Tips for Beginning a Meditation Practice
Carolena Coley, LPC
A meditation practice can be a beneficial tool for everyone, however, it is important to know how to get started. Here are some tips to make a practice consistent while having realistic expectations. It is important to understand that meditation will not silence your brain or remove all of your negative thoughts. That is not the goal or purpose. The goal of meditation is to make space in the mind, allowing you to think with clarity and be more observant of what is going on within.
1. Create goals for your practice and understand what it is that you really want. Each day create an intention for that time what you would like to focus on, this can help when thoughts are flooding the mind to come back to the intention. An intention can be something you want to work on, an affirmation or a dedication to someone.
2. Choose a time that can be consistent for a daily practice, I usually suggest meditating in the morning since the day can get away from us.
3. Having the same place that is quiet, peaceful and safe for your meditation practice is also important. Use whatever you need to feel comfortable; a meditation pillow, music, aromatherapy can be helpful.
4. Make sure you are clear of distractions, be intentional about this time, make it sacred. Put devices away this is not a time for interruptions.
5. Meet yourself where you are, explore what will make you most successful. If using a meditation app makes this more approachable do that, I suggest HeadSpace or Stop, Breathe and Think.
6. If using a timer for 5 minutes, then increasing it to 10 minutes is helpful do that! This is your practice create it for you not anyone else! I suggest starting small; 3 minutes for 1 week, then up to 5 minutes for 1 week and continue increasing depending on what is most feasible for you.
7. If breathing exercises are entirely new for you, take time to work on regulating your breath. This is one of the most vital tools especially in times of stress. Establish a rhythmic breathing pattern-inhaling then exhaling for about three seconds.
8. Leave yourself a couple minutes after your meditation practice to write down some notes; how was my breathing? What were my thought patterns like? Did I feel distressed or uncomfortable, or relaxed? What sensations did I experience in my body?
Giving yourself time at the end of your practice to write can allow for further observation and goals for the remainder of the day. Remember to be patient with yourself, you will get there with continuous practice!
Breathe. Connect. Be Kind.