in this way, the easier it will become.
There may be days where you cannot focus at all, or you feel anxious even after a meditation. This is normal. Meditation is not a cure, but with time and practice, you will feel more focused and relaxed.
Don’t let a bad day ruin your meditation practice. It is important that you show up and meditate, even if it feels as though you are going through the motions.
Within a few months of practicing meditation, you will see improvement in your mood and your awareness.