"Am I doing this right?" Meditation Basics
Updated: Oct 2, 2019
If you are here reading this post, chances are you have asked the question, "Am I doing this right?" during a meditation practice or are curious to begin a practice but not sure how.
Let's start with some meditation facts:
-It is not something that can be perfected.
-It is not religious.
-You do not need a long time to try it.
-You do not need a special place or any equipment.
-You can practice alone or with others.
-It does not matter the time of day that you practice.
-There are many different forms and ways to meditate.
-You do not need to pay for a book or class to learn how.
-Once you begin to practice, it will change your life in many ways.
My meditation journey began when I was a teenager, exploring different religions and spiritualities. I bought a book with a CD on Buddhist meditations. I learned simple breathing meditations and walking meditations through this practice. My journey continued for the next twenty years with some very awesome experiences. I have meditated to a live drumming circle, singing bowls, music, silence, and have experienced guided meditations. I have learned chakra meditations, yoga meditations, Buddhist prayer meditations, mantras, Kabbalah meditations, Tarot guided journeys and have led others in meditations in person and through the free app Insight Timer. I have experienced so many different forms and can share with you that all of them lead to a good place.
Meditation helps connect you to your inner self and intuition so when choosing where to start and what to try, please use your intuition. Just pick something that looks interesting and go for it. I do have a preferred practice but I am open to new experiences. The experiences keep you fresh and in what is called the place of Beginner's Mind. Beginner's mind is the idea that in every moment of every day you are fresh. You are new and different. Each experience can be seen through this lens. Even the most experienced practitioners come from this place. So if you are truly a beginner, you are in the perfect place to begin meditation.
Back to our question: "Am I doing this right?" I believe the true goal of meditation is to be in the present moment simply breathing. But this does not have to be your goal.
Here are some questions to consider:
-Why are you trying meditation?
-What are you hoping to gain through meditation?
-How much time (realistically) each day do you have to practice?
-When would be the best time for you to practice in your schedule?
Let's look at the first two questions. You may be trying meditation for a variety of reasons but here are some benefits you may gain: deeper sleep, relaxation, focus, less anxiety, less anger, less stress, deeper breathing, a healthier body, a deeper connection to yourself/Divinity/God and a more balanced life.
As far as time and schedule, it is best if you can meditate every day. I can say from experience, that I did not really feel the benefits of meditation until I meditated daily for a full year. It is helpful if you set an alarm on your phone or use a meditation app to send you a reminder to meditate each day. I think the minimum to give each day is five minutes but if you can only do one or two, that is still better than nothing.
Here are a few tips/ideas to make it easier for you:
1. Begin with learning how to take deep slow breaths. Put your hands on your belly, fill it slowly with air then slowly release it. You can practice this 3-5 times a day before you even officially try a meditation. In fact, anytime you focus on your breathing it really is a meditation.
2. Try to practice being in the present moment. Take a deep breath and try to just be here right now. As in, not thinking about the future or what happened in the past.
3. Practice observing your thoughts. Take a moment to just observe your thoughts as if they are happening to someone else. This practice can be tricky, but it will benefit you in your meditation practice.
4. If you can, have a set place you meditate. This place will help establish a routine. Some people like to use an essential oil or an incense to add to the routine, but it is not necessary. It does not have to be anything fancy, just a place you feel comfortable.
5. Try to be comfortable while you meditate. You can sit, walk, stand or lie down. You may use a chair or a bed. I prefer to meditate after yoga, and you may also look for a time when your body feels its best. This time may be after exercise, sleep or bathing but again, it is not necessary.
6. Download some apps, check out YouTube and even get some books from the library or Libby and explore what is out there. Try different practices and styles and just stay open.
7. Do not worry if you are doing it right, rephrase that question into, "Am I trying?" "Am I being here now?" If the answer is yes, then yes, you are doing it right.
8. Be kind to yourself. Do not get upset if you forget to practice or you just can't focus. Each day is a new day. Each moment, you are new. Let mistakes go and try again.
To give one of my meditations a try, download Insight Timer: http://insig.ht/jennybell