A Beginners guide to meditation
Do you feel ready to tap into the benefits of a regular practice?
If you practice yoga, it doesn’t necessarily mean you meditate and inversely, if you meditate it doesn’t mean you practice yoga. However quite possibly the practice of yoga will bring you to your meditation with these two practices supporting each other on so many levels. Through the practice of yoga, we learn to concentrate and relax which are two of the main fundamental conditions for a meditation practice. And before you glaze over or overthink it, it’s much easier than you think. This blog will deepen your understanding of what it is and how you can practice on your own.
You can practice meditation to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings or as a way of reducing stress and developing concentration.
Many use it for a positive mood enhancer and outlook on life, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns, and even increased pain tolerance
What is mediation?
Meditate comes from the Latin word ‘meditat’ and means to contemplate, to reflect or engage in thought. Med, the root of the word means ‘to take appropriate measure’. We already do that when we are thinking about how to move to a new career in a new country or contemplating our children’s education and future. Within yogic terms, meditation or dhyana is described as a state of pure consciousness. Our mind’s job is to think thoughts, imagine things, accumulate experiences, and impressions and create a circle of thoughts out of it. Pure consciousness is when you simply observe these thoughts and take your attention inwards. Meditation is the habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts
In the 8 limbs of yoga, four of them are external disciplines through yama (ethics), niyamas (self discipline), asana (postures) and pranayama (breath). The fifth is prayahara and relates to the withdrawal of the senses. Through our (external) practice we become grounded mentally and physically and are acutely aware of our senses yet disengaged at the same time, that’s what we are trying to achieve in our meditation. To be aware of our thoughts and yet detach and observe these thoughts.
To meditate, you need to be able to concentrate even though meditation is more than just concentration. When we concentrate, we direct our mind to an object apart from ourselves and ultimately it evolves to an expanded state of awareness and self-realisation.
Where do I start?
So here are a few tips to help you get started. I encourage you to start with as little as just 5 minutes a day and build it up from there – that is what worked for me.
Set aside some time, possibly in the morning although it can be anytime to establish a consistent routine in a place that is quiet, pleasant and that you won’t be disturbed. Remember there is no right or wrong. In my early practice of meditation, I’d set my phone for 5 minutes and sit cross legged or upright and imagine a candle flame and observe the thoughts that ran through my mind. If I got distracted with a particular thought I would return to the visualisation of the candle’s flame.
Remember it’s not important how long you meditate that matters—it’s the practice of the meditation that’s most important.
Decide on a point of focus. If sound appeals to you, create a mantra which you can repeat silently. It can be a word or phrase that is calming to you, such as “peace,” “love,” or “joy.” Even an affirmation like “I am love” or “I am calm” as you breathe in and out. You can even visualize your favourite place in nature and just observe the breath by counting in for three to seven counts. Just simply noticing the natural rhythm and movement of your torso and observing your thoughts.
Whichever posture and method you choose, stick with it for the duration of your meditation. And when you find what works for you, be consistent and practice every day.
Don’t be surprised or deterred by how frequently your thoughts wander, it’s perfectly normal. Once you notice that your mind is distracted, simply return it to your chosen point of focus.
Everything takes time. Bees must move very fast to stay still.
Let me know how you get on.
Peace and love always, Bernie