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How To Meditate

May 23, 2013

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Curious about mindfulness? Wondering how to meditate?

It's a practice that can be done anywhere, at any time, and doesn't require any special equipment or clothing. 

Here's my experience and a few of my favorite resources, books and apps, to help get you started. Plus some beginner tips to jumpstart your journey.

How To Meditate A Beginner's Guide

When I wrote my original post on meditation and "me" time, I received a lot of comments (and emails and phone calls and texts!) asking if I had any more information on meditation or specific resources to share.

Apparently, lots of people are looking to relax and de-stress.

My answer was a resounding yes.

I absolutely do.

My first thought was to list a few of them Facebook.

Turns out, it is very difficult to include more than one link in a post there, so I decided to share some insight, here instead.

The most common comment I received, was that while the desire to meditate is present, sometimes the deliberate act of trying to sit still is actually quite anxiety provoking.

And I totally get that.

When I first started, I had a very tough time recreating the calm, quiet experience I had with my teacher.

Our minds are not generally quiet places, the barrage of thoughts - both good and bad- is neverending.

As we move through the busyness of daily life, they are reduced to background whispers, but when you just sit and try to empty your mind, they start to scream.

Suddenly, there is no escape from all the stuff you don't want to think about and that can be unsettling, uncomfortable and certainly not at all conducive to relaxation.

Now keep in mind, the direct goal of meditation is not relaxation.

Relaxation is a byproduct.

Pink Rose Of Sharon

The goal of most meditations is to just be and let your body return to its natural, uncomplicated, present state.

This is achieved by sitting (or laying down), focusing on your breath, using it to steady both your mind and your body, by letting your thoughts come in and out of your consciousness without engaging them.

Of course, there are different types of mediation, some with progressive muscle relaxation, guided and unguided, but this is the basic gist.

I usually picture a river, and any thoughts that pop into my head get noticed and released- floating away in the current- I just let them come and go.

The idea is that by noticing the thoughts without focusing on them, you become more comfortable with them and react less emotionally to them.

In return, your body is more fully oxygenated, blood pressure falls, the muscles relax, the mind is quiet and boom...serenity.

If done regularly, you will find that during the day, just by paying attention to your breath, you can recall that state with ease.

Life Is Only Available In The Present Moment ~Thich Nhat Hanh

So how do you get there when you cannot sit still?

Well, it took me a while, but I finally realized that the teacher's voice was what kept me on track, redirecting me to the desired behavior, reminding me to let go of my thoughts and refocus on my breath.

So I taped her and listened to the guided meditation to get me started at home.

Eventually, I was able to meditate anytime and anywhere without her guidance, but from time to time, I still enjoy following a voice.

There are so many different ones out there, some good, some great and some really, really bad, but the key is to find one that works for you.

The library has wonderful resources, so does YouTube and today there are tons of free apps to check out too.

Keep in mind that meditation is a very personal practice.

It may take some time to find your own groove.

And meditation may not be for everyone, all that sitting and focusing can be intimidating and uncomfortable for many people.

Although in theory, everything can be meditative and there are all types to try, walking meditation for example, or yoga.

For me, I often find DIY and crafts are where I'm more meditative and mindful.

However, if you are truly one of those who do not find it beneficial in any form, then, I highly recommend singing along to very loud music or a good dose of comedy inducing laughter.

Lose yourself in it.

Make your own rules.

And relax.

Meditation Resources I Love To Get You Started

Meditation Resources For Beginners

Great Books On Meditation and Mindfulness

Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn is an excellent tutorial on mindful meditation.

It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness by Sylvia Boorstein is lighter, more conversational, Erma Bombeck style.

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh - he’s a Zen Master, this one is not Erma Bombeck style. 😉

Yoga for Stress Relief with Barbara Benagh is an awesome yoga dvd with restorative poses.

The "deep rest" is an excellent meditation for relaxation...twenty minutes of progressive relaxation by some beach in Fiji.

