Six years ago, I signed up for a ten day meditation course with no real knowledge of meditation. I practiced and taught yoga, but that was really it. Well, my world got rocked during those ten days and now I have a regular meditation practice which has changed my life in so many positive ways! I recently was back at the meditation center where I did my first course, and every time I go back, I am reminded of the power of meditation and why keeping up my daily practice matters.
To give you a little background, there are many types of meditation out there, but I have only practiced Vipassana Meditation. Friends of mine have told me about others, but this style really works for me, so that’s what I keep doing. The good news is that no matter what typeof meditation you try, they all of a similar goal of concentrating the mind.
Our minds are very busy. I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that you can be physically somewhere, but your mind might be somewhere completely else. The idea behind meditation is to concentrate and strengthen the mind. Gain control. Instead of it wandering here or there, meditation asks the mind to can focus on one thing. Other types of meditation may use objects, mantras, or visualization, the type I do uses natural respiration and sensation.
A strong mind is much like a strong muscle. It can handle challenge and intensity. When life doesn’t go the way one wants it to, the mind often puts on a temper tantrum. It may be miserable, sad, or angry (like about this winter… hint, hint) and that will not only pollute one person’s mind, but start to pass onto others depending on how this person interact with others.
So the idea of meditation is often to make the mind concentrated and strong so one can maintain control over it. Sounds pretty great, right? There are also a ton of physical benefits to meditating as well like lowering blood pressure, stress, and anxiety.
I frequently get asked, “how can one start a meditation practice?” In order to practice Vipassana, the style I do, one has to do a 10 day course to master the technique. I blindly jumped in, which worked for me, but one of the best ways to ease into it is to try a simple practice of 5-10 minutes a day.
Here’s an easy starter meditation that you can do RIGHT NOW for 5-10 minutes.
Find a comfortable seat with a long spine. I love sitting in a chair or on a pillow. Keep your neck long and close your eyes. Put away your phone and turn off all distractions (after you read this).
Start with a few deep breaths in and out through the nose. If your nose is clogged, you can use your mouth as well.
Feel the air come in and out, and focus your mind on what that feels like. The sound of it coming in and out, the texture, the warmth or cold of the air.
See if you can keep your mind focused on the breath. If that doesn’t work, that’s ok. The mind may wander away, so it’s your job to not get frustrated and invite it back to the breath.
Start with creating long 4-6 second inhale sand exhales. See how long you can keep your mind focused on breath.
Once that is easy, see if you can do the same with natural breath. Just feel how it sounds without wishing it was any other way.
Keep practicing for 5-10 minutes a day, preferably when you wake up. Repeat again if you find yourself angry, agitated, sad, or irritated.
If this doesn’t work for you, that’s ok, don’t give up! There are some other resources for you below. I am not a meditation teacher, I am simply giving you a starter meditation in hopes that it will open your mind to how powerful this type of practice can be. I’ve also attached some past blogs I’ve written about my experiences with mediation in hopes it can inspire you to pick up a daily practice.