I pondered if I should title this post Meditation for Dummies, which seemed kind of rude…or Meditation for Beginners…or simply, Meditation for Everyone. I am not a meditation teacher, or a meditation expert, by any means. I’m just someone who meditates and has seen the benefits that it has brought to my own life, every day. The benefit is seen not in the actual moments of silence itself (although that helps), but in the mindfulness that meditation brings to the rest of my daily tasks. It is seen in the times when I would normally be freaking out, but instead am breathing through it and taking action, or staying calm, if calm is what is required. It is seen in those times when after meditation, I am hit with what would seem like a caffeine rush of energy!
I got started with meditation after reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I have recommended this book to so many people, and have heard wonderful feedback. Dan Harris makes it accessible, and less fluffy, if that matters to you. So if you’re reading this and wondering, how do I get started with meditation?…
Step 1, Read 10% Happier by Dan Harris
…it may change your whole perspective on meditation.
Step 2, Start Meditating
You may be thinking, “wait, wait, wait, I need guidance here. HOW do I meditate?” That answer is different for everyone. For me, I found having an app helped with tracking my progress. I mostly do silent meditation, so I simply set the timer, sit cross-legged (sometimes I lie down, or sit in a chair), close my eyes, and breathe in and breathe out, completely focusing on the breath…and yes, my mind wanders, and my job is to bring it back to the breath. I started with 5-minutes a day to create the habit, but 1 minute is good too. Whatever time you have in your day, you’ll see the benefits!
The app I use for the ease of silent meditation is Insight Timer. Insight Timer also has guided meditations, if you choose to go that route. The other apps I personally recommend, or have heard others enjoy, include: 10% Happier, Oak, Calm, Headspace, and Buddhify (links below).
Silent meditation or guided meditation – the choice is up to you! Maybe you will want to try both and see which one works best. A friend recently asked why I prefer silent meditation, and I told her that perhaps I am too diligent of a student (insert laughter here), because with guided meditation, I focus so much on what is being said, that I neglect to focus on my body, my thoughts, and my breath. She, on the other hand, said that because of her obsessiveness, she gets over-focused, often thinking about why she is distracted and what she is distracted about. For her, listening to a guided meditation helps put her mind in the right place. It made me think that for some people, guided meditation may help take some of the pressure off.
Here are some healthy reminders about meditation (once again, many of these thoughts come from what I’ve learned from Dan Harris):
- You can always start again! [If you meditate for a week, and then stop, it doesn’t have to mean forever. Dive back in at any time].
- Daily-ish is okay! [If you’re like me, you may need to do something every day to really feel like you’ve made a habit of it, but if that’s not for you, that is perfectly a-okay!].
- One-minute counts! [Find the time that works for you and your life! I cannot emphasize enough, One Minute Counts! There have been days for me when I have meditated for less time than normal, because that was all that I could squeeze in. If you’re swamped, 1 minute sure feels better than 0].
- Your mind is not meant to be blank! [This one is very important. People often think that they are not good at meditation, because their minds wander. Everyone’s mind is busy. Focus on the breath, realize when your mind wanders, come back to the breath. THAT’S meditation!].
We don’t meditate to get better at meditating; We meditate to get better at life.
Obviously, meditation is something that can be completely free, but here are some purchases that have helped make my meditation so much better!
- Books! 10% Happier by Dan Harris. He also has a second book that is about the different ways to meditate. Plus, he has an app!
- Apps! Many of them are free, but the Buddhify App is one I enjoy that is not free.
- Meditation Cushion! For me this has been a game changer for not only having a consistent place to sit, but also for being able to sit comfortably for a longer duration of time. There are many varieties to choose from.
- Meditation Classes or Retreats! I have only ever done meditation classes, where you pop in and pop out, so I can’t speak to the retreats, but I have heard nothing but wonderful things from those that have chosen to fully immerse themselves into the world of meditation!
Happy Meditating, y’all!