Meditation 101 – How To Meditate (For Complete Beginners!)
No matter how advanced their physical practice, many yoga students will still ask for tips on how to meditate. As meditation forms a very important basis and builds a solid foundation for your yoga practice, it’s an important element of almost every class.
Depending on the teacher, meditation in a general yoga class can last up to 10 or 15 minutes at the beginning or end of practice. It’s not unusual for new students to find this silent, reflective time more challenging than the rest of the physical asana practice.
For this reason, I thought this blog post should focus on explaining some key points for those who wish to begin exploring how to meditate. In the hopes that the next time you find yourself in class and are instructed simply to ‘meditate’, it might not seem so daunting – take a read of the hints below!
1. Find Your WHY
WHY do you want to learn how to meditate? Is it to calm racing thoughts? To decrease anxiety? To help you focus more? Or maybe you’re just doing it because someone has told you you should.
Meditation is an intensely personal practice, and because of this it’s difficult for any teacher to find out exactly how it can benefit each student individually. By deciding to learn how to meditate you’ve already acknowledged that it might be beneficial – but I urge you to dig a little bit deeper to find out WHY you think this is.
Consider what areas of your life could benefit from receiving a little more directed energy and focus. Learning how to meditate can help with directing intentions and allowing energy to flow in their direction, so take a little while before your next session to consider your motivations.
2. Start With Your Breath
A simple breath meditation is the best way to start practicing to draw your awareness into the present moment. Begin by finding a comfortable seat. Close your eyes, and without forcing or straining anything, focus all of your awareness on your inhale. Similarly, on the exhale, notice as all of the muscles around the chest and lungs disengage to allow the breath to flow outwards. Follow the steady flow in and out mindfully for a few minutes, and if it helps to do so to a count, you can try breathing in for 4, out for 4, then in for 5, out for 5, etc, etc…
3. Allow the Resistance
By now you might be feeling a little bit restless – whether it’s mentally or physically, the first few minutes are the toughest to remain still. Know that resistance is normal when you learn how to meditate. Notice when, where, and more importantly WHY you might be experiencing this resistance, and then just as simply as it came into your mind – try and let it go out.
4. Find a Style You Like
After breath meditation, some guided meditations are a good idea to help you start getting used to sitting for longer periods of time. There are plenty available online and on Youtube, and for anyone who experiences difficulty sleeping they can be especially helpful in helping your mind quieten down enough to get some rest.
Don’t stop there, though!
In a similar vein to yoga, different meditation styles and teachers will appeal to some people more than others. Don’t lose heart if you don’t feel a connection immediately – keep an open mind. Trust that figuring out how to meditate is a different process for everybody, and eventually you’ll find a way that works for you. This is why meditation is such a powerful tool -it helps us create self-awareness and get to know ourselves that little bit more.
5. Be Consistent.
Last but not least, for anyone who wants to properly learn how to meditate, I encourage you to just be consistent. As with anything – practice, practice, practice. Alternate nostril breathing or ‘Equalizer Breath’ (equal counts on both inhale and exhale) are both great places to start. Even if it’s for 5 minutes a day. If you slowly build on the duration, you will start to experience the confidence and awareness it will cultivate. Next time you try, you might be inspired to try sitting for longer periods of time.
Again, don’t get disheartened if one day you sit for 30 minutes, and another for 10 – there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ meditation!
Our teachers are available for private meditation sessions and we offer a free meditation every Tuesday evening at 6.30pm! Our yoga teacher trainings also delve deeper into the practice of meditation. There are still spaces left for some in 2018 – see more about them at this link!