A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation – Part 1: Getting Started

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If you’re looking for ways to improve your physical or emotional health, productivity, memory, focus and energy, meditation can truly help you do that. Even better, it’s free.

There are many ways to meditate, and while I’ve just scratched the surface with my practice, I’ve already seen some of its positive effects working in my life.

The thing is, a lot of people just don’t know how to get started, think it’s strange, or have tried it but were discouraged. After all, meditation sometimes gets a bad rap; people think they have to sit cross-legged, chant Om, be spiritual or religious and completely empty their minds. Those feats range from awkward to intimidating.

But getting started really isn’t so bad. I’ll break down some of the common roadblocks that keep people from meditating. In part two, I’ll actually walk you through a meditation sequence so you can try it yourself.

Roadblock 1: “I’m not calm or patient; I can barely sit still.”

Being calm and patient is not a requirement for meditating. In fact, one of the main reasons people do meditate is to increase their calmness, patience and inability to sit with themselves and their emotions. The practice will help you find those qualities in yourself and shed your impatience or angst.

Roadblock 2: “Meditation is too time consuming. I’m busy.”

Start with five minutes a day and slowly increase it as you begin to see its benefits. It is said, though, that if you think you’re too busy to meditate for five minutes, you should meditate for 15. It basically means that meditation will help you put your schedule and stress levels into perspective.

Roadblock 3: “I’ve tried emptying my mind, but I can’t.”

Meditation isn’t about creating a blank mind; that’s not normal. If you’ve been trying to force your mind to stop all activity, it’s no surprise you’ve had trouble with it. Meditation is actually just a way to view your thoughts without trying to change them or force them to do anything.

Roadblock 4: “I don’t see how meditation can help me.”

Over time, meditation has tremendous health benefits, including reduced stress levels, improved sleep, greater emotional balance, increased immunity, reduced blood pressure, relief from conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, and reduced depression, anxiety and anger issues. Overall, it can relieve all kinds of emotional and physical ailments while giving you more clarity on what’s really in your heart and mind.

Roadblock 5: “I don’t have anywhere to go that’s silent or isolated.”

The great thing is that you can meditate anywhere. Being aware of the sounds around you without letting them distract you is part of it. Of course, being interrupted by coworkers or roommates can be tricky, but don’t worry about finding total silence and isolation. You can sit on a park bench, in an airplane, at your desk, anywhere. As you continue meditating, you will start to learn how to be mindful of your thoughts and feelings anywhere, without even closing your eyes.

Stay tuned for a walk-through of a beginner’s meditation sequence!

Image: Caleb Roenigk, Flickr

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