So you have made the decision to start meditating. Congratulations! The benefits of a regular meditation practice far outweigh the difficulty you may encounter when you first start on this journey. With a serious commitment to YOU and practicing you can, and will, maneuver over any bumps in the road you may encounter.
First and foremost, making the decision to meditate is a first big step. Next making, and keeping, the commitment is the second step. Now, let’s meditate!
This is where you can have fun. In my classes, I start by teaching students to meditate to their breath. By bringing your awareness to the simple, but necessary, act of inhaling and exhaling you can enter a meditative state. With practice, your mind will be trained to enter this state almost immediately when you take your first deep inhalation. Breath meditation is the foundation to meditating for everyone, but quite often it is the hardest place for people to start, and leads to him/her abandoning meditation altogether.
What can you do!? After introducing my students to breath meditation, I then move them into all the different types of meditation available. Usually, by the end of my classes each person has found a meditation that has resonated with him/her and an individual meditation process has been started. Meditation is different for each person, but the amazing benefits are the same for all. A key thought to keep in mind is what works for one might not work for another. And that is okay!
At the end of each class session I ask my students to tell me which meditation was their favorite. Quite often each student will pick something different. It is always a perfect example of how we are all different.
In all honesty, I could not do breath meditation when I first started either. My Monkey Mind was too extreme. I searched until I found something that worked. Let’s go over some types of meditation you can try too.
The variety in meditation types is great. There are focused meditations, toning meditations, mantra meditations, visualization meditations, guided meditations, just to name a few. Let’s start with focused meditations. You can use several items for this type of meditation. My favorite is a candle. Set the candle at eye level. Focus your gaze on the flame, and each time your mind wanders you will pull your gaze back to the flame and clear your mind. It sounds hard, but giving your mind the job of focusing on the flame will eventually keep it occupied. Start with just five minutes. You can really use anything you would like for this type of meditation – a beautiful leaf in the fall, your favorite flower, a crystal, a waterfall, etc.
Toning meditations can be extremely relaxing. A variety of types and lengths can be found on the internet. One of my students found her favorite meditation this way, and it was a five minute bell toning meditation. By the end of the session she had a established her own meditation practice by doing this right before she left for work each day. The differences she felt in herself was amazing and for her, hard to explain.
Mantra meditations involve a phrase or a single word, like Ohm. By repeating this phrase/word you can enter an amazing state of meditation. After getting into a comfortable position, take a deep breath, start repeating the phrase/word. You can either say it out loud or to yourself. If you find your mind wanders from the chosen word(s) gently pull it back. These meditations are great for twenty minutes or more, but start with five if that is too overwhelming and work your way up.
Visualization meditations allow your mind to concentrate on pictures. When I first started meditating and it became clear the breath meditation was not going to cut it for me, I discovered doing a Chakra meditation was my key to the door. I could focus on the colors of the Chakras to enter a meditative state. By picturing the color and corresponding chakra location not only was I teaching myself to meditate, but I was getting to know my body, and clear my chakras. I did not know all of this at the time, but I benefitted just the same. If you do not want to work with the chakras then pick your ideal location – the beach, a waterfall, a field full of flowers – whatever it may be to you. Picture yourself there, and go with the feelings brought forth. This is “your spot”. Again, start by getting in a comfortable position, take a deep breath, go to your chosen spot. Start with five minutes, and work your way up from there.
Guided meditations are quite often my students’ favorite meditations because they get to listen, picture, and relax. The work is done for them. You can do some amazing things during guided meditations like go to the beach, be a balloon, watch a healing light work its’ way through your body, meet your Guardian Angel, etc. There is an amazing variety to choose from on the internet and all vary in length. I have a cd with guided meditations that start at five minutes and work up to twenty minutes.
If the breath meditation does not “work” for you then explore other types of meditations. Don’t stay stuck on that meditation and get frustrated. Especially because some teacher told you that is what you have to do. Breath meditation is the basis for all meditations, but there are ways to build the base and not start there. You will find you do return to the breath when you have made a conscious commitment to building a meditation practice. It is one meditation I can now do anytime, anywhere, and if I am short on time it is my go-to. The goal is to meditate and reap the benefits from the practice.