Meditation has become a widely known word, idea and practice. Although people know the idea of meditation, most do not truly know what practicing meditation is like. A common misconception is meditation is sitting with a blank mind, not thinking.
If you attempt to practice this way, you’ll only get frustrated with yourself. You’ll find yourself thinking and you’ll convince yourself you can’t meditate.
Most people who believe they are meditating are merely thinking with their eyes closed. – Sam Harris
Rather than not thinking, meditation is being completely aware of what you’re thinking. There are different ways to practice meditation, but you’re sure to find your mind wandering no matter what. That is completely normal.
Don’t get frustrated because you find yourself thinking about your dinner or your next project. Instead just notice your thoughts as they come.
Over time and with practice, you’ll understand how powerful it is to notice when your mind wanders. Becoming aware of the nature of our wandering-minds will teach you more about yourself than you could ever imagine.
“A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.” -Sam Harris
Meditation is a tool that we can utilize to overcome the tendencies of our wandering mind. Instead of losing yourself in a pattern of negative thinking, you can notice this and change your thoughts.
How Do I Start Meditating?
Practicing meditation is simple. You just need to have a little direction to know what you’re doing. It’s important to know that your attention span is short by nature, to no fault of your own. We live in an age where our attention is constantly fought over by social media, TV, friends, family, pets, or anything else you can think of.
Although the practice of meditation is simple, that doesn’t mean you’ll be “good” at it right away. It takes years to build your attention and concentration.
However, it’s important and powerful to practice even for 10 minutes a day.
To begin, get in a comfortable position. You can sit in a chair, on the floor against the bed, or you can even lie down if you wish. Wherever you sit, make sure you’re comfortable and won’t get distracted by back pain, knee pain or anything else.
Close your eyes. Take three deep, slow breaths in and out your nose.
Begin to find a natural breathing pattern that you can follow.
Feel the sensations caused by breathing. Feel the air coming into your nostrils, your chest and stomach expand, rise and fall.
Now begin to pay attention to the sensation you feel the most.
Keep your focus on that single sensation.
Whenever you notice your mind start to wander, realize the thought came naturally in your mind. Then let it go.
Come back to the sensations of breathing.
Anytime your mind begins to wander, notice how you aren’t controlling your thoughts.
Your mind just naturally wanders.
Continue this focus on the breath and sensations.
Become aware of other sensations in the body. Maybe your neck is tense or your feet are cold.
Any sensations in the body can become a focal point for our attention.
Notice these sensations, how they come into your mind, and leave just the same.
Now begin to hear any outside noises. There could be cars driving by, birds making noise, or even a washing machine running.
Anything you can hear, notice it.
Observe how these noises come into consciousness, only to vanish in an instant.
The noise only exists for as long as it is heard.
Just as these noises and sensations are instantaneous stimuli, so are your thoughts.
You can witness a thought come into your mind and let it go all the same.
Do not dwell on your thoughts.
Do not let emotions arise from your thoughts.
Observe the thought, let it go, and refocus your attention on the sensations you feel.
This is meditation. This is the practice of becoming aware of our minds and our thoughts. Practicing in this manner can give us more control over our minds and emotions.
It’s important to note that this example of meditation above is just one type of meditation. This style may not be for everyone. If it doesn’t seem to resonate with you, we suggest checking out other forms of meditation. There are many types and we’re sure you’ll find one that you get pleasure and meaning from!
We’ve all had times where we get stuck in a negative mood. We think negative thoughts over and over again.
By becoming used to observing our thoughts in meditation, we can do also so in our daily lives. We can notice when thoughts arise that are damaging. These thoughts affect our mood and behaviour. From meditation practice we learn and become aware that thoughts like these arise without any intention of our own. Rather than let thoughts affect us, we can let them go.
We have no control over our thoughts. We can control our reaction to our thoughts. We can let them go so we move on to something else.
Meditation is the tool we all need.
As a beginner, it may be difficult to meditate alone. This is not to say it can’t be done because that’s untrue. However, using an app to assist in meditation can be extremely useful. Apps can provide direction and guidance in the process that you don’t get by practicing alone. Additionally, having someone guide you can help act as a reminder to what you’re doing.
Some common apps to begin meditating are Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer, Waking Up.
Waking Up App gives you a 50-day course that teaches you how to meditate. Insight Timer has a great 7 days course, which focuses on the basics. These courses are highly beneficial for anyone, not just beginners.
Andrew is an avid writer, traveler and a yoga enthusiast. He is constantly looking to improve his skills and practical knowledge. As an extreme optimist, he is dedicated to improving the lives of others around him through creation, conversation, and education.