You do not need to do the yoga to benefit from the deep rest. 

She also has another more comprehensive set now with yoga for seniors and inflexible people.

That would be me...since all my attempts at yoga are comical.

Mindfulness and Meditation Apps

Headspace - This one is my favorite, I just really like Andy's voice. I'm a sucker for an accent. It's not a free app, but they usually have coupons and you can try out if for a bit before you commit.

Calm - There's a free version of calm. You can pay and level up, but the free version offers a lot. 

Stop Breathe and Think - Again, there's a free version and there's also a YouTube channel if that's more your style.

I wish you good luck in your quest for calm and would love to know if any of this was even remotely helpful!

**Please remember, I am not an expert here, nor am I endorsing any particular service or product, I am just sharing my own personal opinion and experiences!

Also, please note that the use of the word “OM” is not necessary when meditating…it actually induces laughter in my case.

Do you meditate?
Kim Signature

Post a Comment | 14 Comments

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  1. Hi Kim! Years ago I was in an anxiety producing situation, and a friend gave me a book called "The Power of Now". Teaching to focus on NOW, rather than "what if"... It totally changed my outlook (and stress levels). Have you heard of it? I've since misplaced the book, but I often remind myself to live in the now... Hope this makes sense!

    1. Thanks Kim for the tips!

    2. Julia, I just checked my library and they have that book! I am going to read it this rainy (boo!) holiday weekend! It sounds like it would be right up my alley! I'll let you know what I think when I'm done. Thanks for sharing, I really appreciate the tip!

  2. I have actually never tried meditation but the idea of the river and watching the thoughts that pop into your head float away is amazing! I am going to have to try this to calm my days down and not have such anxiety!
    thank you Kim :D
    see you soon!

    1. It really works, Keia! The trick is finding the time to squeeze it into the day around kids, house and work! Keep me posted if you give it a try!

  3. Thank you so much for posting this! I know others asked you about it, but I'm pretty sure it was my request that made you do this.

    It's okay, you don't have to admit it.

    I have bookmarked this as a "page I must visit daily" so I can try my hand at this meditation thing. I'm actually kind of excited about it. I will keep you posted. :-)

    1. I'm glad you found it helpful and, to my knowledge, I have never been bookmarked before! Awesome! Of course the post was for you...and well, truth be told, a bit for Jerry. I may think he's creepy, but the dude looks a little uptight and I was hoping to send him a little Zen...just trying to help a fellow out ;)

  4. "I usually picture a river, and any thoughts that pop into my head get noticed and released- floating away in the current- I just let them come and go. The idea is that by noticing the thoughts without focusing on them, you become more comfortable with them and react less emotionally to them."

    Great idea about the river. Good explanation about why to let these thoughts come and go I have on rhapsody meditation genre and it is a personal choice. It's usually the speaker's voice I look towards to help me find calm. Deepak's voice is very soothing to me!

    1. I agree, the speaker's voice is the key...if it's distracting or annoying, I cannot focus! I'll have to check out Rhapsody...I just usually check the apps and the library, forgot about other places like Pandora or itunes. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Fantastic post! I meditate too and find music helps me focus. I get a bit annoyed and distracted by other people's voices so I avoid many of the meditations that have too much talking.

    Thanks for sharing these links!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  6. Thanks Natasha! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I am a fickle meditator! Sometimes I like music and voices, sometimes I like silence. I like having so many choices! :)

  7. Thanks for this! It's a good starting point! I think that's why I like yoga :). Thanks so much for sharing with us @ My favorite posts show off weekend blog party!

    The Wondering Brain

  8. I liked visiting your meditation blog. I have found a few good guided meditations on You Tube to begin. One of my posts in May features a nice 5 minute guided meditation with Deepak Chopra!

    Linda Davidson

    1. I'll check it out Linda, I like his stuff and his voice! Thanks for the tip!