Getting Started with Meditation
I am new to meditation. I don’t have the most knowledge on the subject, I have not been trained in it, and I often times get distracted while I practice. The beautiful thing is that this practice doesn’t have to be perfect, because it will never be perfect. So even those times where I have thought to myself that I am not good at meditation, I can now laugh at how silly I was for thinking that way.
Through my personal practice of meditation, I have noticed some amazingly slight shifts. My thinking slows, my heart rate (and probably blood pressure) drops, I can relax and let go of the day, and I fall asleep much quicker and get more sound sleep. I believe that the more consistent I am with this practice the more kind I am; to others and myself alike. Ultimately, it makes me feel like I am the champion of my life. Bold statement, right?
Allow me to share with you what I mean by this. To me, being the champion of my life is equivalent to being in control, and owning it. Being the champion of my life means allowing myself the freedom to think clearly, feel deeply, and live intently. When I am the champ, I can just be. I can be with no regrets, no expectations, and nothing to worry over. Being the champion of my life is achieved through presence, and I believe presence to be the whole point of meditation. All the benefits are just a happy by-product, and I’ll take ‘em.
When I first meditated, it was because Brittany had been doing it using an app on her phone that guided her through it. I figured if she was doing it, I might as well join in. It is fantastic that there are several apps and audio programs out there for people to utilize; such an easy way to start. At that time, I was not really into it. I thought it was strange, I didn’t like sitting there silently, and I didn’t understand why there was a mantra to repeat in my head. I didn’t continue practicing much with Brit, but she continued down the path. I am sure she had a better understanding of meditation at that time because of her yoga practice, which I was not even interested in.
Fast forward some years, and I started practicing yoga (you can read about my yoga journey here). My favorite pose was Shavasana, or Corpse Pose, where you get to just lay on your mat after a challenging practice to soak in all the benefits of your asana. The yoga teacher would softly guide the sangha into a state of relaxation, and I could always feel my body vibrating from the work I put in. I would try not to let my mind wander, and if it did I would just refocus on my breath and how my body felt. I was present in my Shavasana. I learned from Brittany that the yoga practice prepares your body for meditation by moving your energy system, and getting your chakras flowing. I was happy to learn that after all that hard work, laying there on my mat feeling present and focusing on my breath, was in fact meditation.
Look, I am just a regular dude, but I want to continue to grow and expand throughout my life. I want to continue to learn about people, the world, the universe. I want to share with others the things that I learn and find new passions as I grow old that I can experience with others. In order for me to achieve these things, I believe that continuing on a path of self exploration is necessary, and one of the best ways to explore yourself is with a meditation practice. Who knows what is going to come up when you quiet your environment and your mind. The amazing thing is that anyone can do this, and you can make it as simple or complicated as you would like.
I’d like to share with you what my meditation practice looks like now. Though I know it would be beneficial to meditate every day, I do not. Like I said, I am a regular dude and sometimes I forget; sometimes I buffer. However, I do take time to deep breathe and meditate with every yoga practice, a few times a week. When I owned the Dutch Bros. Coffee franchise in Eugene, I would take 5 minutes to close my eyes and focus on breathing deeply while sitting in my truck upon arriving home after a day’s work. Now I do that same practice about twice a week, when I remember. I also, occasionally, sit in stillness with Brittany during her nightly meditation practice. Even though I am not the most consistent with meditation, or do it perfectly, I am still doing it. I am still getting the benefits, and I am expanding.
One thing that stands out to me about creating a steady meditation practice is the environment. You truly can find the time to do it anywhere throughout your day, but sometimes having the right setting can provide you with a more vast experience. I mean, I still meditate in my truck, but I feel like I can take a deeper dive when I have the right set up. Here are a few ideas for you:
Smudge the room with Palo Santo or Sage, to cleanse the space of any stagnant or previous energy. Many Native American and other Indigenous tribes around the world use these plants and/or other herbs ceremoniously for spiritual cleansing or to move negative energy. If the scent is too strong for you, try some incense instead.
Set up an altar. A solid meditation practice will center and ground you, so it is nice to have a space set up for you to find stillness, peace, and relaxation. Your altar is your sacred space, decorate it with beautiful things that make you feel good and make it intentional. Your altar will likely change over time along with your practice, but it should always feel safe and sacred to you.
Listen to binaural beats. Remember my post about changing your frequency? Binaural beats are one sure way to do just that. Binaural beats are best heard through headphones where each ear is picking up a slightly different frequency causing your brain to perceive a third frequency. This changes your brainwave state and can induce focused attention, positive thinking, deep relaxation, or even sleep. This site explains more about how binaural beats work, and if you’d like a great Spotify playlist Brit and I enjoy, click here.
Grab a Zafu and/or a Zabuton (meditation cushion and mat). It is important to be in a comfortable position as you don’t want to be distracted with discomfort while you’re trying to go deep. I bought Brit a zafu and zabuton from Dharma Crafts.
If you are interested in getting started, I suggest downloading an app that can guide you through different meditations. Many of them are free with in-app purchases, like specific guided meditations or focus on specific topics to meditate on. Just search in the App Store. There are also guided meditations available on YouTube you can follow. If you’d prefer, you can start by setting a timer for 5-20 minutes on your phone, get into a comfortable seated position in a quiet setting, and focus on your breath. Breathe deeply, and if your mind wanders just shift your attention back to your breath. You can even try repeating a mantra to yourself. If all else fails, at least you were taking quality time to breathe. Trust me, you need it.
Thanks for hearing me out, friends. I hope that if anything else, this motivates you to give it a try. I know there are benefits for us all to receive, we just have to do the work. I hope to continue to learn more, and hope to share with you the more I comprehend.
Now tell me, do you have a regular practice of meditation? Are there any apps or resources you can share? How did you get started? Drop a comment below and lets have a conversation!