It is becoming more and more recognized that meditation comes with a number of incredible benefits – it decreases stress, it improves the memory, it aids mental calmness and much more. Even science is proving this to be true.
And on his podcast, author Tim Ferriss finds that the one thing that most of his high-performing guests have in common is meditation.
The only problem is that meditation is also very difficult to get started with – or at least that’s the perception. Meditation often seems almost ‘mystical’ and at best an inpractical endeavour, requiring lots of time setup and so on. In some circles it can also come with various religious connotations that might feel uncompatible with your own beliefs. It involves a big commitment of time and a lot of discipline. And many people will work hard at it and still not see any results.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can definitely reap many of the health benefits meditation has to offer, without investing a lot of time or adopting an particular world view. In fact, with the right approach it can be a very simple and practical exercise. Probably the simplest form of exercise known to man.
If you’re keen to give meditation a go and to see the results for yourself, here are some ways to get started.
The Right Approach
The first tip is simply to approach meditation in the right way and to have the right expectations. If you’re expecting to become enlightened overnight, then you’ll be disappointed. Likewise, you shouldn’t expect that something is going to ‘happen’.
Instead, try to view meditation – to begin with at least – as a tool for helping you relax and just feel a little more at ease. The idea here is to let your thoughts pass by without engaging with them and to thereby get a ‘break’ from stress and anxiety and busy thoughts. Eventually, this can become a very relaxing place to ‘escape’ to whenever you need to take five.
And if you practice it regularly, the benefits will start to come.
With this in mind, try not to be too harsh on yourself. You’re allowed to scratch your face and you’re allowed to occasionally have distracting thoughts – just keep recentering and keep bringing yourself back.
The Right Strategy
To do this then, try just sitting down somewhere quiet and for ten minutes let your mind relax. Don’t engage with thoughts and instead just be aware of your body in space – and of any sounds you might notice in the background. Don’t ‘do’ anything, just ‘be’.
If you find this hard, then you can use something external to focus the mind. That might mean counting your breaths, or it might mean watching a candle flame. Another method is to use ‘worry beads’ which you can roll between a finger and thumb absent mindedly.
Another great tool to help you get the hang of meditation faster is the Headspace app. This app provides simple meditation sessions that you can digest in small chunks and will talk you through mindfulness. Another option is to use something like Mindwave. Mindwave is an EEG machine that can read your brain waves and thereby assess the level of activity in your mind. This is a very useful tool for gamifying the process of meditation – but it’s not cheap so keep that in mind.
In fact, you can even try using virtual reality in order to combat stress and that would allow you to visit a ‘happy place’ in a much more tangible way!
That said, you don’t really need any tools in order to get started – some good guidelines, a bit of determination and 5-10 minutes every day is really all you need! I show you exactly how and how to incorporate meditation and mindfulness in you daily life in my guide (that does cost a few bucks, but not much).