Meditation teachers have described the mind as a "mad monkey." We jump from thoughts to emotions to memories and back, our minds never silent in this busy world. Mediation is the art of silencing the mind. Through it, you attain the power to control your thoughts and increase concentration and focus. You can also find that elusive inner peace.
Like anything new, meditation has a learning curve and takes practice to master. Below are 6 tips to help you get started on your own journey to discovering inner peace.
1. Find Your Space.
Choose a place that is quiet with no distractions or interruptions. It should be comfortable and peaceful. Remove temptations, like your phone. If the spot you pick today doesn't work out, try something else tomorrow. Eventually you will find a place that consistently works for you, and your mind and body will associate that space with meditation.
2. Warm Up.
It helps to prepare both the mind and body before beginning. Take a quick walk to get the mail or do a few warm-up yoga exercises. This will improve circulation and get rid of any restlessness before you begin. Likewise, take some deep breaths before beginning. Our breathing is so connected to our mind and emotions that as soon as you fall into a slow and steady rhythm, it quickly leads the mind into a peaceful state.
3. Close Your Eyes (or Keep a Relaxed Gaze on One Point).
Our eyes are directly connected to the brain. Keeping the eyes open keeps you alert because the brain is hardwired to notice any change in the environment. To make it easier, it is sometimes suggested to begin with your eyes half open. Often, when we close our eyes, the mind immediately starts to race. By starting with a gaze, you can ease yourself into a peaceful state before closing your eyes all the way.
4. Start Small.
You can meditate for as little as five minutes in the beginning! And start with just a simple goal -- to control your breathing. Set a timer so you don't keep peeking at the clock, and focus on allowing your breath to effortlessly get lighter and smoother. A great tool to keep your attention in the beginning stages is to count your breath. You can either count on the in-breath or the out-breath. Once you’ve reached a count of ten, then start again from the beginning.
5. Have Reasonable Expectations.
Many people believe that proper meditation means having a clear mind with no thoughts. While this might be your end goal, it takes a lot to get there. In the beginning, don't stress over the thoughts that come to you. If you worry you're "doing it wrong," your thoughts will become yet more clouded. Instead of fighting with your thoughts, just let them come and go like watching clouds in the sky. After they pass, return your focus to your breathing. Whatever you do, don't try to clear your mind...you will spend your session in an endless battle of thinking about not thinking.
6. End Slowly.
It may be tempting to jump up when the timer goes off and get back to the demands of your day. But you would then miss out on one of the best parts of meditation...those first moments of peace upon conclusion. Be grateful that you took this time to do something positive for yourself. Take a few moments to soak it in. Then when you are ready, gradually become aware of your body and your surroundings and lastly, open your eyes.