Practicing Presence: Meditation for Beginners (and tips for meditation lovers!)
Meditation is the practice of presence. It does not always have to be sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed, but it can be pretty rewarding to get still, look within and create an environment for yourself that does not absorb into a distracting outside environment:
Here are my 10 tips to get started on a meditative practice and to get THE MOST out of it:
1) Use a timer: While it may seem counter-intuitive and even produce anxiety to feel like you want to get your meditation clocking in under a certain amount of minutes, it actually is helpful because then you can be efficient, manage your time, and figure out for yourself later on whether you need just 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or a deep meditation for 45 minutes. I, personally, have found that at least 10 minutes produces the best results (especially for days when you have difficulty really relaxing and getting into stillness).
2) In the shower: This is especially useful for those times when you've got a pretty busy day: Try taking an extra 3-5 minutes in the shower with eyes closed to enjoy the warmth and then work your way up to 3 minutes of colder water with the visualization of anything negative rinsing off your body. Bonus: It'll wake you up so you can be more energized for the day! :)
3) Find an accountability partner: Usually we think of meditation as a one-person, alone time thing, but it can be fun to have someone to meditate with or even to talk to through social media and say, "Hey, how was your meditation today? :)" This way, it's double the fun!
4) Try a guided meditation, video, or app: Awaken.Yoga is a nice online platform I use daily for guided meditations, yoga, stretches from my phone and computer because it provides variety based on my mood and needs and from more than one teacher. YouTube also has meditations and practices of all sorts--have fun finding out what works for you! :)
5) Create your own meditation based on visualization, length, and whether to include words or not. When I first started meditating years ago, I would start to visualize the top of a mountain or a beach sunset. Now, I visualize things like a rainbow of colors streaming over myself or a flower blooming because those are things I enjoy and enjoy teaching children. You can visualize things such as outer space, a park you enjoy, a long drive along the coast or even yourself sitting indoors enjoying a nice cup of coffee. Make it easy and know that whatever comes to mind for you is totally cool :)
6) Make a sacred space indoors: Alongside all of the bills, toys, and possessions, it is important to have a place inside of your home that just feels like HOME: comforting, fulfilling, and peaceful. It can be the corner of a room, a separate room altogether or that comfy recliner. I like sitting on the floor both with or without a cushion/blanket, on my yoga mat and like to decorate my space with art and generally things that make me feel happy--like a nice candle or memento. Again, do what works for you.
7) Pick a time of day that YOU like: Most people pick the morning to meditate to start out their day on a great note before getting into the energy of work. Others love to do it after a long day, before bed for restful sleep or in the middle of the day to take a deep breath. Try different times out, do it multiple times a day, and see how much of a difference it makes!
8) Written meditation: Journaling is a great way to stay present with your thoughts and have some time of quiet reflection - for more on journaling, see this blog post.
9) Singing meditation: For days when you have more energy or simply want to accompany your amazing sitting meditation practice, sing out and sing loud! Singing is a great way to exercise your vocal chords, raise your vibration, elevate your mood and empower yourself. For those who want a quieter version, feel free to sing or chant whatever comes to mind--even try it with a friend or two!
10) Dancing meditation: Dancing is an art that is both free and freeing. Just as we move the body with yoga, there is an art to dancing and it takes both presence and focus. I, myself, have solo dance parties just to elevate my mood and celebrate life (and to give my voice a break). Whether you are a classically-trained dancer or someone who claps their heart out, don't forget to have fun with life!
BONUS TIP: To stay present in the body, put one hand on the heart and the other on your belly to stay aware of your breath and inhales and exhales
Remember: with anything new, PRACTICE builds confidence and empowerment--make it your own!
~If these were helpful to you or if you have any questions, feel free to comment below or contact me :)