If you have ADHD, anxiety, depression or are just easily distracted, then you are familiar with having your thoughts run out of control. The worries, the shame, the guilt, the fear, can make continuous loops in your mid. Meditation is a fabulous way to give your mind a rest and to ease your worries for a bit. With practice, you will find it easier and easier to relax into the zone. But how are you supposed to meditate when your mind is moving a million miles a minute?
The answer is, it takes practice. The first time it might not click. Your mind is like a muscle and meditation is the exercise to strengthen it. Just like your biceps, if you haven’t used them in a while, you’ll have to do some very simple, very light exercises to get started. Once you’ve done a couple of sets of light reps a day, you’re ready to add more weight. With meditation, start with what you are able to. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 1 minute. Whatever you are capable of. Once you’ve practiced for a while, you can increase your time.
Here are 6 more tips for the beginning meditator to help you get started.
1. Sit in a chair with a back. Googling the word meditation will bring you hundreds of images of yogis sitting criss-cross, in the lotus position, with straight back and hands resting on their legs. Although this may be one of your goals long-term, if you are just starting out you will want to sit in a chair with a back. Sitting criss-cross when you are still new gives you one more thing to worry about. You will be distracted by your feet, legs, and posture.
2. Take the time to get comfortable before you start. Wear comfortable clothing, unbutton tight pants, loosen your tie. If your socks have a seam that touch your pinky toe take them off before you start.
3. Uncross everything. It’s not something that you’ll notice right at first, but as your meditation goes on, your crossed arms, ankles or legs will begin to annoy you.
4. Hold something with a pleasant texture. Mala beads, prayer beads, rosary beads, a smooth rock. When your mind begins to wander off a physical object to rub or fiddle with can bring your mind back to the present.
5. Find relaxing music with no words. There are countless stations on pandora, songza, or itunes podcasts that you can tune into. The music will keep you from being distracted by talking or noises around you.
6. If you have an itch, itch it. If you are uncomfortable, move. There is no rule that says that you are not allowed to move your body when you meditate. If your leg is falling asleep, stretch it out in front of you. If a strand of hair has somehow crept into your eye, ear or nose, go ahead and remove it. If you don’t, if you are anything like me, you will spend the rest of your meditation thinking about how annoying that itch is. Fix the discomfort and go back to your meditation.
Join me on Tuesdays at Kailua Beach Park for some fun beginner’s meditation practice with friends! We meet in the large field across the driveway from the kite surfing area of the beach. Give a call if you can’t find us. There is a suggested 10 dollar payment, but come whether you have it or not, no one is turned away.
Mary Preston, LMFT