MEDITATION FOR BEGINNERS
my experience with meditation
The first time I ever tried meditating was five years ago in a human kinetics course I took back in university. I remember we all had to sit up straight in our chairs, stay still, shut our eyes and listen to tranquil music. That was meditation. There was hardly anything explained besides the basic benefits and there was nothing personable connecting me to the practice. So inevitably, after the practice was over I thought to myself, I just don’t get it? I felt no different and I was probably thinking about what I was having for dinner the entire time.
It wasn't until about a year ago, when I was facing some serious mental health issues that I felt drawn to start meditating. I had put myself in a predicament where I either learnt how to control my breath or I let anxiety wash over me daily. So for me, meditation was definitely a last resort. I didn’t know what else I could do to stop the pains in my chest or my mind from racing a mile a minute.
From just practicing in this short amount of time, I believe that meditation can be such a powerful tool to help you come to grips with your mental health and help you slow down to regain control of your thoughts. I also believe that you don’t need to be in a reckless state to start practicing either.
Way back when in that course, I truly wish someone would have just made a more personable connection to the practice for me to better understand the real purpose. I wish I knew sooner that it could help with more than just stress relief. The reality is that meditation can be used as a tool to help with all sorts of things. To help you think more creativity, increase your happiness, help decrease depression, control your anxiety, improve your memory, gain clarity, help you fall asleep at night or to simply relax after a long day. The list goes on!
Based on my experience, the first step to getting into a meditation practice is to find a guided meditation that you personally resonate with to get started. Think about what you struggle with and what you want to strengthen. There are so many guided meditations out there that are tailored to every need. For me, it was anxiety, self-love, mindfulness, and sleep.
Initially, I was recommended the Calm app by my doctor for the sleep stories. I desperately needed to figure out a way to slow down my excessive thinking before falling asleep. It would keep me up for hours! To my surprise, sleep stories are extremely effective to relax your mind and breath before sleeping.
Next, I started working with a happiness mentor. My mentor had created her own series of meditations, all of which spoke to different issues I was facing. Calming anxiety, self-love, mindfulness and again, sleep. I used her meditations at least once a day for an entire month and noticed that not only did a feel calmer, I felt energized and very creative and productive.
In terms of body positioning, it’s important that you do what is most comfortable starting out. I personally like to lie down on my back, both my arms down by my side, palms facing up with my eyes shut. Here is a great article explaining different meditation postures to try.
In addition to apps and audio recordings, I’ve experimented with different meditation studios here in Toronto. I’ve tried the fundamentals class with Good Space and Yoga Nidra with a good friend Jacklyn at 889 Yoga. I highly recommend that you take a meditation class with a certified teacher to broaden your knowledge of the practice. It’s a great space to feel safe around other beginners and ask questions. Going to these classes I’ve learned many that minutes of meditation can be equivalent to hours of sleep (thanks Jacklyn), that it’s absolutely fine to drift off into your own thoughts so long as you gently guide them back, and that there is no right or wrong way to meditate.
Everyone’s mind works differently, making meditation a very personal practice. So as a beginner experiment as much as you can, stop thinking that you are doing it wrong because there is no right way and please know that your mind can never be too busy to practice. My final words of advice are to just be open to trying new things and give it a shot!
Are you a beginner? What are your thoughts on meditation?