Many people tell me that the most difficult thing with meditation, is getting started. Meditation doesn’t mean that you must sit in lotus pose and practice perfectly for hours on end. It’s quite the opposite, in fact, many feel they just won't be able to make the time for meditation.
The truth is, no matter how busy you are or how much experience with meditation you have, it can actually be quite simple to start meditating on a regular basis and integrate it into your everyday routine. This blog will help you to explore different options for meditation and enable you to get started.
How much time will I need? When should I do it?
If you're just starting out with meditation, I recommend that you allow yourself 10 minutes every day for meditation. If possible, set aside the same time every day in your routine. This makes it more likely that you will keep practicing every day. It also makes this time a special to you - you are committing this moment, each day, for you. Try to set this time aside in the morning before you go about your day.
The best way to make this a routine is to wake up 10 minutes earlier and sit in your bedroom at a chair. Take this space just for you at the start of the day. Think of it as though you are setting an intention; before you give yourself to others today, you are going to take great care of yourself.
And perhaps if you are very, very busy (maybe you’re a parent where you have many people in your life that depend upon you for most of your day) you may feel that even 10 minutes per day is going to be a stretch. Well, it might be at the beginning, but once this becomes a part of your routine, it will be as fundamentally important to your well-being as having breakfast before you head off to tackle the day. By taking this moment for yourself, you are going to be able to give everybody in your life the very best of you and as a result you will feel better for it too.
What do I do with this 10 minutes?
There are two ways I recommend that you start with meditation. It's up to you to decide which one you choose. I would suggest starting with a guided meditation app such as headspace or calm. These apps provide a guided experience with meditation teaching the basic principles and techniques and guiding you each step of the way.
If apps aren't for you, then I recommend doing something called a body scan. A body scan is the practice of checking in with every physical and emotional part of you.
To do this, be seated comfortably in a chair with both feet on the ground and your hands resting naturally either on your thighs or with your left hand sitting comfortably on top of your right hand, facing upwards. Ensure that your posture is good, but you're sitting tall. Begin to breathe slowly in and out through the nose, only. If you have difficulty in breathing in and out through the nose, then you can do this practice by breathing through your mouth. Slowly close your eyes.
For the body scan, we start at the crown of the head and over 10 minutes or so, we slowly scan every part of the body all the way down to the toes. As you do this, you will find parts of the body that feel uncomfortable. You will also find emotional discomfort in some areas. This is normal and is exactly what the body scan seeks to discover. When you find a part of the body that feels this way, stay there and focus on it as you breathe. If you find an emotional pain or feeling within the body where you notice an emotional reaction, do the same - just continue to breathe into this area, until you feel this pain or emotion subside.
To come out of the meditation, move your fingers and toes gently. Slowly open the eyes and thank yourself for taking this time for you, today. Take a moment to reflect on your meditation. Perhaps set an intention for your day, slowly stand and that's a meditation completed.
What other things might I experience in meditation?
Lots of things happen when we meditate. A very common experience when beginning with meditation is to fall asleep! if this happens to you, don't worry, it’s completely normal. As you practice more, you will find that this happens much less often.
Sometimes we feel a rush of emotion. If this happens to you, just breathe slowly through it. Listen to what this emotion is trying to tell you. It will pass. Don't be tempted to break your practice - just keep breathing slowly focus on the specific area of the body where you feel this. When you feel this emotion, this is the meditation allowing you to process and cleanse.
Another common experience when meditating is a rush of thoughts. A common misconception with meditation is that a rush of thoughts means that you are not doing it properly. This is simply not true. In fact it's quite the opposite. If you do have a rush of thoughts (we call this monkey brain), then it means that you have successfully began the practice of meditation. Try to let these thoughts go. As you breathe out each time, just let the thoughts drift away. Sometimes you won't be able to stop this rush. That's okay too. There are no two meditations that are the same, ever. Continue your practice as normal and accept that this is what you needed today.
How will I feel?
After just a few days you will start to feel the difference that meditation has brought to your life. Even just practising for 10 minutes can make a huge difference to how you feel throughout the day. You may feel that you are able to concentrate better, feel more resilient, stronger, and if there are things in your life that are particularly challenging you at this moment, you might find these challenges start to feel a little easier to deal with.
10 minutes may seem a very short space of time. but if you stick to this routine each day, you will quickly start to feel the difference. Similarly to yoga, if you pause your practice for a few days, you will notice the difference. The key to benefiting from meditation is to make it a habit.
If you are interested in learning meditation in a small group, you can join Haelan Therapy’s brand-new Introduction to Meditation five-week course that starts on the 21st of January 2018. There are still a few spaces left. Click here to find out more about the course or to book your place.
About the author
Hi, I'm Philip and I teach meditation at Haelan Therapy. I came to meditation through my own journey with life’s stresses and strains. As I practiced more, I felt the stress leave me. My focus, balance and harmony was restoring and I felt better every day. This is when meditation became a regular practice for me.
Since then I have deepened my practice in various parts of the world, including San Francisco, Thailand and Vietnam. It was in Vietnam, after three weeks of one-to-one meditation practice for three hours per day, that I realised I wanted to share meditation through teaching others. I have been teaching ever since and I am delighted to be a part of the Haelan team and to share the learning and practice of meditation with others. Throughout November and December 2017 I am teaching meditation in Southeast Asia. In January I return home to Hitchin to begin teaching Haelan Therapy's brand-new Introduction to Meditation five-week course that starts on 21st January 2018. I look forward to welcoming you.