Mediation can be hard and annoying. Sitting still feels impossible when there’s always something to do next. The point of meditation is to give time to what is happening now, so that we can do what comes next with more purpose, calmness, and effectiveness
Maybe you're just learning to meditate and have no clue how to manage your thoughts: should I think or not think?
Maybe you’ve been meditating a long time and can use this list of tips to see how to deepen your current practise. Or maybe you’ve meditated before but stopped because it became difficult. These tips can help you get back on track.
From years of meditating I’ve learned that each meditation session is different than the last: no matter how long you've been meditating. The initial 5 minutes are about reframing the mind and choosing the direction you need to go to benefit from each session. Understanding the mind and knowing how to get what you need from your meditation practise comes through engagement. These tips will help you, but you will get more out of your practise if you do it often and focus on learning what helps YOU on an individual, personal level.
1. Release Expectation
Placing unrealistic expectations on your meditation practise can lead you astray from what can rise up naturally. You may have had incredible breakthroughs in the past and expect to have this euphoric sensation every time. This is not the case. Meditation teaches us to be accepting of what is without trying to change it and without searching for the next good feeling.
Conversely, if you've had a hard time with meditation, you may expect each session to be difficult. Its important to enter in to each session without attachment to an outcome.
When we expect things to go a certain way, we actually place limits and bounds on what we can experience. An important factor of meditation is to allow what will be, be.
2. Remove All Distraction
If you know you’ll get distracted by your phone, then don’t use a meditation app. Consider leaving your phone in a different room or putting it on silent if it becomes an issue. If you like to listen to music while you meditate, try using bluetooth headphones so you can still keep your phone away from you. There are also meditation apps that will stop if you exit them from your phone.
If having your hair in your face bothers you, consider tying your hair up before you start. Wear clothing you feel comfortable in so you don't fix it. And choose a position that you can feel comfortable in so you don't move too much.
Fidgeting is the ego trying to avert our attention.
Fidgeting usually happens without us being aware of it. Something as simple as tucking your hair behind your ear or scratching your nose can be an indication that your ego doesn't want you to go this deep within.
If you have a hard time concentrating and you know you need to fidget, try playing with meditative beads in your hand as you say a mantra for each bead.
3. Effortless Ease
Remember that the stillness you seek is easy. It's not something you need to acquire or force. If it's natural for your mind to wander, follow that. Go with the flow.
Effortless ease is the path of least resistance. It may sound silly, but don't resist your resistance. It's natural to feel discomfort when starting a meditation practise. Remember that it doesn't require any actual effort.
There is nothing you have to do, but rather the end of doing (if for only a moment).
If it takes more effort to stop your thoughts, let them go.
If it takes more effort to try to think of something, allow the space and quiet in your mind.
Eventually this stillness will come naturally and you will get better at achieving this inner state the more you practise.
4. Listen to Your Thoughts
We experience life between our meditation sessions. New experiences bring about new emotion, thought, and state of mind. Emotions that are uncomfortable to feel can arise.
Do not try to ignore or push away intense emotion.
If you feel triggered or emotional, meditation can help alleviate these feelings overtime. These emotions are coming up because you need to deal with them. If this is the case, its important to create a safe space to meditate in (both physically and emotionally) to allow yourself to feel what your feeling without trying to change it.
Your thoughts and emotions are trying to tell you something. The minute you learn something from what you're feeling, the less intense the emotion will be. You can then use what you've learned in your practise and apply it to real life situation.
Meditation does not have to be about quieting the mind. Ignoring your emotions can harm your mental health.
Remember that meditation is about strengthening your ability to calm yourself when things get hard. Sit with it and allow healing to happen as it will.
5. Keep a Meditation Journal
If you're a fidgeter, or if you feel overwhelmed with fast paced thought, consider keeping a journal beside you. While you meditate, write down what's distracting you. Try to only write a sentence or two and then come back to your breath to regain concentration on the present moment and the sensations within your body.
If you feel like there's a lot going on in your mind, you may want to write a page of journaling before you meditate for a smoother session.
You can record your thoughts before, during, and after meditating to track progress and breakthroughs.
Use this worksheet to help you.
6. Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable
When first starting a meditation practise, sitting with your thoughts can be very uncomfortable. This doesn’t mean your doing it wrong. In fact your progressing.
The purpose of meditation is to learn strategies to venture deeper into the self.
Work to calm your mind with relaxing phrases to help ease you into exploring difficult emotion
Eventually the uncomfortable will become a bit more comfortable. Focus on relaxing into this moment no matter what this moment is.
7. Set an Intention
Think of what you want out of this meditation before you start. It can be a word or phrase to meditate on. Use this intention as a compass during your meditation.
I am still.
I surrender to the ease and flow.
I am cultivating a state of inner peace.
My mind is my home.
I accept the present moment as is.
8. Talk to Yourself
For some of us, there is a constant dialogue that happens in our minds without our attention. if you've been meditating for some time, you might be familiar and aware of this ongoing conversation.
Explore what it feels like to participate fully in this dialogue (as you sit in stillness and quiet).
Don’t be afraid to go inside and really figure out why you feel any mental tension. Have a conversation with yourself about how you're feeling.
If you feel you can't heal uncomfortable thought in this session, talk about how you feel about the complex emotions you may be experiencing.
Play around with this idea and see what comes up.
9. Ask Questions
Before you meditate, you can choose a question you would like to answer during the session. This will spark your intuition and help guide the essence of the session.
You can also ask questions during the meditation. However, be aware of attachment to immediate answers or results. The Universe works on it's own schedule.
Questions to ask include:
What am I resisting?
What is preventing me from relaxing into the present moment?
What do I need to know in this moment?
What is the Universe trying to tell me?
What do I want to tell the Universe?
What do I need help with?
What is the next step I need to take?
What is the solution to (x problem)?
Whats the best way to approach (x problem)?
How can I create a safe space within myself?
10. Remember: This is YOUR Time
You don't have to go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. There is no expectations you need to live up to, no role you need to play.
This is YOUR time to sit, to think, to breathe.
You can do whatever you need to do to relax your mind and cultivate a sense of inner peace.
Show appreciation for this moment. Be grateful that you can give yourself your undivided attention in this moment.
Even though it can be really hard sometimes to be alone with yourself, it’s your job to persevere on your journey to creating a safe space within that you can go back to for rest and renewal. You will get more out of your meditation practise if you seek out new ways to get into this state of inner safety even if only for short amount of time each session. It only takes a moment of this state to teach your body what it feels like to refer back to in the next session.