Okay, you know meditation helps you de-stress, find peace of mind, feel happier, and find more balance in your health. But it’s hard! We’re not really conditioned to sit still, nor is your mind interested in emptying itself of the ten thousand thoughts it’s pondering. And where do you find the time?
The good news is that almost everyone who meditates deals with these same challenges, and you can enjoy the benefits of meditation without having to be a master of it. Here are some great tips and ideas to help you get the most out of your meditation practice:
- Relax – Really. Getting frustrated about the fact that your mind will not be quiet doesn’t help. It’s alright that thoughts keep coming through, just practice letting them go and not following them down paths of planning and daydreaming. Bring a laid back attitude to your meditation practice, and you’ll make it a whole lot easier on yourself.
- Start Small – You don’t have to sit for long periods of time for meditation to work. In fact, forcing yourself won’t help if it leaves you frustrated. Try 5 or 10 minutes, then move to 15. Get comfortable with that, and then you’ll naturally extend the time if it’s right for you. Even just a few deep breaths can make an amazing difference in how you feel.
- Breathe – Yes, your breath knows how to meditate more naturally than your mind. Rather than focusing on the passing thoughts, concentrate on your breath. What does it feel like as it moves through you? Can you notice the transition points between your inhale and exhale? Turning to your breath during meditation gives you a masterful guide that is ever present.
- Use a Mantra – Repeating a word or phrase gives the easily distracted child of your mind something to hold onto. It also helps you to create a pattern in yourself, deep in your psyche and beyond the conscious mind. You can chant out loud or whisper within your heart. Try an ancient and well loved mantra like ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ (I honor the goodness within) or, if you’re not feeling the call to use Sanskrit, try an affirmation instead.
- Visualize – One approach to meditation is to use visualization to create a different state of being. There are infinite ways to do this, but one you may like to start with is to envision a light deep within your heart growing with each breath until your skin glows and you are fully illuminated. Then you can sit and breathe within that light until you feel so sparkly that people will comment on how bright your eyes are when you come out of meditation.
- Learn How To Sit – Being comfortable in your body is super important when you meditate, but slouching isn’t going to help you feel enlightened either. Sit in a chair, on a pillow or blanket, or right on the floor – however you need to support yourself is fine, so long as you find a way to have the natural curves of your spine and a lengthened spine. That means the lower back tips slightly forward, while the tailbone lengthens down which calls the lower abs into action to support your pelvis. Also, with a long spine, let your shoulders come sweetly back and open your throat. By having optimal alignment, you will feel the delight of meditation more easily.
- Get Peaceful – Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Peace is one of the deepest desires of all beings. By consciously setting the intention of your meditation to enter into a place of profound peace, you can access it more fully. The Sanskrit word that embodies peace is Shanti. Repeating this word out loud is an excellent way to feel the vibrations of peace, or use it in your head. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
- Try Group Meditation – When you meditate with a group, the effects tend to be powerfully amplified. There are many resources for group meditation, which you can do via online calls (these work surprisingly well), at a center in your area, or simply by meditating at the same time as others. You may want to get some friends together, set a common intention, and start a group meditation on a regular basis.
- Take a Class – Though meditation truly is discovered through its practice, having a teacher explain subtleties and give you different views on it can be super helpful. Local yoga studios are a great place to start a search for a teacher, or you could get together with a teacher you already trust and resonate with for private sessions.
- Get a Guide – Guided meditations can often lead you into a meditative state faster than you would find it yourself. Some have music, some are simply a soothing voice, some combine both. Ideally, finding a teacher that speaks to your heart and using their guided meditations is best because you already have a connection with them.
I’ve had amazing reviews on my recently released Meditation Guide: Mini-Meditations Art and Audio Set. Check it out by clicking on the link above.
One person sent me this response after getting her copy of the guide:
“I am over the top with delight! There is no one in the world that would not benefit from, or enjoy your work! You make it so flexible and that is even more magical. Katrina, you are truly a magnificent, creative, inspirational gift from the Universe!” CLB