Starting a Meditation Practice

The modern world has given us many material comforts, but one of the often unnoticed side effects is the constant stress we feel on a daily basis. Whether it’s the negative news we hear, being rushed for time, work or family pressures we all seem to be going at a very fast pace. One of the effects of this on our body and mind is what I call the slow drip stress response. We seem to find ourselves often in a constant low-level state of agitation, frustration, anxiety, worry or depression. Meditation has been proven in many studies to have a positive effect on improving our physiological reaction, increasing focus, and improving our overall outlook on life.

I often hear from clients that they can’t meditate because they cant turn of their mind. Of course you can;t! At least at first. But with time and consistency it becomes much easier and even enjoyable. I often compare it to starting a running program after not having worked out in a long time. The first time out you will barely be able to run a block, much less a mile. It is the same with meditation. At first it will be hard to even sit still much less turn your mind off. But with a shorter time frame, you realize it becomes easier starting a meditation practice.

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of meditation techniques, and you can find guided meditations through a quick search on youtube. I don’t think the method matters as much as being consistent. It really takes less time than you think. The issue is carving out 10 minutes a day (to start) and doing it.

Here’s the best first start- the simple act of sitting quietly, breathing consciously and deeply, and taking note of your thoughts:

Find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. Sit in position where you feel comfortable. This could be cross legged or sitting upright. I don’t recommend lying down, as its too easy to fall asleep.

Set the timer to a gentle ring tone on your phone for 10 minutes- longer if you are feeling ambitious. Slow your breathing and focus attention upon your breath as it enters your body. Imagine as your breath enters, it is flowing down to your lower abdomen (dantain in TCM). When you exhale, visualize a small ball of light in your dantian. Continue to visualize growing light within your dantian on each breath for the time you have set aside.

Do not worry about your mind wandering- that is to be expected. Allow the thoughts to pass your mind, just take note of what the thought is- essentially simply witness your own thoughts. The average person repeats the same thoughts over and over throughout the day. This exercise is meant in the beginning to make you aware of your internal dialogue.

As you do this over the course of a few days you will notice it becomes easier and easier to be still. and easier to calm and quite your mind. You will always have some thoughts creeping in. It is the nature of the mind to chatter constantly. But as your focus increases you will also start to notice a shift in your moods and emotions as the calming effect this has on your nervous systems reflects on your emotional health. One of the most beneficial aspects of this practice is the increased sense of happiness peace. And its free and available to anyone