Meditation:  A how-to guide for beginners

If you are a type A personality and meditation is a hard sell, it wouldn’t be the wisest for me to immediately talk about getting out of your own head, or just shutting down for a while, or simply focusing on your breath and not letting the mind wander.  It would be a much easier sell if I described in detail the actual skills you would be improving and how those skills can relate to your life.  Fact is, there are legit and actual mind-body skills  that meditation trains.  You train concentration, which is the capacity to pay attention to what you want to pay attention to.  You train clarity, which is the ability to be clear and make discernments in what’s happening in your experience.  You train equanimity, which is the ability to not fight with your experience as its unfolding.  Concentration, clarity, equanimity.  Those hit home a whole lot harder.

Here is my step by step process:

  1. Put on either some background/white noise or meditation music. I use a couple songs developed by Dr. Wayne Dyer called moses code meditation.  They’re on Spotify and most likely any other music app.

 

  1. Lay on your back with your legs and feet up on the couch/bed/chair, knees bent at 90 degrees with your legs snug to the couch etc.lowback

 

  1. Face cloth or t-shirt over your eyes. Taking away the visual stimulus and having something over your eyes can help relax muscles in face and reduce the urge to fidget.

 

  1. Arms by your side about 1 foot away from hips, palms facing the ceiling.

 

  1. Let your body sink into the floor, don’t hold on to any limbs or muscles. Keep reminding yourself to let go as much as possible, think of a robot powering off.  Let your head/neck fall or turn whatever way is natural.

 

  1. Focus on breath, in through the nose, out through the mouth. This is the big one.  It may be hard to string together minutes or even seconds of good breathing, but keep coming back to your breath.  Let your stomach and belly expand when you inhale (diaphragmatic breathing).  Imagine that you’re not just breathing with your nose and mouth, but with your whole body like it’s one big balloon.

 

  1. Thoughts will come and go. A great metaphor I heard for this is picture a mountain with clouds brushing over the top of the mountain every minute or so.  The mountain lets the cloud fly by and does not indulge.  You are the mountain and the clouds are your thoughts.

 

  1. Just starting? Do 5 minutes. Everyone can do 5 minutes.  Then progress to 10.  Then maybe 15.  Then it’s up to you.  If you ask most experts they will say that 15 minutes is more than enough to get all the benefits of meditation.  Set a timer if you like, it will help to track it and allow you to not think about how much time has passed.

Try this task if you’re very new to meditation and/or you have a very difficult time focusing on just your breath.  This task is as follows:

  • Think of a word that starts with the letter A, that is at least 5 letters long, and that doesn’t repeat any of the letters.  For example Almost.
  • Then go onto the letter B.  For example Bravo.
  • Then onto C.  For example Crayon.

The “goal” is to get all the way to Z.  But the real goal is to give your mind something to do that relaxes it, not send it down the rabbit hole.

It would be a disservice to my Toronto Life Coaching clients if I didn’t discuss with them all the tools at their own disposal, and meditation is one of those tools.

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