The purpose of meditation is to bring about focus. The intent is not to bring your thoughts to a complete halt, but rather it is a way of taking better care of the mind. Through meditation you will learn to observe your thoughts in a different manner; viewing them as something separate from yourself, and being in control as to how you respond to them.
The practice of meditation is the process of permitting yourself time for mindfulness. Consider for a moment the various events that you encounter on a daily basis of which you have no control over. Oftentimes, it is the feelings of lack of control over circumstances that sometimes bring on insurmountable stress. For instance, what if in a single day you found yourself dealing with a car cutting you off on the way to work and upon arriving to work, your demanding boss assigned you with a ridiculous deadline; likely you would find yourself gritting your teeth or clinching your fists as a result of the stress that was building up. The fact of the matter is, we have no control over the actions of others, but we do have a way to alleviate the stress and anxiety that they cause us, through the use of meditation.
By incorporating meditation into your daily routine, it will bring about peacefulness and you will become adept at handling stressful events much better. Imagine when you are able to observe and listen to others from a different perspective and not allow it to stress you out so much.
Meditation is not only about dealing with stress. It is also useful in learning to gain focus and improve concentration skills. It allows us time to take care of our minds just as we do our bodies. It enables us to experience a feeling of centeredness and complete peacefulness.
How to Start a Daily Meditation Practice
Starting meditation is not difficult. As with anything in life it is a matter of beginning. If you have ever trained for a marathon, you had to commit to training and work up to the point of having the stamina required. As children, we don’t enter kindergarten and move straight to high school. There is a process involved in everything we do. The process of achieving any goal consists of finding a starting point and moving forward until we begin seeing progress and reach the goal we set for ourselves. Meditation is no different. As with anything it requires making a commitment and pressing through with tenacity.
#1 Dedicate Time
When incorporating any new activity into your regular routine, it is necessary to plan for it. After all, you don’t prepare your body for a marathon by having a nonchalant attitude that you will get around to it. When first starting out, setting aside time early in the morning would be ideal, to help ensure that it doesn’t get pushed aside. However, any time of the day will work for meditation and the important thing is to find a time that works for you and stick to it.
#2 Start Small
When you are just starting out with meditation, begin with short sessions between 2 and 5 minutes. As you become more comfortable with the process of meditation you should work your way up to twenty minutes or so. However, trying to begin with that amount of time will likely lead to frustration. Start small and increase your time by 2 to 5 minutes as it suits you.
#3 Get Comfortable
A meditation session is going to be much more successful if you are comfortable. Wear comfortable clothing and sit in an upright position that you can feel relaxed in. It is not necessary to have a meditation bench or cushion, or even to sit cross-legged, but you should be comfortable. Otherwise, you will place your attention on the discontentment of your body rather than the mindfulness of the meditation itself.
In addition to being comfortable, it is ideal to be in a quiet location to allow your mind to relax and focus. Noises and movement around you will cause interruption and result in your mind wandering.
#4 Define Your Focus
Using your breath as your main focus will help you concentrate during the meditation session. Breathe in and out slowly, and if your mind wanders, which most likely it will, refocus your attention on your breath. By focusing on your breath, you are selecting something that is neutral while also training yourself to be mindful of one certain thought. As you become comfortable with this process, you will eventually be able to set an intention of other details to meditate on, such as reducing stress or improving concentration.
#5 Choose a Mantra
Most likely you associate meditation with a sound such as “ohm” and there is a good reason for it. When you use a simple phrase or single word during your meditation session, it will help you maintain your focus. Repeat it each time you breathe in and you will begin to get into a rhythm.
#6 Be Easy On Yourself
If you encounter days where your mind is just too busy to focus, remember to be patient with yourself. You may experience your thoughts being all over the place and find that the harder you try to push aside the random thoughts the more they grab your attention; your mind will wander; just re-focus on your mantra or your breath, as an anchor. Many people experience this, which is why you should start out with very short sessions.
#7 Manage Your Expectations
Daily meditation should be viewed as a skill that you want to work on improving regularly. As you become accustomed to using it, you will begin to see the multiple benefits of meditation. It is not a quick-fix solution, so you need to be patient and realistic with your expectations. Eventually you will get into a pattern that works perfectly for you. There is no right or wrong way of doing meditation, but it does require commitment.
During the process of meditation, you will learn more about yourself personally; realizing your apprehensions and fears and no longer allowing negativity to effect you in the same way. The purpose of meditation is to quiet your mind, calm your body and learn to become observant of your thoughts rather than allowing them to control or hinder you. It trains your mind so distractions do not prevent you from achieving goals and you gain a sense of clarity as well as a confident self-acceptance.
Commit to incorporating a meditation routine into your daily regimen. It provides many benefits for the body, mind and soul and you will appreciate the positive impact it makes in your life.