Start here! Meditation, specifically mindfulness meditation, has grown in popularity over the last few years, especially in Western cultures. While meditation can be very simple and obviously incredibly beneficial, there are several common mistakes and many misconceptions about meditation that you will want to avoid if you’re new to the practice and hoping to grow your knowledge.
Getting started on the right foot increases the odds of maintaining your meditation practice and getting the most benefits from it. Use these tips to avoid meditation pitfalls:
1. Sit up straight. Slouching may be comfortable for a couple of minutes, but it takes more strength than you think to support poor posture. Sit up straight and let your skeleton support your weight. Seated awareness represents a position of attentiveness and readiness to receive all of the good being afforded to you.
2. Start slowly. Just a couple of minutes is enough to start. There are two good reasons for this. It’s easier to be compliant when you only have to sit for three minutes at a time. It’s also challenging to meditate for an extended period of time if you’re not experienced. Allow your body to get acclimated to this experience. Don't rush the process and don't become overwhelmed as a result of "DTM": Doing Too Much!
3. Meditate multiple times each day. Again, you only need a few moments to complete a meditation. By sitting for just a couple of minutes, you should have time to sit for multiple sessions. You might want to try meditating for a few minutes each hour. I know, that seems excessive, but trust me, you'll begin to notice your mental stamina improve.
4. It’s all about the breath. Your breath connects you to the moment and helps to keep your mind focused. The breath isn’t something to be focused on intensely, rather it acts as an anchor to maintain awareness of the present. If your mind ever starts to wander or drift to another place, come back to your breath. 5. Count if necessary. If you’re struggling to maintain awareness of your breath, count your breaths. Count each inhalation until you’ve reached five and then start over. Or, you may choose to incorporate mindful breathing linked here! 6. Keep your eyes opened slightly. It’s easier for your mind to wander from the present if your eyes are closed. Keep your gaze lowered and soft. Also, move away from the distractions. Turn your television off and place your phone and other devices away from you so that you're not distracted by alerts or movement around you. 7. Acknowledge thoughts but avoid dwelling on them. All thoughts should be treated the same. They’re just phenomena passing through. Let them go and return your attention to the breath. Every time! Return back to your breath.
8. Be patient. It seems like it should be easy to concentrate for a few minutes, but the mind likes to stay busy. It’s a challenging habit to break. Be patient. Give yourself grace. Realize that even if it doesn't feel like it, you are making progress.
See ya next week for part two!