10 Easy Steps to Start Meditating

We’ve all heard the benefits—meditation makes us happier, smarter, healthier, and more relaxed. But for some reason that’s not enough to convince most of us to do it everyday. 

To many of us, meditating everyday can sound like a mysterious secret. Even though we would love to meditate everyday, the idea sounds like an exclusive club in which only those who have special meditative powers can partake in. That’s a shame because meditation should not feel unreachable or exclusive or unapproachable—so I am here to break it down step-by-step.

BUT FIRST LET ME ADDRESS SOME MEDITATION MYTHS:

Meditation does not mean you have a secret super power to switch off your thinking. 

For starters, meditation is NOT about switching off your thoughts or stopping yourself from thinking all together. Scientists estimate we think anywhere from thousands of thoughts a day, and your thoughts are not going to just turn off when you choose to sit down to meditate for 20 minutes. In fact, meditation is all about allowing those thoughts to come in, but actively choosing not to follow them. 

You don’t have to meditate for an hour everyday for meditation to be beneficial. 

Research shows that meditating for as little as 7 minutes a day can improve quality of life and wellbeing. Meditation is not about quantity, it is about quality and discipline. So make it to the meditation cushion and set an intention to stick with your practice for those 7+ minutes a day. 

If 7 minutes feels too long, start small. One week try meditating for 5 minutes a day, and then slowly increase your daily meditation time by a minute each week. Eventually working your way up to 10 minutes a day, then 15 minutes, and finally 20 minutes a day. (Most research reports cite 20 minutes of meditation a day as the sweet spot for benefits like stress reduction, improved sleep quality, and increased happiness). 

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But I just don’t have time to meditate. 

Do you have time to brush your teeth, take a shower, and go to the bathroom? Then you have time to meditate. 

It is easy to convince ourselves that we don’t have the time to meditate, but at the end of the day if you make it a habit and incorporate it into your day with other essential tasks like teeth brushing, showering, and going to the bathroom, you’ll quickly realize it is just as important as those other daily tasks.  

SO HERE IS HOW TO MEDITATE IN 10 SIMPLE STEPS:

  1. Find a comfortable position. It can be in a chair, on a cushion, or laying flat on your back. But if you choose to lay down make sure you won’t end up asleep. 
  2. Move around a bit and get settled in your position. Meditation is not about holding a monastic position and subjecting yourself to pain—instead shift around a bit or stretch out before you really settle into your meditation position for the next 5-20 minutes. 
  3. Now allow your body to relax. Soften your shoulders and lengthen your back. You can place your hands in your lap or by your sides. 
  4. Gently close your eyes.
  5. Start by taking one deep breath. Breathing in and out at your own pace.
  6. And then allow yourself to begin to breathe normally.
  7. Slowly label your breath “In” as you inhale, and “out” as you exhale. 
  8. If you start thinking (about yesterday, today, tomorrow, etc.) simply say “thinking” in a kind voice to yourself, and lovingly redirect your attention to labeling your breath.
  9. Feel your breath move in your body, as you breathe in and as you breathe out. Following the natural cycle of the breath and coming back to the “in” and “out” labels each time your mind wanders away.
  10. You did it! Now gently stretch out your body, open your eyes, and get back to your day refreshed and relaxed!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sara Shah Mother Yin holistic wellness meditation coach yoga teacherLearn more about Sara Shah at motheryin.com

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