Everyone was new to meditation and mindfulness at one point. I’ve been meditating regularly for about a year now, and I try to be mindful as much as possible throughout the day. I still class myself as a beginner.
So, I thought it might be nice to speak to some Mindfulness and Meditation aficionados, (one is a meditation teacher and two of them have been meditating for over thirty years!),
I asked them, “What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out?”
I’ve summarised their replies below 🙂
“Don’t worry if your mind wanders, it happens to everyone. I spent some time with a Tibetan Buddhist monk a few years back and he told me that even he finds it difficult sometimes to hold focus.
The main objective with meditation, should be to open your heart to whatever it is you’re exploring. When you notice your mind has drifted off, just gently bring it back to your breath.
Don’t judge yourself harshly. A wandering mind is completely natural, in fact by berating yourself every time you lose focus, you’ll create the very stress you’re trying to dispel. Be kind to yourself and accept what is.”
“One thing I would share with a mindfulness beginner is that becoming mindful is not about reaching a state of bliss. I think many people have the impression that people who meditate are looking for their own nirvana, but this really isn’t true.
The practice of meditation and indeed mindfulness generally, is about living in this moment, because it’s the only thing we have any control over. It’s about caring for ourselves through ever changing experiences and through whatever arises.”
“The best advice I can give, is to use guided meditations for as long as you need. There seems to be this unwritten ‘law’ that says, meditation should be about the things that are relevant to your life and a guided meditation can be distracting. But, guided meditations can assist beginners to keep focused and find out what feels good in their body and mind.
The most important thing to remember if you’re using a guided meditation, is to keep trying. There are thousands of different ones available, so don’t give up if the first one you try doesn’t work for you. Try different ones until you find something that does.”
“My advice would be to develop patience. The world we live in today pushes us to expect immediate results. Everyone seems to want a ‘magic pill’ that’ll solve their life issues in 48 hours, etc. If you can develop a attitude of patience, you’ll find the world around you is a wonderful place filled with beauty.
Also, being patient will develop a level of compassion and understanding towards others, by giving pause to consider how others may be feeling at that moment.”
“You can’t do it wrong. One of the most common concerns I hear from beginners is ‘am I dong it right?’.
My answer is always the same… ‘You can’t do it wrong’
If you spend a few minutes, relaxed and quiet, free of distractions, or at least having only calming thoughts, you’re meditating. So, unless you’re following a structured path, or you are trying to apply a strict approach to your meditation, I don’t believe you can do it wrong.
Over time, you’ll find an approach that works best for you, but in the meantime, you’re doing it just fine.”
“I would say, don’t judge your meditation sessions. Just accept that whatever happened was your experience of that particular meditation. Your mind will wander, sometimes a lot, but that’s your experience. Remember to just be. Always be gentle with yourself and don’t have any expectations. Whatever happens, happens.”
“My top tip would be, don’t get dragged down into specifics. What I mean by that, is depending what you read, or who you speak to, you’ll often be told things like.. ‘You should meditate every day for at least 30 minutes’, or ‘While you’re meditating, your mind should be clear’, etc. But, this isn’t the real world.
Your mind will wander, you probably don’t have 30 each day to meditate. The good news is you can meditate pretty much anywhere at any time… on the bus, on the train, for a few minutes during your lunch break, etc.
The key to success, is finding a time that works with your schedule and also, what type of meditation practice fits in best with your life. So, keep experimenting until you find what works for you.”
So, in summary, the top advice from experts is…
- Don’t worry about a wandering mind, everybody has one,
- Try to live in the moment,
- Use guided meditations for as long as you need,
- Be patient,
- You can’t do it wrong,
- Don’t judge yourself harshly and finally,
- Meditation ‘is what it is’, so be okay with that.
If I was asked the question, even though I’m just learning myself, my answer would be…
“The best practice, is the one you do. It’s easy in the beginning to become dejected and give up because you don’t think anything is changing.
But give it time. The benefits of both mindfulness generally and meditation in particular seem to me to be cumulative. So any meditation you can do is going to be good, whether it’s 2 minutes, or 2 hours… it all counts.”
Do you have any tips to share? If you do, drop them in the comments.