Beginner’s tips for meditation

I love the part about meditating on a noisy train. This is something I often do, that is, meditate in places people don’t conceive of being appropriate spaces. Meditation is much more about being wherever you are fully in the moment then it is about being in a silent place with no distractions.

While being in a silent place with no distractions can certainly be lovely, healing and often necessary at certain times, it should not rule out practicing mindfulness anywhere and everywhere. Once you learn more mindfulness meditation it can be practiced while doing EVERYTHING including and especially during mundane tasks such as washing the dishes. It can transform those tasks into experiencing life deeply even while doing things you might have at one point thought of just as a chore.

Excerpted from Ode:

Interested in trying meditation, but still don’t think you have the time? Beginning meditation isn’t as difficult as you might think. So, without taking any more of your time, here are five ways to fit much-needed meditation into your schedule.

1. Keep it short. You don’t have to set aside half an hour; you can start to feel the benefits with even a few minutes of regular meditation. Most advice on meditation for beginners suggests that you start with only 5 minutes.

2. Have a focus. If you don’t think you can focus while sitting with your eyes closed, it’s okay to focus on an intricate object or a candle flame. Or you can close your eyes and listen to music. The important part for beginners is to be in the moment, rather than thinking about your to-do list.

3. Have a regular time – or take time right before you go to bed. Even if you don’t go to bed at a regular time, you can always make time right before you sleep. Your sleepiness might even help your meditation, clearing your mind. And your meditation will certainly help you relax so that you fall asleep faster and sleep better.

4. Try some quick exercise and stretching beforehand. If it’s hard to shift gears from paying bills to meditating, try a very quick exercise routine. It can be as a short as a few push ups and then holding some basic stretches for 10-20 seconds each.

5. Take meditation time where you find it. After a full day of work, heading to my three-hour evening class (and then to helping a friend with a late-night art project), I realized my best bet for mediation time was the train. Of course it wasn’t the best of surroundings, and I was distracted. But I sat down, meditated to the screech of the train instead of to music and left the train much more relaxed and energetic than I had entered it. Take what you can get!

19 thoughts on “Beginner’s tips for meditation

  1. Hi all –

    Wow, I’m relieved, but disappointed also to see that so many others suffer from what I suffer from. The harder I try to relax, use diaphragmatic breathing, meditate, etc., the harder the anxiety and panic come on. But I’m not sure I can gain control over them without these tools.

    What to do???

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    1. frankly guys,
      the answer is to hang with the panic and anxiety and not fight it…easy, no…possible, yes.

      I actually very seldom have anxiety anymore…and it used to be a MAJOR problem…it was when I started hanging with it that it went away over time…the thing is I had no expectation of that…

      so it’s rather tricky.

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  2. Thank you both for the tips. I’ll do some more research on it as I need to figure something out as this is really starting to get to be a bit much for me.

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  3. the above product Pat mentions is one I use…it’s an amino acid compound…very calming…

    it should NOT be used with SSRIs or SNRIs — EVER.

    it can raise serotonin and can precipitate serotonin syndrome if used in conjuction with the above class of drugs. Otherwise in general amino acids are very safe (these ones especially are all inhibitory amino acids)

    One must be very careful with excitatory amino acids which can cause hyperness and agitation in some people prone to such instability.

    On my about page there is additional info about amino acids if anyone wants to take a look.

    Amino acids are NOT psychoactive..they are simply the building blocks of proteins…but isolated they can affect how one feels to some extent.

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  4. Hello Van. I’m about to try a supplement called travacor, a mixture of taurine, L-Theanine and 5 HTP with other vitamins/etc. I’ve tried a lot of things, too numerous to even recall. I’ll let you know if anything ever works!

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  5. @Pat

    This is exactly what I’ve been experiencing as of late. Not 2 hours of sleep, maybe around 4, but the inability to shut down the thoughts AND the breathing.

    What steps are you taking to help you? I haven’t really found anything that works for me.

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  6. For many years I made a career out of extolling the value of meditation, and how vajrayana spiritual practice allowed me to “train my mind” to prevent the manic episodes that had landed me in mental hospitals over and over again, sometimes more than once a year. It really did work!

