The Key To Starting A Meditation Practice
And the three free meditation apps that can help.
If you’ve always wanted to start a meditation practice but thought you didn’t have the time and weren’t sure where to start, you aren’t alone. Meditating can lower stress levels, improve focus and help us get to know ourselves better. In addition, a 2020 study by the National Center for Health Statistics found that people who meditate had lower levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. This all sounds very motivating, but starting a new habit like meditation can seem overwhelming. It's actually quite doable!
There are many styles as well as free-guided audio practices that can help you reach your meditation goals, and you don’t have to spend an hour a day in a quiet room. In fact, a few minutes is better than nothing. Experts say meditating for 12 minutes a day, five days a week, can improve mindfulness and focus. That doesn’t sound like much, but meditation takes practice. It may feel like you aren’t doing it right, or you may be antsy during your first few sessions. The key is to keep at it. Our muscles get stronger the more we work them, and meditation practice is no different.
So, where do you start? First, sit down in a calm place where you are comfortable and won’t be interrupted. If there are other people in the house, let them know you are going to be meditating and you don’t want to be interrupted.
Make sure you are in a position that feels comfortable to you, so you’ll be able to stay in it the entire time. Set a time limit for yourself. Experts suggest beginners start somewhere around 5 minutes. You can build your time the longer you practice.
Start breathing and pay attention to your breath. Feel your breath as it goes in and out of your body. Try to breathe in a rhythm that feels comfortable to you. Your eyes can be open or closed, whichever you prefer.
Your mind will wander (especially at first). The key to meditation is to pay attention to your breath and try to clear your mind. When you notice your mind has wandered, refocus on your breath. Again, this takes practice. It’s normal for our minds to wander or stress over things, especially when it’s quiet. Just keep coming back to your breath. For help with quieting your mind, go here.
When your time is up, open your eyes if they have been closed. Take in your surroundings. Notice any sounds and smells, and how your body feels. What are your thoughts and emotions? To keep yourself motivated and to stay in a routine, put meditation in your daily calendar or keep your yoga mat out on your bedroom floor as a reminder.
Finally, here are three free meditation apps that can help you get started:
Do any of you meditate? How did you get started? Let us know in the comments below.