HCAU's Guide to Meditation

Meditation can seem overwhelming to take up at first. When I first started, I was hesitant. I worried about how on earth I would be able to quiet my brain when I have the concentration of a toddler. Meditation can take a lot of effort to practice - which is ironic considering it is just sitting and breathing. So, I have compiled a bunch of tips that should make starting meditation easier.

Meditation has thousands of benefits which have an impact on your life. Meditation is a Buddhist practice, but you don’t need to believe in every aspect of the religion to practice it. The Dalai Lama says that, “There are techniques of Buddhism, such as meditation, that anyone can adopt.” So there! You can’t let that stop you, the big guy himself says so.

Meditation helps to calm the mind, especially from those anxious thoughts that can sometimes follow you around. It helps you to gain clarity and understanding and realize that not every thought you think is healthy or correct. Meditation can also help you focus on good, important thoughts that should enter you mind more often! Also, it doesn’t have to take up a large part of your day - I am still only doing 10-minute practices and struggle to do any more. Despite the little time I spend meditating, its benefits contribute to my whole mindset of the day.

When first beginning, it can be especially difficult to find the motivation to practice meditation alone. Having someone to guide you through the practice is the perfect way to stay on track. There are many guided meditation resources which I have found useful:

-Headspace: The is a free downloadable app which offers a beginner’s course in guided meditation. It is such a helpful app to help you get into the way of mediation. This app also offers free courses and videos.

- YouTube: YouTube of course is a great source for meditation. My favourite is Yoga with Adriene. She is a yoga teacher who also does helpful videos on guided meditation. Here are my favourite videos by her:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4S4twjeWTs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0PSUDvLi8E

Here are my top tips for your meditation journey:

  • Small steps are important when it comes to meditation. It’s important to go slow and start with practices that only last a few minutes.  Headspace beginner practice can be as little as 3 minutes. I know it may seem like you aren’t doing enough, but it is important to get the technic right in order for you to be able to meditate longer.
  • Do it first thing in the morning, or last thing at night. When starting a new skill, you can easily forget about practicing it because it’s still new.

Warning: practicing last thing at night can be great for your sleep; however, I have fallen asleep way too many times when I do it at this time.

  • If you have a hard time focusing on your breathing without thinking of other thoughts, counting your breaths is a great way to stay on track. I tend to count to 10 and then start again. This way, if I start thinking about something else, the counting stops myself and I continue where I left off.
  • It is important not to judge yourself if your brain wanders off. It is impossible for your brain to concentrate every time you practice, especially at the beginning. When you notice that you have not been concentrating, just smile and go back to counting your breaths.
  • It’s also good to focus on how your body feels when you meditate; this can help you to feel grounded and focused during your practice. A lot of resources tell you to do a body scan of yourself while you practice - starting from the top of your head to your toes. Sometimes, during our day to day lives, we can subconsciously push away thoughts and feelings. Doing a body scan can remind us of the things we might not be allowing ourselves to feel.
  • When you are finished with your practice, check in and notice how much lighter you feel. Smile a little, even. Be proud of yourself that you did it, however small or big your practice was! This is an important step to enjoying your meditation, and self-care.

So those are my tips for starting to meditate! I hope they find you well on your journey of meditation, and namaste!