You don’t need formal training to begin meditating. In fact, one of the best things about the practice is that it’s accessible to absolutely everyone. Like many people, however, you may have preconceived notions about it and may even feel somewhat intimidated. These five tips are sure to help:
- Start Small – The biggest mistake that people make when trying meditation for the first time is biting off more than they can chew. Drop any expectations that you may have about how your practice is supposed to be–including how long each session lasts. At first, you are better off aiming for a meditation period of three to five minutes rather than jumping immediately into an hour-long session.
- Don’t Overthink It – When it comes to meditation, you can’t force the issue. Drop any ideas about how you expect it to go, how you are supposed to sit or even how you are supposed to feel. Any time that you catch yourself wondering if you’re doing it “right,” find your breath again and focus on it once more. You may have to gently direct yourself back to the breathing again and again, and that’s perfectly normal and okay.
- Go Easy On Yourself – One of the most beautiful things about meditation is that there is no overarching goal or finish line. Sure, it can help you to cultivate a deeper sense of peace or to stop being constantly distracted by random thoughts and feelings, but there is no definitive progression to speak of. Avoid thinking about any goals; instead, let the process unfold naturally.
- Try Different Positions – When meditation comes to mind, the image of the happy Buddha sitting with his legs twisted up like a pretzel spring to mind. Sitting cross-legged is definitely a popular way to go, but the truth is that you can position yourself however you’d like to meditate. You don’t even need to sit still at all, in fact–many people swear by walking meditation.
- Use Guided Meditations – Finally, a great way to ward off those thoughts about whether or not you’re “doing it right” is by using guided meditation. Some folks only do so in the early stages while others prefer this every time that they meditate. Apps are readily available, including Headspace, and they provide helpful instructions during meditation sessions that may help you to avoid feeling so lost.
More than anything, remember this: Meditation is easy, and it’s not reserved for people with high-stress lives. Even in retirement, the mind can always use a break and a little more space; meditation is a fun, simple way to make that happen.