Even though there’s a plethora of resources out there on meditation and its benefits, I knew this was a topic I wanted to write about. Along my meditation journey, I crafted a process and routine that completely changed my life. And now I want to impart that system back into the world. Through story, I want to add to this collective space to help beginners understand the benefits of meditation and help start their own practice. I hope I can guide people to choose this ancient psychology and incorporate it into their daily routine.
A Hindu Rebel Child
I was born a Hindu and grew up in a Hindu household, but mediation was never introduced to me, funny enough. It’s a shame really because Hinduism is so rich in soulful practices: mantras, chanting, Om, and even Buddha himself was a Hindu. No. I was taught to only watch and follow along and to never ask questions. I was told to pray, go to bhajan, to the temple, occasionally partake in pooja, and believe in God. Needless to say, I did not respond well to this parenting and teaching style, so I rebelled against it. Now looking back, all I needed was to be shown a different perspective and to be taught without any confined rules rooted in outdated cultural customs and traditions. What I needed was the origins of its spiritual teachings and how to apply them to my daily life.
My First Real Lesson
When I was 18, I took a Buddhism course at university and it was there I was taught the history, the principles, and also the purpose of meditation. It all sounded so wonderful and yet unobtainable to me. I remember thinking, “Inner peace? No stress? Quieting the mind! No way! That’s not possible.” At the time, my mind raced at such a rapid pace, imprinting craters inside my head. The voices and thoughts were constant and evolved into white noise. In class, I remember sitting in a circle with the other students and meditating – this was my first, true introduction. But at that age, my spiritual maturity and lack of experience proved to be a real hindrance, and I didn’t get anything out of it. By the end of my course, I concluded that achieving mental and spiritual clarity through this practice was an unreachable force.
At Last, a Moment of Silence
After graduating from university, I fell into a few toxic work environments that lasted years. Far too long actually, and my time there further damaged my mental health and only increased my anxiety. And then when my father passed away, which I will write about often on this blog, it began a new chapter in my life.
The day he died, I was on my lunch break at work, sitting on a park bench. The morning pushed me down into a spiral and I desperately need some peace, even if it was for a moment. So, after years of only practicing meditation intermittently, I decided to give it a try that day. It was a late summer day in September. The autumn air was closing in, but the sun was out radiating. I closed my eyes and let the warmth of the rays find refuge on my face. I focused on my breath and observed each thought as it entered my mind. I acknowledged their presence and then released them. In and out, they came and went until the most unexpected thing happened. My mind went completely quiet. It was only for a brief moment, but it was just long enough to hear the softest voice whisper, “Call dad”. It was my voice, but it wasn’t at the same time. Call dad, I thought. And even today I wonder, if I had called him, would he still be alive?
The Power in Meditation
This is one of the gifts of meditation: the magic in the truth it speaks. The power it holds to transcend this physical plane. I saw this expansive wonder. A month after my father passed, I remembered this phenomenon and began my relationship and my dedication to my spiritual practice. Slowly, inch by inch, I started to truly see the effects it was having on my day. My anxiety simmered and my mind hushed, if only for brief moments. I worked this muscle that was still very new to me and I felt it gaining strength. I was able to come back to alignment when I was ruffled or off course. I could come back to the center quickly and with more ease. And I was doing it all on my own. Finally, I was in control.
Make a Commitment
But my commitment to this practice was riddled with self-doubt. I was only dabbling and unable to be consistent. I was learning a new habit, and for me, that takes a while to integrate into my life. I often ran back to old, unproductive, and unhealthy modes of thinking because they were easy. It was easier to let my thoughts race and unravel, finding their way into the cracks and crevices of my mind. It was comforting in a peculiar and twisted way. This was my default. But after years of this “on and off again” relationship, I stepped up. I made a choice. I had enough. I committed.
Be Consistent. Have a Routine.
So, one day when morning arrived, I meditated, and then the next day, I did the same. By the end of the week, I had ritually meditated each morning. This will of mine gained momentum and the weeks quickly multiplied. Before I knew it, years had passed and I meditated every day. I started with small increments at first, 1 to 2 minutes and because of the commitment I made, this amount easily increased over time. I committed to practicing every day by establishing a routine to create this new habit.
