Meditation Series // A Beginner’s Guide

Busy has been glamorized. We all want to be busy. We tell our friends about how busy we are. We complain about how busy we are. When someone asks “how’s it going?” we often respond with “oh you know… busy.” We have allowed the concept of BUSY to consume our lives. And I am just as guilty of it as you are.

Here’s the thing with “busy.” Busy can be good. If you are spending your time pouring your soul into your passions, connecting with loved ones and learning from the world, your schedule may be filled, but not in a bad way. It is critical to monitor the amount of craze in your life. Check in with yourself to see if the busy is becoming too much; if you don’t feel that you are taking care of yourself any more, or if you feel that you may be letting other important things slide out of your life. Don’t simply let the concept of busy become all-consuming. Think about how all those agenda items are bringing meaning to your life and allowing you to positively impact the world in return.

As someone who is admittedly a “busy woman,” I have often tried to talk myself into pulling back from things to quiet my life. But you know what? My life didn’t feel as vibrant in those times. I craved more interaction, excitement and connection in my life. I have come to accept that I am an extrovert who will probably always have a fairly full schedule. And that’s ok. We all need to accept our tendencies in life and respect those of others around us.

Part of my self acceptance in realizing my tendencies, was also understanding that I needed to force some meditative time into my day to quiet my mind. Whether an extrovert or an introvert, someone with a blacked out schedule or a completely white calendar, meditation has the power to allow you to focus, breathe and center your energy on the task at hand, throughout your day. And if the concept of meditation sounds woo woo to you. Try “mindfulness.” When you miss a call from your friend because you were meditating, try “Sorry for missing you… I was working on my mindfulness.” 😉

Many of us understand the concept of meditation, but don’t know how to actually implement it into our daily lives, so after years of playing with different techniques and nerding out on top mindfulness tactics, I wanted to share some thoughts. Over the course of the next few weeks I will be sharing what has worked for me, in hopes that some of these approaches will work for you too! Let’s dive in!

We’re starting beginner style, with the basics. And the good news is that meditating is so deeply simplistic and fundamental that it really won’t get all that complex from here!

  1. Find a spot in your home that is comfortable. Have a blanket nearby in case you need to adjust your body temp.
  2. Decide if you want to sit cross-legged or lay down. I encourage trying both to see what feels best for you. *Note: if you fall asleep while meditating on your back, that is a great sign you should try sitting up 😉
  3. Set a timer for 10 minutes on your phone.
  4. Relax into your laying or seated position and allow yourself to notice how your body feels. Is there tightness in your jaw? Are you clenching your toes? Start at the top of your head, and imagine a bright white light washing over every inch of your body. As it disperses from the crown of your head down, each muscle relaxes as it is passed by the warm, white light.
  5. Allow yourself to shift, scratch and sneeze as your body relaxes. There is a common misconception that the instant you start meditating, you can’t move, but who made those rules anyway?! Allow yourself to find comfort in your space. If that takes 5 minutes, that’s ok!
  6. Once you are comfortable and have calmed your fidgeting, you will likely begin to feel thoughts spill into your mind about anything and everything. Start by imagining a chalkboard filling up with all your thoughts. As the chalkboard fills and your thoughts slow, a large eraser takes big sweeps across the chalk letters, clearing your thoughts. Focus on the broad sweeping motions of the eraser, releasing you from your stream of consciousness.
  7. As your mind begins to quiet, focus on your breath. Deep inhales and full exhales. If it helps to keep your mind clear by focusing even further on your breath, try counting in for 1-2-3-4 and out for 1-2-3-4.
  8. As thoughts drift back into your mind, imagine them coming into your clear view, recognizing the thought, then letting it drift away on a cloud. BIG TIP… getting frustrated with yourself for having thoughts flow in while you are trying to clear your mind will make the matter worse. Acknowledge the thought and set it free in a calm manner, rather than a forced, anxious propulsion of the thought out of your mind.
  9. As your mind calms, you will notice a blissful space of openness that begins to consume your mind, rather than poignant messages about what you want to eat for dinner or how you forgot to do something earlier. Embrace this space.
  10. When your alarm goes off, if you feel that you are deep in the middle of a beautiful meditation, don’t be afraid to add another 5 or 10 minutes. You will know that you’ve gotten the hang of this mediation thing, the first time you are excited to extend the length of your alarm 🙂

Give yourself the grace to make mistakes when you first start meditating. I guarantee there will be some sessions where your alarm goes off and you realize your mind wasn’t quiet for a single second and that’s absolutely A-ok. Like anything worth having in life, it takes practice. It may take 2 weeks and it may take 2 months of regular meditation to get the hang of things, but I promise there will be benefits for your body and mind all along the way. Always remember that treating yourself with kindness as you flex your meditation muscle is the most critical step to improving your health. Happy meditating!

Check out the other articles in this meditation series:

Movement as Meditation

Merging Faith and Meditation