Throughout my life, several people in my life have told me that I “would love meditation.” They told me how good it could be for me, how it will help me reduce my stress, help me fall asleep, and help me become a more grounded, complete human being. However, despite the rave reviews, I never seemed to understand where I start. What is meditation, exactly? How will I know if I’m doing it correctly? How will I know if it is working? Those were some of the questions I asked myself before I started meditating. And these are the question I’ll attempt to answer for you today.
Like with sports, there are different types of meditation. For this article, we’re going to focus mostly on mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is the heart of many different types of meditation. Mindfulness is accessible to beginners and is the type of meditation I personally use. Chances are, if you’re interested in developing a meditation practice to support your mental health, the type of meditation you’re thinking of is mindfulness meditation. Like meditation, there’s no single universal definition of mindfulness, but experts generally agree on the gist: focusing on the present moment. Mindfulness is about being fully present without worrying about the future or the past.
When I imagined meditation, I didn’t know what to expect. See, people often imagine there are a lot of rules around how to meditate properly, but meditation is more flexible and personalized. You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor. You don’t have to do it for hours. As mentioned, meditation is flexible – you can do it while sitting on a chair while lying down, you can do it for only a few minutes. Sit somewhere where there will be no distractions or disturbance, don’t let your mind wander off, focus on your breathing. Even five minutes a day is enough. It may sound too easy, but that might be all you need to incorporate a fulfilling meditation routine into your life. Despite how simple the above example sounds, a lot of people understandably find it difficult to do on their own without getting bored or restless. That’s where guided meditations come in. On top of gently easing you into meditating, guided meditations will also introduce you to a variety of specific meditations beyond focusing on your breath, such as loving-kindness or body scan meditations.
If you may fear you are doing it wrong, don’t. There is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in meditation. The only thing that you need to do is make an effort. It’s important not to overthink this, however. Don’t use meditation for another thing that is wrong with you, don’t be judgmental, it’s a process. And its results won’t necessarily show. To determine whether or not meditation is working for you, check in with yourself after trying it for a while. Investigate your feelings and ask yourself what are its benefits. All that said, though, if it’s not for you, it’s not for you. Mindfulness meditation has been pushed as some universal habit that everyone will benefit from, and so it’s easy to blame yourself if you’re not feeling it. Let go of those expectations. Give it a few weeks – it’s worth the shot.