Which Meditation is Right for me?
There are many forms of meditation out there available to explore. Find one that works naturally with your own flow of mind. Experiment with the different types and feel it out. Here’s a list of a few popular ones:
- mindfulness meditation
- Vipassana meditation
- spiritual meditation
- movement meditation
- mantra meditation
- transcendental meditation
- progressive relaxation
- metta meditation
- visualization meditation
And remember, they all use different techniques, but meditation ultimately is a practice that allows your mind to return back to its natural state of silence. This is its purest form and it wants to return back home. So, it’s important to find a technique that guides you to this inner silence. Now, this certainly doesn’t happen overnight or by force, just like anything else in life, it’s practiced. But it does happen, eventually. I stuck with it even when I didn’t think it could possibly help, but it did help. And it saved my life.
6 Meditation Tips for Beginners
1. Find a Time that Works for You
For beginners, it’s important to just start and that means meditating whenever you can to establish familiarity. To simply get the feel for it and to understand what is needed, you first need to find a time that’s convenient for you. Whether it’s on a lunch break or when your kids are down for a nap, take a minute or two to let go of your mind and move deeper into your inner world.
2. Commit to a Schedule & Routine
Once you begin feeling comfortable with the very act of sitting alone and in quiet, begin by establishing and committing to a routine. Right, when you wake up and just before you sleep is the best time to meditate – to use the natural silence of the external world. Whatever your ideal time is, the most important part is to meditate and be consistent.
3. Create Space
For beginners, it helps to physically move into a designated area whether it’s a different spot on your bed, your office chair, or on a mat in another room. Finding and creating a dedicated space or spot to meditate can help establish accountability, form a new habit, and may also put you in the right frame of mind. And remember, what we are all seeking is to be at peace when we are sitting in our cars and frustrated by traffic. In time and through consistency, finding yourself bumper to bumper during rush hour will be more tolerable, manageable, and dare I say enjoyable. Ha!
4. Calendar Alerts
If waking up earlier than your family is posing challenges in your life, or if you’re simply forgetting to meditate during your allotted time, why not set up a calendar alert that will notify you right on your phone or computer? If you prefer an old-school approach, leave yourself helpful notes around the home or on the fridge to keep you in line.
5. Experiment with Different Forms
As I listed above, there are many different meditation techniques out there to try and experiment with. Is there one you resonate more with that creates natural ease and flow when you practice? From transcendental, mindfulness, visualization, and mantra, the choice is yours and the discovery is exciting – have fun! And it’s important to reiterate, don’t stick with any technique that does not guide you back to your mind’s natural state of silence. Your mind wants to get back home. Keep this in mind when you are experimenting with the different forms.
6. Practice Meditation in Between Your Sessions
The benefits of meditation are found not in the stillness of the break of dawn but in our day-to-day lives. When the morning gets away from us and we are overwhelmed with what’s before us, the present moment is the only safe space, and this is the saving grace of meditation. The more you practice the more you strengthen your ability to be present in any situation. Even while you’re washing a huge pile of dirty dishes, or when you’re in a stressful meeting at work, or carpooling with your hungry kids and their friends. Yikes! To help practice this further, why not go for a walk and immerse yourself in the sights along the way like the variety of cars, flowers, and trees? How about the intricate cracks in the sidewalks? Focus your mind not by force but through curiosity. Get lost in your surroundings and then move on to the next wonder in each moment. Stay in the here and now. If you find this form of movement meditation helpful, practice walking meditation. It’s a personal go-to of mine when I’m feeling restless.
Questions to Help Prompt You to Look Within:
- What does it mean to bring meditation into your day?
- How is it calling you?
- When does it feel right to meditate?
- What do you want from meditation?
- What would it feel like if one year went by and you didn’t establish a relationship with meditation?
- What needs to happen in your life in order to start meditating?
Creating a routine and being consistent with your meditation practice is the only method to see and feel its benefits in full force. And your practice goes far beyond the perfect time and space you’ve carved out. Bring the methods of meditation into your daily life, from the exciting to the mundane. This is its true gift and power. Together we can plant the seeds today and watch the beauty grow over time.
Until next time, you Wildsoul – keep blooming!