Have you ever wondered how to start meditating today, right now? It isn’t as difficult as you may think. In fact, there are many misconceptions about meditation, some of which might just surprise you.
Recently I was listening to a friend as she said how much she’d like to meditate, but she didn’t think it would be possible because 1. she didn’t have any space where she could create ‘sacred’ space; 2. because she didn’t know ‘how’ to start and 3. because she thought she would have to go to meditation classes.
When I heard this I felt determined to find a way to help her to overcome her internal obstacles and debunk the blockages which were stopping her from starting meditation today – so that she could discover just how many benefits we can experience when we open the door to our inner mind, heart and soul.
Table of Contents
With practice you’ll develop personal preferences on how to meditate, but there are a few things which are true for everyone who’s just starting out (in my opinion!). So here they are, in no particular order.
Once you recognise these points, maybe you’ll feel more confident about how to start meditating today.
Concerns and Myths about Meditation
I have no experience (so I can’t do it)
- You can start meditation from level zero with no experience at all, on your own. There are no rules, only guidelines and a choice of styles which you can choose from in time. Start by creating some time each day to sit and focus on your breathing, just begin and see where it takes you. And if you don’t have time, read the book Joy on Demand (see below) for tips on how to meditate while going about your normal day.
I can’t keep my mind quiet when I try to meditate (so I can’t meditate)
- When you sit down to meditate, don’t expect your mind to go quiet. Don’t even ask your mind to go quiet. Just sit and focus on your breathing and be aware of your thoughts as they arise. Keep bringing your focus gently back to your breathing. You don’t need to be able to keep your mind quiet; that isn’t something that comes easily. Even if your mind starts off busy and bubbling over, with practice, you’ll learn techniques to help calm the mind. Don’t let this fear put you off getting started.
I tried meditation once and I didn’t like it
- There are so many styles and methods and personal variations on meditation; you can try different ways until you feel at ease with your practice. Don’t give up just because of a failed attempt.
I didn’t feel anything when I meditated
- Meditation takes many different forms and if you don’t feel the benefits, don’t worry. Keep exploring; you just need to have patience with yourself, or maybe you need to let go more and relax into it. Whatever you do there will always be some days when your meditation feels more powerful than others; it’s just the natural flow of things. And if you really don’t find yourself getting on well with it, look into a different style of meditation.
I’m looking for results but I haven’t felt anything yet
- Meditation has far reaching benefits, but they aren’t very tangible in the beginning. It’s far better to live in the moment and enjoy your peaceful time in meditation, instead of seeking results. The more you seek results, the less quality meditation and the less results you will get.
I don’t have anywhere to meditate
- It’s lovely if you have a quiet place where you can go without being disturbed and be truly quiet for your meditation. But if that isn’t possible, you can meditate in the garden, or lying down just before you go to sleep. It’s all personal and it’s all about fitting in with YOU.
The first step to meditation is just to sit quietly and relax. If you practise yoga, a great time to meditate is after your yoga workout. Otherwise just choose a time when you can be alone and uninterrupted for a short while. If that means meditating in bed just before sleep, that’s also fine.
Gently focus on your breathing. Take deep, slow breaths allow yourself to relax. If you’re sitting, you can sit in any position you feel comfortable in; I like to sit cross legged. I also love to meditate before sleep, lying in bed.
Going back to the story of my friend, in order to help her take the first steps of meditation, I wanted to find a good resource. To help me, I asked in a facebook group for any recommendations and of course I turned to our good friend Google to search for books on meditation.
After that I went about my normal day and let it be.
When I came back to my fb group later, I found several answers awaiting me. However, none resonated with me or they weren’t available in the right language (for my friend).
Then, in my notifications, up popped a notification that Supreet Dhillon had just uploaded a vlog onto youtube. Her vlog is called Crushing Meditation, and it couldn’t have come at a more timely moment! So naturally I clicked to watch, and what should I see? The perfect book for my friend! So thank you Supreet for sharing and hooking me up with the book, Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan.
Joy On Demand by Chade-Meng Tan
Of course I wasn’t about to give away a book and recommend it without checking it out first, so I ordered two copies and spent the best part of my weekend reading it.
What I like is that it’s so down to earth it makes meditation reachable for everyone. It really does show you how to start meditating today, no matter how hectic your lifestyle! And Chade-Meng has such an easy way of chatting, it makes for a very pleasant read.
You can order Joy on Demand on Amazon here.
One of the first things that I love is that he introduces the reader to the concept that you can take one mindful breath wherever you are. Just by breathing deeply and bringing awareness to your breath you start to get benefits.
He suggests creating a routine in your life so that you start to build the habit.
For example you could take a mindful breath every morning when you wake up or just before you go to sleep; once in every hour while you’re at work or whenever you have to wait for something. In a queue at the bank . . . at the checkout . . . there are plenty of opportunities in most people’s day to include this practice.
Not only was this exactly what I was hoping for, for my friend (who thought she needed a special space for her meditation), but it also resonated with me too. I’m already implementing this into my daily life along with my other meditation practices.
Joy as Your Baseline
Apart from the one mindful breath, Chad-Meng shows us meditation from joy, and joy from meditation. We all have a baseline state which can be miserable or joyful depending on our inner programming, and Chade-Meng shows us how we can retrain our minds to raise the level of our baseline to one of joy (or at least closer to joy).
You baseline is something you can affect and change: you can choose how to feel! It takes practice – Chade-Meng shows us that you can do it! So let’s raise our levels of joy!
