“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”Nelson Mandela
Almost daily, we get the question “How do I meditate?” or “Where should I start with my practice?” in our online community about meditation & mindfulness. We’ve created an easy and accessible way for you to start with your meditation practice. It involves 9 steps. In these 9 steps, we explain where to start, what you’ll need and what to do. Plain, clear and simple. This is the beginning of your journey on the path of training your mind. Let’s get going!
9 simple steps to start your meditation practice
1. Pick a space
First things first. Make sure your environment is allowing you to take this time for yourself. In a noisy environment it will be hard to start your practice. Make sure you can be in a space for a certain amount of time without others disturbing you. It doesn’t need to be complicated, you can pick a space in your room to dedicate for this. Simply tell your loved ones you don’t want to be disturbed for 5 minutes and put your beloved pet into another room. The quieter the better.
2. Find a seat
Next, let’s make sure we have a comfortable place to sit. Take off your shoes and put on something comfortable. Use a pillow, cushion, a chair or a knee bench to sit on. Make sure this is comfortable to sit on, yet also make sure your spine is erect. Posture is very important, because it signals your body what to do. A straight posture will signal your body to be aware. However, don’t stretch yourself, do what is physically possible for you.
3. Set a time
Decide how long you want to meditate for. This is important to do, setting the intention for your practice. We recommend starting with as little as 5 minutes. It is better to start low and later on add time, then to quit earlier because you’ve made it too hard for yourself. Stick to the time you set. Don’t just give up because you feel it isn’t working. It takes time to train yourself. Set the timer on your phone, put it on silent and put it away. You are ready to begin this journey.
Time to prepare your body and mind to meditate. Take 8 deep breaths. 4 seconds in through the nose, 8 seconds out through the mouth. The numbers aren’t important, just make sure you keep it at a 2-to-1 ratio. A longer exhale than inhale will signal to your body that it can relax. This is a great way to release tension and settle in to your meditation practice. No need to rush, take the time to do this mindfully.
Close your eyes and return to your regular breathing pattern. Whatever pace feels natural to you. This means that for now you don’t have to pay attention to the counting. Let the breath simply run it’s natural course. This prepares you for the next step in meditation practice.
Here we start with a technique called ‘noting’. We note every in breath and every out breath. This can simply be done by thinking “in” when you breathe in, and thinking “out” when you breathe out. Do this for a time and you will notice the mind begins to settle down. If you become agitated or annoyed, make sure you are comfortable, don’t force yourself in breathing patterns & simply bring your attention back to the noting. With patience and persistence we can establish your meditation practice.
Now it is time to direct your attention to the sensation of air, flowing in and out of your nostrils. Be aware of the sensation of your in breath and out breath on your nostrils. If you find this hard to do, simply direct your attention to the rising and falling of your belly. With every breath you feel the sensation of your breathing in these parts of your body. Let your full awareness be in this meditation practice.
Don’t worry, your mind will begin to wander off. It will start to think about things you need to do, things someone said to you that day or the fact that you haven’t called your mom in a while now. It is normal for your mind to drift off, this does not mean you fail. Returning from wandering off to your meditation practice is you building up focus. It is you training your awareness to be directed. Remember to be gentle with yourself. It takes time and persistence. Gently direct your attention back to your breath. Simply notice your thoughts, become aware of them and return to the method.
The timer goes off. You might feel refreshed or actually tired. Congratulations, you’ve done your first meditation session!
This is the beginning of your journey. To make it work, schedule a time you want to dedicate to practice. Make it part of your every day routine. Pick a time of day that works for you and commit to doing it at or around this time. We recommend somewhere in the morning or evening, just after you wake up or before you go to bed. If you meditate daily, you’ll experience its benefits more profoundly.
Connect with others
Those are out recommendations for you to get started. Easy and simple, yet it will take time and persistence to make it a daily habit. We’d love to help you. We are an online community about meditation & mindfulness with over 2500 members and daily events. If you want to connect with others who are meditating or simply would like support, join us here: https://discord.gg/FKWFeYq
We have a special buddy program, where more experience meditators can help you develop your meditation practice. Besides this we have group meditations (guided meditations), a book club & study group and much more on the subject of meditation & mindfulness. We’d love to see you there!
If you’d like to dig deeper into meditation and learn more about its principles, we have a free course on achieving access concentration. This course explains to you in 20-days how to continue with noting, access concentration and the groundwork behind practice. It provides a framework to your practice and contains free guided meditations.