words by Janet Murray
How many of you have got ‘learn to meditate’ as one of your New Year’s Resolutions? And yet, despite your best intentions, and having read loads of articles about all the benefits of meditation, you’re still not quite sure how to start. Your reluctance might not just be pure procrastination (it might not be, but let’s not rule it out!) Or it might be that you’re a bit baffled as to where to start. After all, the word ‘meditation’ is as broad as the word ‘sport’. It covers a lot of different approaches.
And there are a lot of strange ideas about meditation – here are a few that you might have heard:
- that you need to be a vegetarian
- that you have to be able to sit in the lotus position
- that you need special equipment
- that you need to go to classes
- that you have to be able to empty your mind
- that you have to become a Buddhist
- etc, etc
There are probably as many misunderstandings about where to start with a meditation practice as how to start training for a marathon. So here’s the news: You just need yourself and your breath. The breath is the base of all mediation practices and you don’t need any fancy equipment, cushions or bells to do it. You might want to get a few of those things later, once you’ve developed a practice and find them supportive, but you absolutely don’t need anything to get started except willingness and commitment.
Here are my top ten tips to beginning a mediation practice the fastest, easiest, cheapest and simplest way:
- Start today, not tomorrow.
- Schedule no more than 5 minutes of meditation daily to begin with. Make it as easy peasy as possible or you’ll find a way not to do it.
- Sit down on a hard chair or the floor. You can sit in any position you like as long as your back is comfortably straight and not leaning against anything. If you’re sitting on the floor, you might like to wedge a cushion under your coccyx as it helps to keep you upright without straining too hard. If you’re sitting in a chair uncross anything (arms, legs) and put down anything you’re carrying or which is in your lap.
- Set an alarm for 5 minutes.
- Close your eyes (if you’re feeling sleepy, you might want to keep them slightly open and unfocussed).
- Focus your attention mentally on the tip of your nose.
- Observe your breath: breathe in, “count one” and breathe out, “count one”.
- Repeat: breathe in, “count two”; breathe out, “count two”.
- Repeat for ten breaths and then start again at ‘one’ until the alarm goes off
- Each time you notice that your thinking has wandered away, bring it back gently to the tip of your nose and your breathing and start the cycle again from breath “one”.
If it sounds simple, it is. If it sounds easy, it is. But you might be surprised how rarely you get to ‘ten’ at first.
Your mind is like an excitable puppy bouncing all over the place. It’s your job to housetrain it. And you don’t housetrain a puppy by yelling at it, telling it ‘it’s stupid’ or losing patience with it. That’s how to demoralise and upset a puppy, not train it. Start treating yourself with gentleness, precision and patience. Consciously doing this can be as transformative as the meditation itself, because you’re learning how to be a more compassionate human being. And it’s surprising how many of us who are kind to others are actually really very unkind to ourselves. If you’ve never done any mind training before (which is what meditation is, just as all sports are a form of body training) you can’t expect to be an expert immediately. The trick, like all training, is to start small, do it regularly, keep your commitments and seek the company of others to help you with your motivation.m Meditation can sound very esoteric, very weirdy-beardy. But ultimately it’s just about you, sitting down to train your mind to stop yapping. The benefits are measurable as well as immeasurable.
JANET MURRAY BA, DipM Master Prac NLP :
Janet is a Master NLP practitioner and inspirational coach who is passionate about working individuals and teams to help them fulfill their potential personally and professionally. The author of two books on relationship strategies and the mother of two teenage sons, Janet combines her intuitive and practical wisdom with her corporate background as an international trader with Shell UK. She’s also a successful entrepreneur having co-founded and launched her own training delivery and publishing business that was successfully sold and which continues to thrive today. An inspirational leader, entrepreneur and communicator, Janet is passionate about helping people to create and achieve the life they desire. www.janetmurray.com