The actual practice of meditation isn’t necessarily easy, but getting started can be. What this means is that if you’re interested in making meditation a part of your day - and meditation can improve your quality of life and well-being, so it might not be a bad idea - there are plenty of ways to dip your toes into the practice. Here are just a few ways to get started.
Focus on your breath
Close your eyes, breathe, focus on your breath, and when your mind starts to wander (which it likely will), try to return to that focus on your breath. Getting started with meditation can really be as easy as breathing deeply, and breathing deeply, and breathing deeply again.
Set a timer
This is a great strategy for people who are intimidated by getting started or who are having trouble finding the time. Set a timer on your phone (and make sure it will end with something like a soft chime versus that cringe-inducing stereotypical alarm sound), and focus on just trying to do the thing for that set length of time— five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes, whatever works for you. Chances are even if you find the first few minutes uncomfortable, you’ll be able to work through that discomfort and then ease into the rest of your time.
Find your happy place
For many people, even the idea of just focusing on breath can be intimidating, with thoughts of bills to pay or dinner to make flooding what they imagine should be an otherwise serene headspace. Sometimes what is meant to be peaceful can feel stressful, but one meditation you can do that’s really pretty positive? Imagining your happy place. Thinking of a place that makes you feel calm and happy (either a real or imagined place) in great detail - including what it looks like, sounds like, smells like, feels like - and breathing as you do so can help to bring you calm and focus.
Connect it to movement
Maybe the idea of sitting still makes your skin crawl. If that feels really tough for you, maybe you’d rather do some sort of a moving meditation, such as breathing deeply as you do yoga, running as you repeat a mantra, or pushing your kiddo in a stroller while you listen to a guided meditation.
Focus on your body
Doing what is called a body scan can be a wonderful way to feel more calm by the end of just a single session. This style of meditation involves sitting or lying somewhere quiet and scanning your body for stress and tension. You can go body part by body part, moving head to toe, taking note of where you seem to be holding tension, and then focusing on trying to release it before moving to the next body part. Some people will even try to tense and then release each part as they scan. Breathe as you go - maybe even try to breathe out the tension - and by the end, you may be surprised how much tension you’ve released.
Get some guidance
If you feel like you want a bit more guidance to get started, it could be really meaningful to take a class and let an expert talk you through a meditation session. If you want to do this from the comfort of your home, you can even find guided meditations on a number of apps or YouTube. It may take you a few tries to find something that feels like the right fit, but when you do, you’ll have someone to guide you through the practice. You don’t have to go it alone.
Find a time and build a ritual
Especially helpful for folks who are feeling much too busy, this can help connect a meditation practice to other normal parts of your day - like finding a moment for meditation when in the shower or while brushing your teeth, while riding the train or while sitting in your car before stepping into work, while on your lunch break or in bed at the end of the day. Building the practice into your other routines and rituals can make meditation just a regular part of your life.
Alice Boyes.“5 Meditation Tips for Beginners.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, March 18 2013. Retrieved February 5 2019. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201303/5-meditation-tips-beginners.
“Meditation: In Depth.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, January 02 2019. Retrieved February 5 2019. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm.
Lea Waters. “The Relationship between Child Stress, Child Mindfulness and Parent Mindfulness.” Psychology. 7(1): 40-51. January 2016. Retrieved February 5 2019. https://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=62741
“Meditation for beginners.” Headspace. Headspace Inc. Retrieved February 5 2019. https://www.headspace.com/meditation/