I openly share with friends how useful meditation has been, and most respond that they would like to try meditation too. I wrote this post with these people in mind.
I’m still new to meditation. Only recently did I overcome the awkward feelings that crept into my brain when I sat down to try to find a little stillness, as every train of thought tried to convince me it was a waste of time and things needed doing.
This usually persists for a while, because it’s not easy to control your thoughts and let things go for more than a moment. But, the science shows, it’s worth it, and I would say so too.
Since making meditation a daily practice, I’ve experienced better sleep, more creativity and focus in my work, less stress and mood swings, and an overall improved life outlook. It’s been great.
I am by no means an expert, but here are a few tips and resources I always share with friends who want to try a meditation practice:
1) Use available resources, aka experts. There are people who have done this for a very long time, and have put free tools out in the world for anyone to access. Meditation can be really difficult for some, so take advantage of expert support and advice. My personal favorites are:
- BexLife – Guided meditations, tips and worksheets for anxiety, stress, depression.
- Tara Brach – Guided meditations focused on the heart and awareness.
- Free sites/apps/podcasts – A list of 12 of the “best” free guided meditation sites/apps.
2) Start with guided mediations. See all the links above. Guided mediations have vivid visualizations or inspiring mantras. This helped me so much with just sticking with it. Knowing that I wasn’t about to sit down with all my thoughts, but instead be guided through a calming mantra or visual made it much easier to relax. Focusing on what the person was describing really helps to easily push away random thoughts that float into my head. I save my favorite meditations for future use, here’s my meditation playlist.
3) Set a small, attainable goal for your first month of meditation. Perhaps, 1-3x per week for 5 minutes. Before you begin, accept that meditation is a practice and it’s important to just be consistent. It’s a whole new activity for the brain and body, it might be hard at first, but in time it will feel easy and enjoyable.
4) Inspire yourself with a reading. Before a midday practice, like during a lunch break or something, I’ll get in the mood by reading an inspiring book for a few minutes. I like to see what passage sparks my interest and then meditate on the thoughts that come from the passage. It’s always an interesting mini journey into myself. I really like to use The Alchemist, the Four Agreements, or Warrior of the Light. (These are just books I currently have available to me.)
5) “Just listen.” This was a meditation tip I got back in college from a friend that stuck with me. It’s also how I originally started meditation. He told me to just find a seat and listen to the world around me. The time didn’t matter, thoughts weren’t important, but if I focused on trying to hear and distinguish the sounds, I would find a little pocket of peace. I use this tip today when I want a short practice in between work. Maybe it will resonate with you too.
Hopefully these tips were helpful and/or motivating to try a little meditation session for yourself. If you have resources and tools you love, please share! I’m always looking to develop my practice more and share with others.