Have you been telling yourself for ages that you'll start meditating but are unsure how to get started?
I feel you!
The hardest part about developing a new healthy habit is getting started. But meditating is not as complex or challenging as you think.
To begin a meditation practice, all you need is yourself, 5 minutes, and a little discipline. Here are my top tips on how to get started today.
1. Start Small
The biggest mistake people make when they begin a meditation practice is they try to go "all in." They tell themselves, tomorrow, I will sit down and meditate for an hour.
Well, do you know what happens? The thought of meditating for an hour is so overwhelming that they quickly talk themselves out of it, meaning they don't even start the practice.
When building a new habit, the key to success is to start small. For example, if you decide to meditate for five minutes, you're much more likely to show up for it because it seems doable. We think, "no matter how difficult it is, I can surely do five minutes."
Moreover, when you start small, you don't have to carve out a large part of your already busy day for your new practice. It's super simple to fit in a five-minute meditation practice in the morning or evening.
Of course, once your meditation habit starts to stick, you can slowly increase the duration.
2. Follow Guided Practices
While meditating can be as simple as focusing on your breathing, it's still challenging to do it as a first-timer. Thus, I recommend you start by following guided meditations aimed at beginners. You'll find tons of these on Youtube or on one of the many meditation apps like Calm, Headspace, or Insight Timer.
By doing guided practices, you'll also get to try out different meditation techniques and find the one that most resonates with you.
3. Schedule It In
Even if you start with a 5-minute practice, scheduling it into your day is still crucial. If you use any time management tools (either digitally or manually), be sure to add your new daily practice to it.
Once it's on the calendar, you'll be much more likely to follow through with it. As an additional tip, I suggest meditating at the same time each day. Along with it integrating better into your day-to-day schedule, this will help it cement into your brain and successfully become a new habit.
4. Create A Calming Meditation Space
While experienced meditators can meditate anywhere (including on a packed train), it's wise to remove as many distractions as possible when you're starting out. The best way to do this is to create a "meditation corner" in your home.
Your meditation space should be in a quiet spot, not in the kitchen or lounge where your family is busy getting ready for work. Make it as cozy and sacred as possible with cushions, a blanket, and some candles. I also find lighting incense before meditating helps to clear and focus my mind.
You can also play some calming music, especially if there is background noise that could distract you. And of course, the most important thing, leave your phone in a different room!
5. Check Your Posture
Many people tell me they tried meditating but couldn't sit still for long due to pain and tension in their bodies. However, you don't have to be able to do the famous but advanced Lotus Pose to meditate.
If you find sitting cross-legged pulls on your back or hurts your knees, there are various things you can do. Firstly, make sure you are sitting with a straight spine rather than slouching forwards.
Incorrect posture stresses our musculoskeletal system, which can cause strain in the hips, shoulders, neck, back, or torso. So the tension you feel may be eradicated simply by sitting up straight.
If you still have pain, sit on a pillow or cushion. Elevating the hips takes the pressure off the spine and hip and knee joints and allows the muscles to relax.
However, a cross-legged position doesn't work for everyone. Know that it's OK to meditate with your legs extended (and back against the wall) or sit on a chair if needed.
When starting a meditation practice for the first time, you can feel like there are many roadblocks. However, following these tips will reduce distraction, overwhelm, physical tension, and anything else stopping you from experiencing inner peace.