Starting a Meditation Practice (How-to)

You may have heard it before – meditation is easy. Everyone seems to be turning to it via classes, an app, do it yourself. And while meditation is certainly moving into mainstream discussions, some corporations even offer meditation spaces to employees, it may not always come easily to everyone. 

I have been meditating for decades. But it took me several attempts, with stops and starts, over a considerable amount of time before meditation became a practice and an integral part of my daily routine. Firstly, it is important to be gentle with yourself as you begin. And secondly, meditation is a practice that deepens with time. 

If you have decided to start meditation or want to come back to meditation after being away for some time, start small. Even if you feel you may not be “doing it right” or that it is not working, one of the key essentials to meditation is to stick with it. Decide and commit to the amount of time you want to spend – even 5 or 10 minutes will begin to make a difference with time.

Find a comfortable sitting space. This does not necessarily have to be a mat on the floor, but if that is what you are comfortable with, by all means use it. Otherwise use a chair or cushion. Find a time that will work for you. This could be rising 10 minutes earlier in the morning. As a morning person, this worked for me very well when I began my meditation practice. The house was quiet. Everyone was still asleep and the family dog
loved to be nearby while I meditated. Finding these moments alone can prove to be your most important ones of the day. 

If mornings don’t work for you, think about time before lunch, even in your office or cubicle, where you can sit quietly and close your eyes. Later in the afternoon, called the “happy hour”, from 4-6 p.m. is another option. Again, whether in your office setting or at home, find a quiet place. The mindful meditation that I teach is best done early morning, before lunch, or later in the afternoon. you can sit without any disturbance.

The mindful meditation that I teach is best done early morning, before lunch, or later in the afternoon. It is best not to meditate on a full stomach. As this particular meditation energizes you, practice it at least three hours before going to sleep.

Meditation invites you to go inwards. Thoughts are natural and it is the mind’s job to think and plan. You will not stop your thoughts, so don’t try. What happens with time and practice is that your mind settles and your central nervous system calms. Use your breath as the focus of your attention. Whenever thoughts come up,
come back to the focus of your attention with your breath. You may want to count: 1 for your in breath and 1 for your out breath. Continue counting in this way up to 10. If you lose count, begin again from 1. Counting can help your focus.

Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. Don’t try too hard. It’s is natural. Your breath will always bring you back to the present moment. The breath does not know the past or future and by focusing on the breath, you very naturally remain in the present.

Mindfulness is this present moment awareness and returning to the focus of your attention when thoughts distract you. Mindfulness is its own practice of living mindfully in an informal way throughout the day and with meditation in a formal, seated practice.

Beginning meditators may have high expectations that meditation will work wonders. It does indeed work wonders. But meditation works it magic over time, by allowing you to go inward, and be in touch with yourself. Each time you sit for meditation is a new experience. Come to your meditation with no expectation, as the Zen tradition explains it, with a beginner’s mind. Each meditation will be different with some deeper and some more restless. Your body releases stress during meditation and a restless meditation is often good. Even
seasoned meditators, such as myself, have different experiences each day and quite often my thoughts are very active, depending on what is going on in the moment.

Think about spending 5 to 10 minutes a day with meditation. Even this short amount of time, on a regular basis, can begin to make some shifts. Time you will begin to feel more anchored in the present; living in the

article by Donna Isaac
Founder, Mindful By Design


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