Meditating is hard. It can seem like a daunting task and after repeated failure it is easy to just give up. But there is a reason they call it a practice! Just like a yoga practice, every single day is unique and you never know what will surface when you take the time to practice.
The most important things are actually the simplest.
Create a set time in your schedule. At first it is best to do it first thing in the morning when you wake up. You may want to splash some water on your face and brush your teeth to make sure you don’t fall back to sleep!
Designate a set duration. When beginning a practice it can be hard to set aside part of your day to sit still. You may want to start with three minutes on the first day and set an alarm. See how that feels and try adding an additional minute every other day so by the end of the week you are sitting for six minutes.
Find a special space in your home. Make a space that is quiet and clean. No clutter or visual distractions. You can create an altar of things that are special or have significant meaning to you. Make sure you have the proper seating arrangement that you can be comfortable sitting upright.
Designate a focal point. You may want to keep your eyes open and stare at a candle flame. Other people choose to close their eyes and focus on the third eye if they are intellectual or the heart center if they are emotional. Try different methods to see what feels best.
Focus on your breathing. Slowly begin to inhale through the nose taking slow deep breaths in and out. At first you can count your breaths in an effort to keep the mind from wandering. When you mind does wander, just bring your focus back to breathing as quickly as possible. Your mind is going to wander and it is okay! When you are done with your practice just take a moment to bring awareness to where you mind wandered to.
This is a starting point. What you do with it from here is up to you! There are many benefits to meditation, as simple as lower stress levels to preventing heart disease. There are several apps out there to help you! Here are the top three I have tried and my brief reviews.
Insight Timer - I love this app because there are several different ways to use it. It does have a timer that you can completely customize with different peaceful sounds. That way if you are trying to meditate for ten minutes, you could set the timer for ten minutes but you could also have a bell chime at 5 minutes and at 9 minutes so you know when you are half way done and when you only have a minute to go. Sometimes sitting in silence for ten minutes can seem like an eternity so some days I like the timer component! The other feature of this app I see as a positive and a negative. There are thousands of guided meditations on here from teachers throughout the world. In that sense it is awesome but it tends to suck me into scrolling to find the perfect one I'm in the mood for. I avoid it a little now because I spent to much time searching and not enough time meditating but it is completely free!
Headspace - This is a great one for beginners that will help you develop a habit. Meditations are set up for a certain amount of days with a specific focus. I have a really difficult time listening to his voice. There is nothing wrong with it but it makes me zone out - I just can't focus on him and my mind wanders way too much. I tried it for a month but cancelled my subscription. It has great topics though for focus, pain relief, relationships, and more. If you like his voice, it is definitely a great structure.
Inscape - This is the one I use consistently now. When I first downloaded it, I wasn't hugely impressed but they just did an overhaul and it's wonderful. The meditations range from 3-20 minutes and are sorted into categories like: Sleeping Better, Reducing Stress, Love & Relationships, and more. There is variety between sound meditation, breathing practices, and guided imagery that my clients and I have really enjoyed.
If you have time for facebook you have time to meditate! Stop making excuses and start your practice today. If you are looking for a more customized practice with a teacher, I offer skype sessions and can create guided meditations and visual imagery specific to your needs and goals.