What's the best way to start meditating? I tried before and I didn't like it. I don't think I was doing it right. -J.S. Barrie, ON
That’s a very common question and a very common reported experience. There are a few things you can first do to help set yourself up for success before you get started, which help to begin the mental process and set your intention in motion. It can help to make it more enjoyable, and maybe even exciting!
I'd like to ask you to think about where you would like to call your meditation space. With gratitude, decide on a location where you would like to go everyday, to meet yourself in a very personal and intimate way. Choose a space with few distractions, where you can either sit on a cushion on the floor, or in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. You will want to be comfortable but not too comfortable that you may fall asleep. Avoid laying down if your physical health will allow it. This won't be a time for relaxation. You can do that part when your work is done! For your meditations, you will want to have your spine as straight as possible, body alert, as if you just sat up to hear something of great interest. Engaged, but comfortable. Further instruction will be shared about this when I discuss the how-to’s, but for now, keep those things in mind as you choose your location and what you will be sitting on.
You can also incorporate things that have meaning to you. An alter of sorts. Crystals or statues or photos or anything else that when connected with, you feel a sense of true happiness and maybe even faith and knowing that there's more to this thing we call life. These things certainly aren't necessary, but some people do find them helpful, so please feel free to surround yourself with items that you cherish. Candles and incense are a great addition too.
Please pick out a meditation journal. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. A notebook from the dollar store works fine. If you don't have one yet, don't worry about it. Let picking one become part of the process. Let the right one come to you. Also keep in mind your laptop or phone work great too. Open an app and start writing. Some people prefer the flow of typing to writing by hand. Journaling is often a huge part of the healing process, and it's always a good way to stay motivated. When you can look back at how far you've come, it can be great encouragement to continue to push forward.
Please set yourself up in a space where you feel you will be successful. Eventually in your practice you can take your meditations to places with challenges or more outside distractions but for this purpose and to begin, we want to set ourselves up to win.
Take a moment to also consider the time of day you'll be meditating. Each day will be up to you to decide when is best - just after waking and just before sleep are often two suggested times of day. Choose a time when you know you will be able to sit and dedicate yourself for the amount of time you decide on, usually 15-20 mins or so. Make room for it and make it a priority, but again, setting yourself up for success. Don't make it too hard on you to begin with. Compromise with your current habits.
A timer is good to have too. Your phone can work great or anything else you can set an alarm on. Having something to watch the time for you frees yourself up from that distraction too.
Plan this all with gratitude. The energy of being thankful is fortified and on your side today, so harness it, and give thanks to yourself for choosing to take on this new experience. Thank yourself for dedicating your time to improving your life. Thank yourself for choosing you. Gratitude is the gateway to love. Love is all there is. Be thankful and take the first step to connecting to that powerful source of energy and begin to tap into the essence of who you really are.
Prepare to begin! And then you can read up on one of my favourite styles of meditation - a Zen meditation.