5 Ways to Meditate If Meditation Scares You
It’s no secret that meditation has an incredible list of life-changing benefits to offer. From physically improving the brain by increasing gray matter to boosting mood and relieving stress, it’s true that this ancient practice could be pretty darn great for practically all of us if we took it seriously enough to make it a part of our daily routines.
Despite the known benefits, it’s not uncommon for the word “meditation” to trigger visions of things related to Eastern spirituality in people who aren’t very familiar with it, which can often be enough to scare them off from venturing forward in exploring it further. And if that’s not it, then the idea of sitting alone in silence for several minutes with nothing but your own thoughts might just seem like emotional torture.
Whatever your uncertainties or fears may be about starting a meditation habit, there are lots of different ways to ease into it, turn it into a mental exercise rather than a spiritual practice and even make it a very pleasant experience. Here are just a few tips to get you started.
1. Start with mindfulness.
Meditation doesn’t have to involve sitting still in the lotus position with your eyes closed. Instead, you can start with practicing mindfulness — a simpler form of meditation — for a few minutes here and there as you go about your day.
Being mindful simply means to become completely aware of the present moment, fully accepting it without judgment. Check out these 10 everyday situations that are perfect for practicing mindfulness.
2. Practice deep breathing.
Many forms of meditation involve placing attention on the breath, especially as a starting point to calm the entire body and mind. You’re essentially meditating just by placing your awareness on your breath.
Breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth, noticing how your abdomen rises higher than your chest while breathing in and then relaxes, expanding outward to release all the air. This ensures that your breathing is done entirely from your diaphragm. Here are some more beneficial breathing patterns to try out.
3. Do a body scan.
Body scanning is a form of mindfulness meditation that involves focusing on one area of your body at a time. from your pinky toe to the top of your head. The idea is to move your awareness up or down the body, going from one body part to the next.
All you have to do is place your focus on each body part by really feeling it. Release any tension you maybe feeling by fully relaxing the muscles before you move on to the next body part.
4. Follow a guided meditation.
A lot of people have no idea how to start meditating and may not feel comfortable going it alone. When this is a concern, guided meditations can really be a huge help. These often come in the form of audio recordings that you can listen to with headphones, which has a teacher’s voice guiding you through the breath work, visualization and overall focus of awareness for the particular meditation you’re doing.
You could do a simple search in Google or on Youtube for free guided meditations or you could download one of the many free meditation mobile apps there are now available. My personal favorite is the Stop, Breathe & Think app, which is great for beginners and offers meditation suggestions based on how you’re feeling.
5. Work with a teacher.
Lastly, nothing beats working with a skilled and experienced mindfulness/meditation teacher who knows how to guide people through their own journeys. This may just be the best and only option for people with certain mental health conditions or other personal concerns.
Besides trying to find a good teacher via referrals and word of mouth, you may want to check out ChopraTeachers.com to do a search for certified teachers in your geographical area.
Meditation is meant to be extremely simple. If you ever find yourself feeling frustrated or confused while trying to meditate, make sure you refer back to the above tips to ensure that you keep making progress, wherever you may be in your own personal journey.
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