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Practice Makes Zen: Meditation for Beginners

When someone mentions meditation, is your response, “Oh I wish I could meditate, but I can’t clear my mind” or “I’ve tried and I’m terrible at it”? We’ve all been there. Sometimes sitting still and not thinking about a million things can feel impossible. Meditation, like anything else, is a skill. The more you practice, the better you will become at progressing to a tranquil state. With enough practice, you will be able to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and be in a meditative space within seconds.

Here are some helpful tips for beginners to get acquainted with meditation, and for the masters, some back to basics refreshers:

  1. Find a comfortable position. Sitting with either your legs folded, feet planted on the ground, or laying down is a good place to start. An area indoors or out, where you can be comfortable closing your eyes is best. Pick an optimal space where you will not be disturbed.

  2. Breathe. The key to any meditation practice is within the breathing. Simply focusing on your breath is a sure fire way to clear your mind from all the chaos. Concentrate on the way the cool air feels entering your nose, feel it filling your abdomen and lungs, and then feel the warmth of the air as it exits your mouth. Deep breathing is a great tool as well. Breathe into your belly first, filling it with air. Then filling the lungs with air before exhaling the air from the belly first and then the lungs. Try this lying down with one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. This is called diaphragmatic breathing and it allows a deeper breath in, which is not only relaxing, but also massages the internal organs. Some breathing techniques involve counting along with the breath and holding it between breaths. For example breathe for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, and release for the count of 4. Not only will you be focused on your breathing (instead of the 8 million other thoughts in your head), but you will certainly feel relaxed.

  3. Listen to Music. Music and sounds can evoke an abundance of feelings. Soft relaxing music can be a huge help when meditating. There is music created specifically for meditating, which uses different frequencies to trigger different reactions within our ethereal bodies. Crystal singing bowls, chimes, gongs, and tuning forks are great tools. Chanting, or singing a mantra over and over again are also excellent methods. Sometimes ambient sounds are enough, like a ceiling fan, water fountain, or fireplace crackling. Soothing sounds will help you to relax and calm your mind. Below is a provided link to an Om chanting meditation:

  4. Find a focal point. Having something to physically focus on, allows our minds to stay still. Indoors? Try using a lit candle and watch the flames dance around. Outdoors? Water can be a powerful calming tool. The ocean waves are incredibly soothing to watch, or even just a pond with fish swimming in it. Rain falling and splashing off puddles or cloud watching can be a useful focal point. Relax your gaze and stare away!

  5. Repeat. Practice makes… better; nothing can be perfect. Continue this repetition even if it is only for a minute or two per day and work yourself up to longer minutes. Soon, you will be able to drop into a meditative state anywhere at anytime. This can help tremendously in times of stress. Just remember to breathe!

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