I have been a restless person all my life. The notion of sitting quietly even for a minute had me throwing up my hands in absolute surrender. Naturally, meditation was a FAR (yes, in all caps) cry from what I was seeking as a solution to my ‘always on’ mind. So, how did I end up here… writing a meditation guide for beginners?
We all get to a point in our lives where things begin to overwhelm us. You just feel so tired, devoid of motivation. Even simple things can feel like a chore and small ups and downs like the end of the world. Woke up late, missed your deadline, can't find your phone and when you do find it, you realise you forgot to plug in the charger. It's all giving you anxiety. It begins to spiral from a slight turn of events to an avalanche of emotions and stress levels you just can’t seem to process. You’re up in bed, thinking of big and small things, losing sleep because you just can’t get your mind to shut off.
My Pre-Meditation Days
I knew my mental health needed to get some much-needed rest; something that would help me deal with the constant clutter that's now occupying the corners of my mind. I understood my mind wasn't in a great place and it was crying out for love, care, attention, and stillness. And there began my quest for calmness, literally anything that would make me feel at peace with myself. I heard numerous audio tapes, watched YouTube videos and TED talks to see how I could cope, and even got on a course of supplements like magnesium and melatonin thinking they would fix my sleep cycle.
Side note: This is not something I recommend. Not without a doctor’s consultation anyway.
The "help" I was seeking needed to check some boxes. It had to be something that could be done anywhere, took minimal time, and gave quick results. After all, I had a life! Responsibilities, a job, family commitments, and an active social circle. In retrospect, I realise, I was looking for a 2-minute Maggi when what I needed was some slow and sustainably cooked version of self-love and self-care. I needed to actively work on myself and that takes time.
In my research on Dr Google, meditation came up everywhere. And I dodged it like a bullet, completely skipping over the paragraphs that talked about it. Focus on your breath, stay still, and clear your mind of intrusive thoughts… how boring and certainly not my cup of tea, I thought. But I was still open to the idea of audio sleep stories for adults. Narrated in the calmest tone of voice, I was surprised how much they helped refocus my hyperactive mind and fall asleep.
I later found out that sleep stories are a form of guided meditation for sleep. I was shocked… and surprised. And that’s when I decided to give meditation a chance.
My Meditation Journey Was Off To A Rough Start
In the beginning, I surely couldn't manage to control my breath work without my mind wandering off in about a couple of seconds. I would catch myself thinking just about everything under the sun - my to-do list for the day, what the vet had to say about my dog, my next vacation, counting the number of days to the weekend — everything but focusing on my breath. I soon figured out that I wasn't cut out to follow meditation videos on YouTube. And so, I decided to seek out a trainer, or a meditation guru if you will, who would guide me through the process of being able to hold on to my always-on-the-run thoughts.
It helped. And, how! Here’s a condensed version of 4 big Aha! Moments I had which may help other beginners on their quest to understand how to do meditation:
4 Important Meditation Tips & Tricks For Beginners
- Don’t Expect Too Much… In The Beginning
Yes, I know it sounds very contradictory, but hear me out. Of course, you are right to have expectations. Meditation is well known because it leads to holistic wellness and benefits your entire being—mind, body, and soul. However, it takes consistent effort, practice, and commitment to uncover this plethora of benefits which are certainly there at the end of the tunnel. But nothing changes overnight. It's not like you meditate for 3 days back to back and you feel like a whole new person. When it comes to meditation, all good things come to those who are patient, persistent, and purposeful.
- Create The Environment To Meditate
It would be very helpful if you could find a quiet place. It could be a dedicated special meditation corner in your home; maybe even set the mood with some essential oils for aromatherapy, a soft rug and some cushions.
Now choose the weapon of your choice. Your meditation posture—the one that works for you. Sit on the chair or a comfy floor mat, relax your shoulders, keep your back straight, hold the mudra position, take a deep breath, and get started on a relaxing meditation sesh. The perfect lotus position isn’t mandatory, it’s just an option. You can even do some sleep meditation on your bed before you sleep if that's what helps you feel less restless.
- Focus On Taking One Step At A Time
Beginners frequently find it difficult to imagine sitting still for even a minute without their minds running off in 100 different directions. But don't be hard on yourself. This is normal and realising this was a game changer for me. What my trainer made me realise is that I needn't meditate for 30 minutes straight right on the first day. Instead, I can start with as little as a couple of minutes or even one minute, and gradually build up on that. And suddenly meditation didn’t feel like a dreadful chore anymore. It didn’t feel like I was failing every time my mind wandered off or I fidgeted, struggling to embody stillness in my physical form.
- Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Breathing is central to meditation. It's essential to focus on sitting quietly and being present in the moment when practicing mindfulness meditation. It is an accessible and well-known meditation approach that has been around for centuries. We develop the ability to perceive and then release the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that arise in our minds, simply through mindful breathing. This is also why aromatherapy works so well with meditation. Scents from essential oils like lavender, jasmine or chamomile can help make you feel calmer faster. They invigorate your olfactory senses, dominating your mind and subsequently leaving no space for intrusive thoughts.
We typically use awareness of the breathing process as the foundation for our meditation practice and as an anchor for our busy brains. Let your thoughts flow and do not pay head to them. They will quieten down on their own. There are other types of meditation as well such as mantra meditation, morning meditation, spiritual meditation, sleep meditation, and more, which you can explore. The best form of meditation is the one that works for you.
Changes I Experienced After 3 Months Of My Meditation Practice
The journey of meditation opened my mind to a whole world of learning. I have gained and let go of so many feelings along the way that I realised they were bringing me down and stunting my emotional growth. If I could go back to the past, I’d advise myself to let go of the stubbornness and pick up meditation sooner. But better late than never, right?
Here's a quick run-through of things I learned, let go of, and gained after meditating consistently:
- I control my emotions and not the other way around.
- I find it easier to fall asleep after a hectic day.
- I make better decisions in stressful situations.
- I am more present in work and life.
- I have connected with my inner self with heart fullness meditation.
- I have learned to let go of negative emotions like holding grudges
- I have learnt to forgive.
- I feel fitter not just mentally but physically too
- My skin is at its radiant best and approves of meditation.
- I can meditate and find my calm anytime and anywhere — in the car, at my desk, before bed
Saying meditation changed my life would be an understatement. It has done far more than that for me. It has introduced me to a new way of life, far more than words can explain. It has transformed my perspective in life, helped me conquer my inner demons, and has made me a better person.
If you’re contemplating whether you should start meditation, take it as a sign and give it a go. And, then there'll be no looking back.