Bring Your Focus Back to Your Breath
With practice you become more masterful at just observing your thoughts and allowing them to drift away while you bring your focus back to your breathing. The ultimate goal for serious meditators may be to quieten the mind completely, but most of us will observe the thoughts and gently bring them back (rather than being free-from-thought), and we’ll still gain huge benefits.
One technique Chade-Meng shares (and which I love), is to imagine a puppy dog in meditation and every time the puppy dog strays (your thoughts) you gently bring him back to your breathing with loving firmness.
When you’re going about your normal day, just randomly pick a person and send that person or people happiness and love. Send them joy and wish them a wonderful day full of love and laughter. The act of sending this kind of altruistic joy actually raises your own happiness and you’ll find yourself smiling and feeling better just through this simple exercise.
The people you pick will never know and you never need tell anyone, so this is a little trick that you can use a a pick-me-up throughout the day.
Dealing With Emotional Pain
There’s also a chapter on how to meditate when you’re suffering or in emotional pain. And what to do if the pain is so great that you can’t meditate.
There are loads more meditations within the book and plenty of practical examples of how to get the most out of your practice.
Conclusion on the Book
Personally I enjoyed this book; it’s lightly written and I sat down to read it in a weekend, though I had made the decision to do so and spent several hours each day on it.
Chade-Meng has a sense of humour, which he not only talks about in the book but also sprinkles throughout the sentences, along with cartoon illustrations. He reminds us that meditation is for everyone, while at the same time managing to convey the deep roots and heart of true Zen or Buddhist masters and accomplished meditators.
This isn’t a book full of flowery words or mythical inspirations. It’s a down to earth, practical guide with a twist of added humour.
Does it offer a good guide on how to start meditating? Absolutely.See Joy on Demand on Amazon
Further Suggestions for How to Start Meditating Today
Depending on how much you’ve read and depending on what expectations you have, I’d say generally that the best way to start is to drop all expectations. In fact, you can even lose the label ‘meditation’ from the equation if you like.
Firstly, make a distinction between mindfulness throughout your day, claiming half an hour to yourself in private, or using the time when you’re already in bed getting ready to sleep. The first and third options would be the easiest if you’re struggling to find time on your own.
- During the day: while it’s not exactly ‘meditation’ as you may think of meditation, taking regular moments in the day to be aware of your breathing and to inwardly express love toward others, as well as gratitude for everything in your life, is a huge basis for meditation and can start to change your life around.
- Your own time: if it’s possible, claim 20 minutes or so to yourself. Turn off your phone and ask your family not to disturb you. Sit in a comfortable position and quietly begin to take deep breaths. As you focus on you breath, start to relax completely. During this time, as thoughts pop into your mind, just observe them and let them drift away, without interacting in an internal dialogue. If you practise yoga, after your yoga is a perfect moment to begin the meditation process.
- Before you fall asleep, relax your body entirely, gently and slowly bringing your awareness from your toes up to the crown of your head (or vice versa). When completely relaxed, imagine a ball of golden light above your head (your eighth chakra) and see this golden light pouring down and enveloping your body. In this state of extremely joyful relaxation you can begin to simply breath and be still or you can go on an inward journey to a wonderful garden where you will come across other beings with whom you can interact. In this garden you may ask questions, meet your guides, unite with loved ones who have passed and heal yourself after your worldly day.
Personally, I think all three are absolutely amazing practices, with the second one being possibly the more difficult option to incorporate in your day, simply because you might not be used to taking time out just for you. If that’s the case, start with the other two practices.
I can guarantee you that if you take up this practice before sleep, you’ll never again complain of not being able to fall asleep because instead of fretting, you’ll go on a wonderful inner journey and feel so peaceful that you’ll want to return again and again.
My Own Meditation Practice
I’ve practised various forms of meditations/self hypnosis/journeying each night, lying in bed before sleep (using forms of meditation which I blended from various sources) for many years now, but it’s only recently that I’ve decided to start reading about formal meditation and apply what I read to my own practise.
I now include a day-time session as well as my night time explorations into the magic realms of the mind and beyond. My practice has been influenced by self-hypnosis, Shamanism, Buddhism and more general style meditations.
Benefits of Meditation
There are so many benefits that come directly and indirectly from meditating, and now at last we can see the physical, tangible results. There are so many benefits of meditation for everyone to tap into, from heart-health to calmness, to increased self-confidence and charisma, to raising the pleasure and increased mental stamina and to achieving success.
Start investigating your preferred form of meditation and see the benefits first hand. You’ll find yourself anticipating that time of day when you can go inward into your own space, and once again feel that moment of inner joy, and then, when you feel that, you’ll know that you’re on the path.
What Has Meditation Got to Do With Veganism?
When we’re meditating we connect with that part of us which is whole; we’re disconnecting from the part of us that debates, attacks, seeks revenge etc. We are existing in that moment, in a truly peaceful state.
When you recognise that the truth has nothing to do with our false beliefs as a society and you begin to connect to the inner you, you’ll find many things changing in your perspective and in your reality around you. As well as meditation, yoga is a great way to connect to your inner peace. If you’re interested, you can read my post about how to learn yoga from home.
It is in the nature of meditation to attract people who are peaceful by nature. Therefore I think that meditation, yoga and veganism are all related. If you’re interested in reading more about this, you might like to read being vegan and what it means to me.
Do you think it’s difficult to practise meditation on a daily basis? What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.