Last week I wrote about my experience with meditation. This week I have some recommendations for how to get into meditation. Remember, your mileage may vary, but here is what works for me.
1. If you’re in a city, it’s likely there are classes you can take to learn the basics of meditation. At its core, meditation is about focusing on something (usually your breath). Then, you use that focus as a stable foundation to try and stay in the moment despite the fact that your mind will wander. Finding a teacher who can get you up and running can be quite helpful.
2. Pick up some books on meditation to expand your understanding. As I mentioned in last week's post, Jon Kabat-Zinn is one of the people who help get mindfulness to the level it’s known today in America. Any of his works are quite helpful. There are many other authors out there who are well-respected leaders in mindfulness and meditation, though. Find one whose writings jibe with you.
3. Get a meditation app. There are plenty of them out there. I use one called Insight because it has many free options. Some apps include specialty meditations to help with anxiety or depression. They also include meditations to help you sleep. Most are guided, which means a teacher speaks and tells you how to breathe and what to think about while you sit there. It’s not a controlling thing, but instead gentle guidance.
4. Practice, practice, practice. The more time you put into meditating, the more results you’ll see. For me, as I meditate daily I find I remind myself to turn to my breath in moments of stress more often. It helps relieve my anxiety and calms me. Do I remember to do this all the time? No. Are all my meditation sessions enlightening, ethereal moments where I reach another consciousness? Hardly. Sometimes my mind wanders about for 15 minutes and I rarely focus on my breath or calming my mind. But I know that’s not how it is every time and that the time I’m putting in is helpful.
Have you spent any time meditating? If so, how was it? Did you find it helpful? Feel free to respond in the comments—I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.
I’ve been meditating for over 15 years. When I was a Christian back in high school and college I thought meditation was a weird thing. I presumed only people who believed in crystals and the New Age movement meditated. As I left my faith and began to explore self-help, I realized there is much more to meditation than finding a connection with some higher power.
Through work with cognitive behavioral therapy, I came across the works of Jon Kabat-Zinn. I purchased his book Wherever You Go, There You Are. This work taught me the foundation of mindfulness. I learned the importance of breathing and how to deal with anxiety in that fashion.
From that point on, I did a lot of my own research, digging into the works of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, and others in Buddhist thought. While I don’t consider myself a Buddhist, I find a lot of meaning in their philosophy and views of the world. As I’ve written before, I identify with the five remembrances of the Buddha and think about them daily.
I also found doing yoga for many years taught me to control my breath. I learned that my breath was something I could return to at any time or place and find some grounding in my life. I don’t want to make this sound super easy or casual—it can be difficult at times. And it takes a great deal of practice to get to the point where I can remind myself without too much trouble to breathe and find a focus that way.
Nowadays I try and commit somewhere from 10 to 25 minutes each day meditating. I attempt to do so in the morning but sometimes I’ll do it at night right before I go to bed. Depending on the time of day, meditating can either get me ready for the day to come or calm down so I can sleep.
In my blog post next week I’ll give some tips on how to get into meditation if it’s a new thing for you.
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This blog is an exploration of the subjects of belonging and loneliness. I also look at mental health issues. I seek to provide content to my readers that is informative and helpful. If you don't want to miss anything, sign up for my email list.