Too often, the mind is trying to fool us into negativity, pessimism and self-doubts and criticism. Many of us tend to distract ourselves from it and ignore it. But there is always a time when that inner voice creeps up on us and gets to us. What to do about it? Well, it all sounds so easy:’Quiet down the mind, remember that you are not your mind, but just the observer and free to choose whether to listen your mind or not.’ Or simply, ‘Meditate’! I am in such a constant battle with my mind. It keeps finding reasons to doubt and criticize myself for everything that I am doing and feeling. I have been trying to distracting myself: watching series after series just to reach a state of not thinking, or whenever an ugly thought popped up I reached for my phone forcing myself to think about anything but myself and push this scary feeling away.
That obviously did not do any good. And when being completely honest, I knew it wasn’t really working. I had trouble falling asleep at night, felt restless and constantly had a feeling of rush in my body. I was completely overwhelmed by the immensity of my mind, yet unable to deal with it… I am certain that each one of us knows what this feels like.
Yet, very few people, including me at that time, know how to get to a state of more ease and relaxation. The key? Meditate!
But how to get started? When meditation first got my attention, I didn’t know where to start and read one article after another trying to find some rules or clues to follow. Since this was not easy and also not really helpful, I want to try and give you some of these clues to get started with practicing meditation regularly:
Where? The space.
Create a quiet and comfortable space for your meditation practice. If you have a spare room or one that is only used occasionally this is ideal. If not, a little corner in any other room that can offer silence and solitude is great, too. Once you have found your corner, create a relaxing and calming atmosphere. This can really mean anything. When I practice meditation, for example, I light up a little candle and turn off any other light, and sit on a cushion. This helps me become still. Find out what works best for you.
How? The seat.
First of all, you don’t have to sit in a full lotus position in order to meditate! What a relief, huh?! All you need to do is, finding a comfortable seat that allows you to sit upright and still. This can be a simple cross-legged position, half- or full-lotus seat, your heels, but you can also sit on a chair, a cushion, up against a wall to support your back. Try it and see what works best for you. Once you have that position, gently lay down your hands on your legs and let yourself become still.
What? The focus.
Once you have created the space and found your seat, you will soon realize that your mind will start telling you that it’s stupid, uncomfortable and you should be doing the laundry instead or get started with sorting our your financials. In short, you will be thinking about anything. Therefore, set your focus on your breathing. Do not control your breath but simply watch your inhales and exhales. Because I still struggled with simply observing my breath, I began counting my exhales from 1 to 10. Whenever I got lost in a thought or got to 10, I started over again. I have now gone over to a simple, but yet meaningful little mantra: let – go. On every inhale I silently say let, on every exhale I silently say go.
How long? The time and routine.
Don’t worry about the time. The most difficult, yet important thing is to sit down for a meditation practice. If that practice then lasts 3, 7, 10 or 20 minutes is irrelevant. I can of course only speak for myself, but once I have seen and felt the benefits of meditation I stopped thinking too much about setting a timer, but did as I wanted and needed it.
The same goes for setting a routine. If you feel that everyday is too much for you and it becomes more of a project you feel you need to complete, start with once or twice a week. Meditation is about taking time for yourself and not another thing you have to put in your calendar. Once you start feeling the benefits from your practice, everything will evolve automatically and you will manage to find the time and motivation – you might even begin to schedule your other activities around your meditation practice, who knows?
Love, Light & Laughter