Meditation is intimidating to some because they do not know where to begin. Often, people think that if they cannot clear their mind entirely of thoughts, they are not able to meditate. This is not true! Meditation involves the calming of the mind, yes. But changing how you react to the thoughts that you do have is a form of meditation as well. Here, we will discuss how to meditate at home for those of you who need a place to start.
What is Meditation?
Meditation can involve clearing your mind of thoughts. If you are able to silence the inner voice that is going in your head, you are very lucky. Most of us always have a voice in our heads, though, that is constantly talking to us about what we should, could, or would have done in our lives. If you are able, you can start by softening the voice in your head. Try and lower the volume of it if it is possible. This will give you a chance to experience life outside of what you are hearing internally.
Another option is to respond to the thoughts non-judgmentally. You can observe that you are thinking without reacting to each thought that you have. Notice what is happening in your mind. You might be worried, sad, or afraid of something. There is nothing wrong with you that this is happening! It means that you are human. However, figuring out that the voice inside your head is not you can be empowering. You do not have to identify with each thought that you have. Further, having a thought does not mean that it is true. To realize this is the true power of meditation.
Setting Up Your Environment
Before you start your meditation practice, you can set a timer. For starters, you can set it for five minutes. You can set this timer on your phone, a watch, or your kitchen stove. As well, I like to do some light stretches before I meditate. I hold some tension in my shoulders, so I use my hands to give myself a small massage. I stretch my arms and legs to make sure that my blood is flowing comfortably. Massaging my temples also feels nice.
It is up to you whether you want the lighting or smell in your meditation space to be different. I like using tea tree oil on my shoulders and neck so that I smell it while I am meditating. This is the most relaxing smell for me personally. I like when it is dark at times during meditation. For this, I will use a scarf or mask to cover my eyes. If I am pleased with the lighting in my space, I might light a candle that is not directly in my line of vision.
Beginning the Practice
Get into a comfortable position. The main position that we see meditators in is sitting upright on a pillow or a cushion. This is not the way that you have to practice though. You can lie down or sit up – whatever is most comfortable. You can even use a blanket to get cozy and comfortable! There are no rules to the way that your body has to be.
Next, start focusing on your breath. You breathe in and out automatically. Because of this, we do not often pay any attention to it. Feel your breath entering your lungs and exiting your body. First, notice what the breath does on its own. Then, try and stretch each part of the breathing process a second or two longer. Inhale for an extra second, hold if you choose to, and then exhale a little bit longer than your natural breath. Repeat this process and notice your body calming down.
If you have thoughts while you are focusing on your breath, this is okay. Just observe them. You don’t have to attack yourself or change them. You can just realize that they are there. You do not have to take action on them right now. Just gently shift your focus back to your breath.
Use kind and loving language to yourself. Treat your mind like you would a child. Children don’t know any better, and they do a lot of things that aren’t in their best interest. You would not attack a child for doing this.
Reach out to your mind in understanding that it is likely afraid and doing what it thinks will protect or help you.
Compassion and kindness are key in the meditative process. It is of no use to berate yourself for not engaging in meditation in a perfect way.
It is a practice, and it will always be that. What works for you now might not work for you in five years, and this is okay. Be patient with yourself because you are learning. None of us come to Earth with an instruction manual. We are doing the best we can with what we have, so we should respect ourselves each day for trying.
You can meditate on your couch, in your bed, or in another area of your home that you prefer. I sometimes like to grab a bunch of pillows and pile them in a corner and lay down there. I also have recently tried outdoor meditation, and I loved it! Being able to sit in nature while reflecting on my connection with it has done wonders for my mood and self-concept. Experiment with different places. You can even change your location each time you meditate!
My favorite type of meditation is mindfulness meditation. That is where I am constantly coming back and focusing on the present moment. There are many other types that you can try! You can do an internet search for guided meditations. Someone else would be leading you through the process so that you do not have to worry about it on your own. Guided visualizations are similar, but the speaker is giving you a topic, subject, or image to hold in your mind’s eye. This can be useful before an important event or a high-stakes engagement. Your anxiety is likely to decrease due to this process.
My friends give me books as gifts that have guided meditations in them. I can record myself saying them so that I am not reading and trying to meditate at the same time. You can also ask a friend, family member, or loved one to read the meditation for you! Hearing the voice of a loved one might help you to relax more. There are also sites that let you customize how you want to breathe. You can set the inhale time for a certain amount of seconds and same for the exhale. The site will play a sound that reminds you to inhale and a different sound so that you know when to exhale.
What Does Meditation Feel Like?
While you are meditating, you are likely to feel that your body becomes more relaxed. Also, you should notice that you are being more patient with your mind. You will know that the meditation is “working” when you are not judging yourself and you are letting yourself exist as you actually are. Whatever thoughts come up, you are not judging them. You are simply having a human experience and it is no cause for stress or frustration.
Your thoughts for others will tend to become more loving and compassionate. Instead of rushing to judgment, you will honor the beings around you and know where they are on their journey of life. You will gain understanding about others in a way that you did not have before. They might even pick up on your more relaxed state and ask you for pointers! Conflicts will not have the room to escalate in the way they used to because you are not as much of a contributing party as you might have been before.
Continuing the Practice
Over time, you will find that you can meditate for longer periods of time. You might realize that you like to have sounds in the background. Some people use white noise for their meditations. I like to have a spa, nature-like sound playing in the background. Additionally, I like to incorporate a mindfulness bell. Mindfulness bells serve the purpose of bringing you back to the present moment. It reminds you to check in with yourself – no matter what is going on – and focus again on the present moment.
You can set a mindfulness bell at intervals. They can range from one minute to thirty minutes. When I am extremely anxious, I like to set my bells to go off each minute. I know my mind is going to wander off into many different directions, and I will need something to keep me grounded. The bell brings me back and also lets me know how anxious I actually am. Mental health is important to me, and being able to have a benchmark for how fast my mind is moving helps me communicate concerns to others if necessary.
When I am in a more relaxed state, I set them for each five to ten minutes apart. Here, I know that I will control my mind at an easier pace and I will not need as many reminders. This is something that you can experiment with. You do not have to stick with the same bell schedule. You might find that you don’t need them at all! If this is something that interest you, you can download apps that keep track of time for you and play bells for you so that you can direct your attention to your practice.
When the bell goes off, I check in with myself (as stated before). What this means for me is that I notice if my mind has wandered down the proverbial rabbit hole regarding an anxiety or stressor I have. If I have gotten caught up in my thoughts, the bell reminds me to come back so that my body and mind are again in the same space. If the bell goes off and my mind was not wandering, I give myself a mental high-five! This is always a fun time for me. I congratulate myself for staying in the present moment, and I repeat this process over and over.
Meditation is a fun process that can help you learn more about yourself. Associating your home with calming experiences is also something that can benefit us all. It is healthy to find a space in your home where you can find peace and quiet. It is something that you might include others in on one day! For now, explore what makes you feel the most grounded and comfortable. After all, this is the main area that we are trying to adjust. Remove barriers of expectation or outcome and focus on the breath. Repeat this process again and again until you find that you are always mentally in the now.
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