Our mind needs a shower just as much as our bodies. Meditation is a great way to give our mind a mental shower and wash away all the grime that sits in our subconscious. If we leave our minds untouched, the grime continues to accumulate layer by layer and manifests itself in unhealthy actions, unhealthy habits, and unhealthy communication.
Many people are turning to meditation to control the monkey mind so it doesn’t control us. But for some, meditation sounds daunting. How can you sit still for hours when priorities keep piling on your to-do list?
I was one of those people who, in the beginning, couldn’t stop thinking about what I needed to do after I was done meditating. But I’m also one of those people that have experienced the peace and bliss to help me tackle my to-do list with ease. It is such a simple tool to use and the effects are boundless.
Here are 5 tips every beginner should know about starting a meditation practice:
1. let go of expectations
Don’t expect to be able to sit comfortably for 2 hours on your first try. Don’t expect to feel great after each session. Yes meditation helps release stress and conquer the mind, but just like any skill, it is a process that isn’t always pleasant. Try to begin your meditation practice with an open mind and heart. Be kind to yourself and honor your body for whatever it can do in the moment.
2. practice makes perfect
In the beginning you may only be able to meditate for 3 minutes. That is perfectly fine! In our fast paced, over stimulated society it is difficult to train our mind and body to become still. Start with 3 minutes the first week, 6 minutes the next, and gradually work your way up to a time that feels right for you.
3. stretch your body
In Kundalini yoga, we typically do a kriya or yoga set before we meditate. Yoga helps move the energy and stretch the physical body to prepare it for long periods of sitting. Even if you don’t have time to do a full yoga set, it’s a good idea to stretch your body – especially your legs and lower back – to circulate the blood before you begin.
4. have an empty stomach
Meditation is most effective when our stomachs are empty or after we’ve eaten a light meal. When our stomachs are full, oxygen moves to our belly to aid in digestion. We feel tired and sluggish. When our stomachs are empty, our mind remains clear and alert. Meditating first thing in the morning is great not only because our stomach is empty, but because it helps prepare our mind to face the challenges that are waiting for us everyday.
5. experiment with yourself
There are lots of different meditation techniques (just like there are many different styles of yoga) so I would encourage you to experiment with a meditation practice that feels right for you. (Find a quick list here.) It’s also fun to experiment with how and when you meditate – sitting in easy pose, sitting on a chair, meditating in a park, meditating at night, etc. The meditation experience will be different each time, and experimenting with yourself keeps the process exciting when it seems like the last thing you want to do.
Pretty soon you’ll be able to compare what it feels like to go throughout the day with a meditative mind and without. Which do you prefer? Leave some comments– I’d love to hear about your experiences!