“Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing. The key is to wake up, to become more alert, more inquisitive and curious about ourselves.”~ Pema Chodron
Raise your hand if you have trouble finding time in your day to intentionally focus on yourself and your own spiritual needs.
If your hand is now in the air, you’ve come to the right place – we’re going to explore just what it means to turn inward and to align our energy with that of the Universe.
Getting Started with Your Meditation Practice
Like many of you, there was a time when I struggled to set aside an opportunity to explore my own needs in the craziness of this life, but that all changed several years ago when my soul was shaken in such a way that left me no other option but to take a step back and reevaluate where I was placing my time, energy, and intention.
As I began to integrate meditative practices into my daily routine, I found that the most difficult part was simply getting started; the idea of sitting in silence with nothing but silent thoughts can be intimidating.
6 Steps to Starting Your Meditation Practice
This is why I offer to you a step-by-step guide to establishing a successful meditation practice that will not only help you to feel more grounded, centered, and focused on yourself but will also assist in your spiritual growth:
Before you can actually get to the business of sitting down to meditate, you need to establish what your practice will look like, since no two meditation practices are exactly alike.
When is the best time of day for you to dedicate yourself solely to introspection?
Perhaps the available time you have in your day is early in the morning before others in your home wake up and begin to get ready for the day. Maybe you are someone who finds you have an open window of time midday. Or, for some of you, nighttime might be the best time for your meditation, after others have gone to sleep, and the world is dark and quiet.
Whatever time of day you decide to dedicate to meditation, make sure you do so wholeheartedly. Choose a time of day that will be available to you on a regular basis, since all good commitments start with regular dedication.
Now that you have found your preferred time of day for meditation, you will need to set the stage. Make sure your meditation space has a comfortable place for you to be seated in an upright position (no slouching allowed!) And ensure that your meditation space can be made quiet by closing a door or moving away from other people and noise.
If complete silence makes you nervous, you may want to choose a space that will allow you play some soothing instrumental music in the background (avoid any music that has lyrics as you will easily become distracted). Also keep in mind that your space must not be too bright, as direct sunlight may prove to be detrimental to your concentration.
You may also want to include some peaceful decor in your space like a soft meditation pillow, some incense or sage that can be safely burned during your practice, or a favorite piece of artwork to focus on for a few moments both before and after your meditation.
3. Set Attainable Goals
Ideally, you should be working toward spending 10-20 minutes per day in the practice of meditation, but start small. Begin by spending just 5 minutes meditating each day and work your way up to longer intervals aligned with your comfort level. Meditation, like any other healthy habit, requires practice.
While this should not be the main focus of your meditation practice because giving too much attention to the pace of your breath may lead to feelings of anxiety, you should pay attention to and track the pace of your breath for at least a few inhalations and exhalations to begin your practice.
Checking in with your breath will allow you to ensure that you are not breathing too rapidly nor gasping for air, and will also allow you to make subtle corrections if you are not breathing deeply enough to feel relaxed.
“The quieter you become the more you are able to hear.” – Rumi
Although this practice should be one that aims to achieve stillness and peace, you are only human, and thoughts will come to you. These rogue thoughts will always belong to one of three categories: a memory, a plan, or a worry.
Without judgment, identify your thoughts as they come to you and dismiss them as quickly as possible, bringing your focus back to an internal feeling of calm.
Once your meditation practice is complete, offer gratitude to the Universe for the opportunity to find quiet, contemplative peace. Then, open your eyes, and go about your day knowing that you hold the power within you to align with the energy of the world around you.
Establishing and affirming a regular meditation practice is a process – you will not be a perfect meditator overnight, and that is completely okay! The purposes of meditation are to cut through the noise and clutter of our daily lives and to dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of mindful alignment.
The more regularly you practice meditation and connectedness with the Universe around you, the more deeply you will come to know yourself. And what could be better than that?