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UNLOCKING THE MAGIC OF MEDITATION

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Now that you understand the power behind meditation, let’s dive into just how you can begin to incorporate it into your daily routine! While I’m not saying it’s easy, you can start small and get better and better as you practice. Don’t expect to be good at first — that’s why it’s called “practice”!

These tips aren’t aimed at turning you into a meditation master overnight…they should help you get started with then provide the encouragement to keep going. You also don’t need to implement all of these tips at the same time; you can try a few, then for the next session, come back to this blog post and try a couple more!

  1. Develop an attitude of love and tranquility. When you notice thought/feelings popping up during your meditation (because as we discussed in the previous point, they will), receive them with a friendly attitude rather than seeing them as intruders or opponents. They are a part of you, though not all of you. Be loving and not harsh in your response to their arrival.

  2. Practice conscious breathing! If you are unsure about what this is, or haven’t quite mastered the art of conscious breathing yet, feel free to visit my previous blog posts about it! Count your breaths. Begin your conscious breathing by counting “one” as you take in the first breath, then “two” as you breathe out. Repeat this to the count of 10, and then start again at one. Then be sure you are following the other steps of conscious breathing as outlined for you in my previous blog posts…this is a huge component of successful meditation!

  3. Don’t get caught up in the “how”…just do. Most people worry too much about irrelevant things when comes to meditation, causing them to want to abort mission. People tend to consume themselves so much with where to sit, how to sit, what cushion to use, what position to assume, how their hands should look, etc. These are things that are not mandatory to determine when you are just getting started.  You can begin now by simply sitting on a chair/couch, your bed, or the floor.  Sitting “Indian style” is completely up to you in the beginning stages…do what is most comfortable for you and we can graduate to that later.

  4. Sit for just five minutes. It will seem ridiculously easy to meditate for just five minutes, but it’s perfectly fine. Start with just five minutes a day for a week. After the week is over, you can then increase by another five minutes and do that for a week. If all goes well, by increasing just a little at a time, you’ll be meditating for almost half an hour a day in the 2nd month, which is amazing! The key here is starting off small first (baby steps).

  5. Try to meditate first thing each morning. It’s easy to say, “I’ll meditate every day,” but then we tend to get absorbed in the tasks of the day and forget. Try setting a reminder or phone alert for every morning when you get up that says “meditation time” or “meditate”. Get it in before the day even begins so that you know that it will be done. Also, doing it in the mornings help to set the tone for the rest of your day!

  6. Become present to how you are feeling as you initially begin to settle into your meditation session. Do a quick assessment of yourself (including your mental status). How does your body feel? Are you tense anywhere? What is the quality of your mind? Busy? Tired? Anxious? The key here is to see and accept that whatever you’re bringing to the meditation session as completely okay.

  7. Bring yourself back to the present time when you drift away. Accept now that as you begin, your mind will wander…this is a fact, but not a problem. Whenever it happens, just acknowledge it, remain calm, smile, and simply gently return to your conscious breathing. Count “one” again, and start over. It’s ok to feel a little frustration, but the key is to master returning your mind back to your present, meditative state of being. Practice makes this get better and better with time!

  8. Very similar to point number three, try not to let yourself worry about whether or not you are “doing it wrong”, because there will come a point in time when you will want to do that. Just know that you are not doing it wrong, simply because there is no perfect way to do it! Just be content with the fact that you are doing it at all!

  9. Try not to let yourself get caught up in the hype of “clearing your mind”.  Many people think meditation is about total mind clearing or being able to pause all of your thoughts. Although this can sometimes happen, it is not the complete intention or goal of meditation. Again, having thoughts is a normal thing…we all have them. So simply “shutting your brain down” should not be the focus here. Instead, just try to practice focusing your attention, and returning to your present state of meditation when your drift away.

  10. As you do more and more sessions (maybe in your second or third week, or so), you can begin to practice staying a little while with whatever thoughts/feeling arise in the midst of your session, before returning to your conscious breathing as I mentioned in points six and nine. We tend to want to avoid feelings that don’t make us feel too good like frustration, anger, anxiety, etc. However, an amazingly useful meditation practice is to stay with the feeling for a while. Just stay, and be curious. Get present to its effect on you, where it is coming from, etc.

  11. Again, as you move deeper into your session count, you can now shift your focus to something deeper…like really getting to know yourself and how your mind works! Begin to untangle what’s going on inside there? It will be a little cloudy at first, but eventually, by paying attention to things like point number 10, you can can begin to understand yourself. Then, you can advance to actually becoming friends with yourself! Showering yourself love, rather than criticism.

  12. Do a quick physical/body scan, one body part at a time. You can do a sweep from head to toes, or in the reverse from toes to head. Along with your conscious breathing, become present to what each body part is doing in the midst of your session. How does each body part feel? Each joint? Each muscle group? Has anything tensed up? How fast/slow is your heart rate now?

  13. Again, later on (after meditating for at least a week), you can now begin to place your attention on external or surrounding stimuli! You can begin to notice the light around you, the sounds around you, the energy around you.  Just keep your eyes on one spot, and notice the light in the room you’re in. Another day, just focus on noticing sounds. Another day, try to notice the energy in the room all around you (including light and sounds).

  14. Seriously become intentional about committing yourself to meditating. Don’t be one of those that just say, “Sure, Ok, I’ll try this for a couple days.” Really commit yourself to incorporating this as a piece of your lifestyle. So, in your mind, be locked in, for at least a month so that you can reap its true results we discussed in part one of this meditation blog series.

  15. Know that you can meditate anywhere. If you’re traveling or something comes up in the morning, you can do meditation in your office! You can do it in a park! You can do it on a beach! You can do it during your commute! You can do it as you walk somewhere! As discussed in previous points, sitting meditation is the best place to start; however keep in mind that as you continue your sessions, you are practicing for this kind of mindful and meditative state of being in your entire life!

  16. Feel free to follow guided meditations. It may be helpful, especially as you’re first starting out, to try following guided meditations which kind of prompt you on what to do, where to shift your focus, etc. until you are able to “freestyle” it all on your own. These guided meditation links can be easy pulled up on your computer, tablet, cell phone, etc. from a site like YouTube for free!

  17. It may also be helpful for you to find a community of meditators and join them. The support you can get from a group like this is phenomenal. It will also help you to establish accountability in regards to your meditation schedule, and making sure that you are sticking to it despite life circumstances or distractions that may arise.

Begin unlocking the magic of meditation today! 

 

Katherine Igah-Phillips, MD, MHA

Returning to Nature, LLC.

www.returning2nature.com

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