If you are new to meditation, you may have a million questions. I have a million answers for you! Just kidding. I don't have a million. But I DO have a handful of answers to commonly asked questions that you might be interested in. Take a look!
What Should I Wear To Meditate?
I know you've seen those walking-on-air gurus dressed in flowy, organic, white, cotton from head to toe, levitating through their day...I promise you don't have to dress like that! But you can if you want to. Basically, wear whatever feels the most comfortable to you...heck, go nude if that floats your boat! The only caveat is that it's probably a good idea to avoid clothing that restricts circulation or your breathing while you meditate. The fewer physical annoyances the better, at least to start.
How Do I Posture My Body?
However you want. I'm serious. The main thing is to have the least amount of distractions and if you are uncomfortable, you will be distracted. I know there are practitioners out there who will tell you to ONLY meditate while sitting in an upright position on a hard-ass chair. Totally unnecessary. Get into whatever position will be the most comfortable for you, even if that means lying down. This is my personal favorite. What if you fall asleep? Don't mark it down as a failure. Obviously, your body has been asking you for more rest (have you been ignoring it?) and used your meditation session to speak loud and clear. Whatever position you choose to be in, just make sure you can breathe freely and your limbs aren't going to fall asleep. But, if you really want to stay awake and you know you'll fall asleep if you lay down, consider the upright posture in a position that takes a least a little bit of focus to maintain. That way you won't be tempted to slip off into dreamland.
What Am I Supposed To Do?
Generally, people close their eyes (though not always) while meditating to block out as much external input as much as possible. If you have a hard time being distracted by noises you could also listen to calming music that doesn't have vocals or a heavy beat or use ear plugs to block out the ticking clock and the dripping faucet that your landlord refuses to fix.
The most classic form of meditation is to just become aware of your breath. This is helpful in attaining a general sense of calm and peace. It helps all the aspects of the body come into harmony with itself and also with your mind and your spirit.
In this case, breathe normally while focusing on the inhale and exhale. If negative or distracting thoughts pop up (and they will) allow them to just float through your mind and then be carried away as if they were a feather in the wind. Don't judge your thoughts. Don't scold yourself for having thoughts. Simply bring your attention back to your breath. Listen to the inhale and exhale, and feel the expansion and contraction of your rib cage.
There is only this moment while you meditate. Let go of the idea of time and space, everything external, and just focus on your breath. You are learning to just be.
Did you expect there to be more? There really isn't. But if you still feel a bit confused, it can be helpful to read through some words and phrases associated with meditation to get a better idea of what it looks like and feels like for many. Read about it HERE.
There are MANY types of meditation that you can practice besides just breath work. Healing meditation, Mantra meditation, Visualization meditation, Movement meditation, Loving-kindness meditation...try out the different types to find what works best for you depending on what you are looking to do. More posts on individual types of meditations to come, so subscribe to this website if you haven't already so you don't miss them!
Here's the deal though, if you can grasp that the concept of meditation is about being and awareness then you can meditate anywhere, at any time doing pretty much anything...gardening, jogging, using the bathroom, taking a shower, sitting at that required monthly safety meeting at work. It's all about being fully present and immersed in the thing you are doing...or not doing. It's about experiencing the moment without having judgey, critical thoughts about yourself, others, situations, or ideas...without being concerned about the past or the future.
How Long/Often Should I Meditate?
There really is no "should" here. It depends on how much time you have and what you are willing to do. Start with 5 minutes, once each day. Don't overcomplicate it. And don't try to rush the process by jumping into a solid hour. Quality over quantity. If you can't clear your mind or focus for 30 seconds at a time, trying to sit for an entire hour will overwhelm and frustrate you.
Once that 5-minute meditation is part of your daily routine and you feel like you want to, increase the length of time...or, do two 5-minute sessions per day. It is entirely up to you.
When is the Best Time to Meditate?
Scientifically speaking, there are certain times of the day that are more "helpful" than others. BUT - not everyone has the same schedule or lifestyle that allows them to meditate at specific times of the day that are deemed "better" than others. Many practitioners swear by doing it first thing in the morning when they wake up...I'm not sure what kind of magical heaven they live in, but it's not practical for most of us.
For me, I wake up and struggle for 30 minutes to get my son out of bed for school. Get dressed, brush my teeth, move my body and stretch, tidy up the house, see the husband off to work, drive my kid to school, and THEN I sit down with my tea, and my journal, and meditate. I'm lucky in the sense that besides my part-time job outside the home, I run two businesses which allow me the freedom to meditate when I want...for the most part. Still, doing it first thing isn't practical at my house.
Find what works for you. And if that means taking a few minutes while you're on the shitter - instead of scrolling through social media - do that! If it means meditating while feeding your newborn...or in the shower...or while jogging...do that! It doesn't have to be fancy and it doesn't have to be at the break of dawn as the sun gods reflect on the morning dew and bend the light into rainbows...don't wait for the unicorns either.
Where Should I Meditate?
Literally anywhere. As I mentioned before, once you get the "feel" for meditating, it doesn't matter where you do it. Of course, there are some places that make it easier...like in a comfortable room where you can shut the door and be alone...or maybe out in nature somewhere you won't be bothered. But these things aren't a must either. In fact, if you can learn to meditate in a house full of feral children, next to loud neighbors with obnoxious dogs (experience speaking), or living in a busy downtown apartment, you're one step closer to mastering your mind.
What Should I expect?
Nothing. Don't expect a single thing at all. I'm being real here. When you "expect" to be miraculously healed, or that your problems will dissolve into thin air, or that you will become a little Buddha by dinner time, you are missing the point of meditation. The point of all of it is to simply be AWARE of yourself. Yourself that is the body. Yourself that is the mind. Yourself that is eternal spirit. When you get to know yourself in this way, the true, real you, all the things you are looking for will start to unfold in your life. But if all those things are the goal, you will be seeking forever and never finding.
Dedication to Yourself
I just wanted to add a note on ending this post...Meditation just is. You will never arrive. You will never be perfect at it. It's a learning process. Even though many people come to meditation for a purpose like de-stressing or healing, the original intent of meditation is to become aware from a higher perspective. And because everyone is different, your meditation will be unique to you.
The internal awareness, consciousness, and understanding of meditation cannot be taught. It is something you realize inside of yourself. You will know it when you start to "find" your rhythm, your being, your sweet spot. Be patient with yourself. Don't expect yourself to look like others when they meditate or experience what they experience.
All of this is about connecting with YOU.
Click HERE to learn more about meditation.