Life is a whirlwind, full of to-do lists that never seem to shrink. Women of color are notorious for grinding without regard for our health. But we all deserve a communing with peace, even if it’s in brief stints. Meditating is the answer.
Spiritual leader Deepak Chopra offers this:
All day long our mind spins stories about our work, our health, our finances, our family, or that funny look the store clerk gave us. Often we’re not even conscious of the internal soundtrack unspooling in our mind and yet it is the greatest source of stress in our lives. Although the mind is capable of creating life-affirming stories, it has what neuroscientists refer to as a negativity bias, a tendency to pay more attention to negative experiences than to positive ones.
Meditation combats our internal negativity bias by quelling our thoughts, releasing our stresses and fostering awareness of the present moment. It is relaxing to sit in silence, not worried about the car note or the dishes piling in the sink. The peace that surpasses all understanding also has tangible health benefits, including decreased blood pressure, lowered cholesterol levels and improved immune function, according to Chopra.
Finding the time and space to meditate prevents many people from engaging in the practice, but beginning is the first step toward mastering the art.
Todd Goldfarb, a life coach, offers 20 tips for meditation beginners, but here are the 10 most essential tips.
Meditate with purpose.
Beginners must understand that meditation is an active process. The art of focusing your attention to a single point is hard work, and you have to be purposefully engaged.
Stretching loosens the muscles and tendons allowing you to sit (or lie) more comfortably. Additionally, stretching starts the process of “going inward” and brings added attention to the body.
Meditate early in the morning.
Without a doubt, early morning is an ideal time to practice: it is quieter, your mind is not filled with the usual clutter, and there is less chance you will be disturbed. Make it a habit to get up half an hour earlier to meditate.
Pick a specific room in your home to meditate.
Make sure it is not the same room where you do work, exercise, or sleep. Place candles and other spiritual paraphernalia in the room to help you feel at ease.
Make sure you will not be disturbed.
One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is not insuring peaceful practice conditions. If you have it in the back of your mind that the phone might ring, your kids might wake, or your coffee pot might whistle than you will not be able to attain a state of deep relaxation.
Be sure to experiment.
Although many of us think of effective meditation as a Yogi sitting cross-legged beneath a Bonzi tree, beginners should be more experimental and try different types of meditation. Try sitting, lying, eyes open, eyes closed, etc.
Do not stress.
This may be the most important tip for beginners, and the hardest to implement. No matter what happens during your meditation practice, do not stress about it. This includes being nervous before meditating and angry afterwards. Meditation is what it is, and just do the best you can at the time.
Be grateful at the end.
Once your practice is through, spend two-to-three minutes feeling appreciative of the opportunity to practice and your mind’s ability to focus.
Generate moments of awareness during the day.
Finding your breath and “being present” while not in formal practice is a wonderful way to evolve your meditation habits.
Commit for the long haul.
Meditation is a life-long practice, and you will benefit most by not examining the results of your daily practice. Just do the best you can every day, and then let it go.