Meditation can have many benefits on our minds and bodies.
As easy as it may seem, it can be pretty challenging when first starting.
Our expectations when first starting meditation can determine whether we keep up with this new beneficial habit or if we lose interest and motivation after only a few sessions.
Here are 10 tips to help you understand what to expect and to keep your motivation high:
1. Understand What Works For You
There are many types of meditation.
Walking meditation, mindfulness meditation, transcendental meditation, guided meditation, and many more.
Not every type of meditation works for everyone. Try to find what works for you and not just do what everyone else does.
Some people find it very difficult sitting in the lotus position for an hour and meditating. Some may prefer walking meditation as it involves more movement and activity.
Experiment with the different types of meditation, and find what works for you.
2. Start With Guided Meditations
Meditation is not the easiest thing for many people. Sitting down quietly without moving in a cross-legged position can be pretty painful, a little bit boring, and just not easy.
A challenge many people face is dealing with getting bored rather quickly. A reason for this is that they are not used to sitting down without moving for long periods. So 2 minutes can feel much longer than that. This can cause many people to lose motivation and stop meditating.
Guided meditation can help solve this issue since, in guided meditation, you are guided through the whole session. You have something to follow and are not just sitting there wondering how much time has passed.
With guided meditation, you may not even think about the time at all, even if the session is a 30-minute session.
Guided meditation, of course, has many other benefits.
There are many kinds of guided meditation for many subjects, such as anxiety, stress, depression, addiction, and many more.
This is a great way to start meditating as it can help ease you into it.
Let guided meditations guide you through it
3. Expect To Think
Many people think that with meditation comes quietness.
While this may be one of the goals, it's not always the case.
The ability to quiet our minds is difficult to master. It's an ability that can take years of practice.
Expecting our minds to be cleared the moment we sit down and start meditating is just not a realistic expectation. It takes time to learn how to quiet our minds.
If you begin meditating and are full of thoughts, one of them being the thought of you having thoughts when you shouldn't, it's ok. That is normal and expected!
It will take time to be able to control your mind better and to clear your thoughts.
4. Give The Mind Something To Do
Trying to meditate and not think of anything will just cause us to think more about things. It will cause us to think about not thinking, in addition to all the other thoughts already in our minds.
This is where guided meditation comes in handy. It gives your mind something to focus on, something to follow and listen to.
It gives your mind a sort of distraction from your thoughts, and through this distraction, it also allows us to calm and relax our minds from these thoughts.
Other tools can be used, such as counting from 1 to 10 without losing focus (not as easy as it sounds!). Every time a thought pops into your mind, start over from 1.
Focusing on your breathing is another good technique for practicing concentration and keeping your mind off those unwanted thoughts.
Count from 1 to 10. Focus on your breath and count those too, or try guided meditation.
5. Start With Short Sessions
It has become a common thought that people who meditate spend their day sitting in the lotus position. That they spend hours at a time just sitting.
While this may be true for some people, it's not true for everyone.
Honestly, sitting cross-legged without moving is not easy at all, not in the beginning. It can be painful, boring, and difficult to keep at it.
Meditation does not require us to sit for hours.
It may not require us to sit at all, depending on the type of meditation.
This is important to understand. Otherwise, we may lose interest quickly if we think we must devote hours sitting still in a painful position each day.
While sitting for longer does have its many benefits, this can be very difficult to do when first starting. Instead, start with short sessions.
A 5-minute session is a good start.
Taking 5 minutes out of your day should be doable at some point throughout the day.
Find a quiet place, somewhere you can find some peace, and just meditate and be present in that moment for those 5 minutes.
This can be done multiple times a day.
At your own pace, you can add time to this. Starting with 5 minutes, going up to 10 minutes, then 15, and then for as long as you feel you need.
Start with multiple shorter sessions rather than one very long session. Even 5 minutes can be enough.
6. Don't Worry About Missing A Session Or Two
Studies have shown that even a few minutes of meditation per day has many benefits.
Missing a day or two is not the end of the world. As long as it doesn't cause you to lose your motivation, don't stress about it.
Creating habits can be very difficult to do.
If we have made it a habit to meditate every day and have successfully done it for 30 days straight, but because of circumstances, had to miss one or two days, this could easily cause us to lose motivation and give up the habit.
Don't give in to those negative thoughts. Understand that it is ok to miss a few sessions.
Don't give in to negative thoughts or stress about missing a session. Just do it when you can.
7. Don't Stress Over It
Part of the purpose of meditating is to destress our bodies and minds.
There have been numerous studies that have shown the positive impact meditation has on the body and mind. That includes reducing stress and anxiety.
But, if we stress about not being able to meditate today or that we missed a session yesterday, we are doing the exact opposite of what we are trying to accomplish.
We are adding extra stress to ourselves when we are trying to reduce it.
Creating new habits can be very difficult, and making a habit out of meditating is no exception. If we stress over the fact that we may or already have missed a session, we could end up losing all motivation for it and abandoning it entirely.
It's ok to miss a few sessions.
8. It's Not Comfortable, But Find A Relaxing Position
This is a pretty straightforward one.
If you have ever seen someone sitting in the lotus position while meditating and thought: that doesn't look very comfortable, you were right.
Especially in the beginning, this position can be pretty painful for some.
Due to the sitting position and not being used to it, it can cause some levels of pain in your knees and back, though it should not last very long.
The pain usually starts fading away as soon as you get out of the lotus position and stretch out your legs.
Don't try to go full lotus position. Most of us cannot, at least not in the beginning.
Find a comfortable position to sit in, one that you will be able to sit in for the entire session. Even sitting in a chair is ok.
Slowly, as you get more into meditation and practice it more, you will get used to sitting with a straight back. The pain will fade away, and you will get closer to sitting in the lotus position.
Find a comfortable position, and with time you will be able to go full lotus.
9. Don't Expect A Sudden Miracle
Meditation can indeed have many benefits on our lives, and the more we do it, the greater the benefits can be.
A misconception many people have when they begin meditating is that their problems will instantly be solved. That sitting still for a whole day will make all of our issues and worries fade away.
This is not how it works. Meditation takes time, literally.
It takes time to get used to sitting in a meditative position.
It takes time to train your mind to be clear of thoughts.
While many people may feel the immediate benefits, don't expect it to be a miracle cure.
It just takes time, as all good things do.
10. Enjoy It
Not all types of meditation are for everyone, luckily though, there are many for us to choose from.
Meditating should not be stressful. It should not be painful or a burden.
It is a practice, something that takes time to learn. The more we do it, the better we get at it, and the greater the benefits.
Meditation can be very personal and very enjoyable as it can provide the calmness we are looking for. It can give us some peace and can help us be more mindful in our daily lives.
Meditation can give us peace and a better understanding, allowing us to enjoy life and be in the present moment.
The best tip that can be given is to just start meditating.
Don't expect your life to change after your first time meditating.
It takes time, time well spent, as it can have many benefits in our lives and our wellbeing.
Meditation does not require much other than patience, dedication, and strong motivation to bring out the best in you.
I hope these tips will help you on your journey to a better and more mindful life.
If you have any tips that were not mentioned here and would like to share them, feel free to write them in the comments!