Mindful // Meditation for beginners
Helloooo there! There is certainly a feeling of excitement in the air as the weather (at least in NYC) starts to warm up a bit. The sun seems to be shining a little brighter, and my mood is adjusting accordingly. Someone even told me it’s supposed to be 70 DEGREES THIS WEEKEND! What?! That’s crazy, and exciting.
I want to breach the subject of mindfulness, particularly for beginners. I’m not Buddhist and you certainly don’t need to be either to start meditating. In fact, I prefer the term ‘mindfulness practice’ a bit more, because every single human can benefit from starting this kind of journey. You don’t need to be woo-woo spiritual. In fact, many of most influential leaders of our time engage in some kind of mindfulness practice, whether it’s meditation in the traditional sense, or meditation through an activity like writing, running, swimming, gratitude, etc.
There are so many beautiful benefits of meditation:
Calm: It’s true that you can experience a sensation of calm and inner stillness, no matter the external conditions. When I'm out of the habit of meditation, I notice that I’m much more negatively impacted by my surroundings and environment. Calm is the most life-changing benefit of meditation I can think of.
Clarity: Meditation seems to clear out the muck in your brain. You being to notice that a lot of your headspace is being wasted on unwanted thoughts or superfluous thinking. I’ve experienced bursts in creativity.
Sleep Improvement: This goes along with the de-cluttering of the brain, but particularly if you meditate before bed, many people experience improved sleeping habits, which is a beautiful thing if that’s something your struggle with. Replace TV or screen time with meditation right before bed and you’re replacing a counter-productive habit with one that will enhance your sleep. Double whammy.
Mind/Body Awareness: You will begin to notice little aches, pains, and spots of tension in your body that perhaps you didn’t notice before. This is part of the process of becoming more aware, and breaking out of the pattern of living on autopilot. Choices become more conscious, and that’s the way it should be.
Attention/Focus: This is a topic that my generation undoubtedly struggles with. I love to fight the impulse to jump from one thing to the next with an act of stillness and authentic focus. It’s a very important skill for creative types, in particular.
It's not about amount of time you spend in meditation, but rather, it's about consistency. When you start everything will feel off, like it’s not going so well. The natural body functions instinctively in survival mode, not the ‘I want to be happy’ mode, so you have to help your body along. You will fidget and get angry about the process, but you just have to observe, allow, and accept it as a vital part of the process.
Your mind is learning to sit still.
I recommend starting with 5 or 10 minutes per day. Do what you know you can do without quitting. Again, prioritize consistency. Work your way up to 20 minutes per day and add another session if that’s what your lifestyle needs.
I recommend sitting up wherever is comfortable and focusing on your breath as an entry point. If a thought pops up, notice and observe it without judgement from the outside. If you realize you are in the thought rather than outside the thought, gently gravitate back to observation mode until the thought wisps away. We can introduce more techniques in the future, but I think this is a nice place to start.
A few resources:
The first is a book called “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron. The book isn’t explicitly about meditation, but she introduces many techniques that are relevant to life, loss, and how to cope with negative emotions. It's is a great read no matter what you’re going through right now.
For meditation specifically, there's an app called Headspace that I like. It’s nice and very beginner-friendly. Second, Tara Brach’s podcast has an ~25 minute guided meditations that I love. She also has a general 10 minute practice available on there. These have been great for me!
I love mindfulness, because it’s about prioritizing your soul and what it truly needs and (somewhere deep down there)—what it wants. Let me know if you have any questions. I’m about to re-commit myself to a practice that I let drop off and thought it would be nice to include my Cuppa Lo community in case anyone wanted to do the same. Xoxo!