    In the last few years, however, I have been living daily with constant pain from osteoarthritis and now severe arthritis in my entire spine. I have continued my daily mantra practice, but my meditation and spiritual beliefs no longer provide the answers that they used to. In fact, although I still seem to have gotten rid of the mania, I now am experiencing panic attacks (or sometimes daylong-terrors) that appear out of control and are not helped by all of the usual meditative tricks–breathing, chanting, prayer, physical distractions, etc. etc.

    I talked about this today with Gianna, who encouraged me to write about my situation to this group. Just writing about it here reminds me that I have already made one of the mistakes that I have always warned about in my advice to others: spirituality and meditation are not really tools for healing or self-improvement, something that “works.” They should be, instead, part of the fabric of life–a time that you take “where you find it,” and something in which is is necessary to “take what you can get!”

    This is wise advice, I’m sure. But it’s not helping me much right now.

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  7. G,
    This may not be appropriate for a comment on your blog, exactly, but this thread just reminded me that I wanted to write to you about what’s been happening with me lately in this regard. My sleep is as bad as it’s ever been, and I’m really struggling with it, most nights sleeping less than two hours. My head is full of rapid thinking after my initial drowsiness inevitably wears off, and I’ve been trying to meditate at that time, just concentrating on the breathing, in and out, in and out. I find now that this makes me anxious and feel claustrophobic! It’s almost like a paradoxical reaction. I’m stumped. I wonder how much longer it will be before my nervous system relearns how to calm itself down and fall asleep……

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  8. These are great tips!

    Some time back I tried to get back on the whole meditation trip but I was unsuccessful in doing so. In part I simply couldn’t shut down my mind, and I also was using a guided meditation session that just didn’t work for me.

    Years ago, ambient music would be exactly what I needed… I miss those days.

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  9. I’ve missed you too…there’s so much weird stuff that comes up in long-term relationships…the not seeing the person anymore can be really disturbing (although I know practically everyone has to deal with this!)…but no one really talks much about it.

    I wonder if there are any good dharma type books specifically geared towards couples and really delve into that issue. Kathleen Norris writes a little bit about it in her newest book Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks and A Writer’s Life…how routine can deaden us, but also heal us, if we let it. I plan to copied some quotes related to relationships soon on FB, so stay tuned…

    So far I haven’t found any particularly great or useful books about relationships…I’m totally turned off by self-help books and definitely need a spiritual perspective.

    Love to you!

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  10. Well, thank you Doe!!
    I have the same exact issue in my relationship and I thought of it when I wrote the above post but quickly dismissed the idea of writing about it because it feels so overwhelming.

    I’m totally out of whack on that issue and it’s just so nice to have readers like you remind me of places I need to work on as well, while also validating that it’s probably natural and I’m not at all alone.

    But yes, being present with people, and especially those we love and are simultaneously challenged by (what intimate relationship is not challenging) is one of the biggest challenges of all in mindfulness.

    It’s a strange thing that it’s often easier to be present with strangers than those we are close to and it’s exactly because of what you say—we think we know them and start to take them for granted.

    thank you Doe, and oh! I’ve missed you terribly!!

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  11. funny I was just thinking yesterday about trying to use everyday moments for meditation…just being present, really…always coming back to the present…for me, I think where I really want to be able to be more present is in my social interactions…particularly with my partner…when you’re with someone so long you start to think you “know” them…and sometimes a bad side effect of that is no longer seeing them, b/c you think you already know them…I find myself not really listening or being present with my partner, and then I’m disturbed when I feel alienated from him, and can be tempted to blame him…but I’m the one who is hardly ever paying attention….so that’s my long-winded way of saying my area of need to practice is with the noise in my head that keeps me from being present with the people I love.

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  12. I don’t know why more people don’t do it.

    that gave me a good chuckle!!

    We all think that about the things that work for us…no matter WHAT they are!!

    It’s the evangelical gene that humans seem to have!!

    I’m working real hard on letting people be where they’re at. Of course I have all sorts of opinions about what might help people, but basically people need to follow their own inner compass…

    Life makes no sense to me at all!!

    okay…I sorta went all over the place with that response!!

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