6 Meditation Tips For Beginners Who Feel Like They Don't "Get" How To Be Mindful
When you first start meditating, sitting still for even just a few minutes can seem like the most difficult thing on the planet. And don't even get me started on how much your mind wanders. Between thinking about what's for dinner later, and that fight you had with your SO earlier in the day, focusing on the mindful task at hand can seem downright impossible. If ~finding your zen~ is frustrating AF (when everyone says it should be just the opposite), applying some meditation tips for beginners to your practice might help the whole thing seem much more approachable and way less intimidating.
First of all, if you feel like you're someone who just doesn't "get" meditation, it's worth reminding yourself that the practice doesn't come easily to everyone, and that you're 100 percent not alone in feeling frustrated about how distracted you get when you try to meditate. For instance, Katherine Illescas, MBA, a fitness/wellness professional and yoga and meditation instructor, is a self-proclaimed energetic overachiever — who’s also very easily distracted, she tells Elite Daily. In other words, she knows the struggles that many beginners face when they're first trying to get the hang of mindfulness. "Meditation can help you focus by shifting your attention from scattered thinking to the present moment," she explains, "but many don’t want to do it because it seems boring, unproductive, scary, complicated, or they think they’re not good at it."
However, Illescas says, with a few simple tips, tricks, and baby steps, you'll find yourself becoming more self-aware and less uncomfortable in your own meditation practice. After all, you don't just start successfully meditating overnight; it's all about implementing these six small steps into your routine each day, and before you know it, one day, you're actually meditating!
1. Start With Just One Minute Of Meditation
Rejoice, my friends. You don't have to go to an obscure monastery in the middle of the wilderness and become a monk who meditates 24/7 just to successfully practice mindfulness. Heck, you don't even have to meditate for 10 full minutes if you don't want to. "You can start with just one minute," Illescas tells Elite Daily. "Put a timer [on your phone], and repeat one mantra or word to center your focus."
FYI, she adds, that one mantra or word doesn't have to be "om" — but it could be, if you find that that works best for you. But really, Illescas says, you can use any word or phrase that resonates with you, and some other examples include "ease," "joy," or "fun."
2. Focus On Different Body Parts When Your Mind Starts To Wander
If you start building up your meditation time, and you find your mind starting to wander, that's OK. It doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong. According to Illescas, getting distracted during meditation is totally normal, but a good way to get yourself back on track is to focus on certain body parts, and the sensations within them, to help you return to the present moment.
"Bring your attention to your body parts," the meditation teacher advises, "such as shoulders, chest, back, belly, hips, knees, calves, ankles, toes, fingers, wrists, forearms, elbows, collarbone, throat, jaw, lips, teeth, tongue, corners of the eyes, scalp — everything." Then, she says, observe your mind and your emotions: What are you feeling, and where do you feel it? "It’s just a quick check-in with yourself — because you deserve your attention," Illescas tells Elite Daily. "There's no need to judge or fix anything; just observe by getting out of the head and into the body."
3. Don't Be So Rigid About The Whole Thing
There isn't just one way to meditate, people. So if you find that one form of the practice isn't your jam, there are so many others out there to experiment with. "Give one type of meditation a week or more to see how it’s working for you," Illescas suggests. "It may be challenging, but it shouldn’t feel awful. Like working out, it may be hard, but you’re training your muscles to get stronger."
If, after that one week, you still feel pretty meh about your chosen form of meditation, try dipping your toes into other types of mindfulness, such as mantras, breathing techniques, or even gratitude meditation. Remember, "there is no rule that states that you have to stay with the same method of meditating throughout your life," Illescas tells Elite Daily.
4. Don't Put Pressure On Yourself To Be "Perfect" At Meditation
In meditation, there's no such thing as perfection. The fact that you sat down and decided to try it out is amazing in and of itself. "Don’t put too much pressure on yourself," Illescas says. "You may feel like you’re 'doing it wrong' because your mind drifted off, you fell asleep, etc. Keep going, and your baseline of stress will decrease over time."
If you keep an open mind, and you don't beat yourself up so much for not living up to unrealistic expectations, she explains, you’ll begin to grow more aware of the areas you do struggle in, and in turn, you'll have more patience with yourself as you work through these things over time.
5. Remember, You Can Meditate Anywhere And Everywhere
You might think meditation automatically entails sitting on the ground and closing your eyes, but you can actually meditate anywhere, which could be a total game-changer of a tip for beginners who have a hard time getting all ~zen~ and mindful in bed, or even cross-legged on the floor. "You can fit meditation into any time of day — on the subway, on a plane, before going to bed," Illescas tells Elite Daily. "For example, you can mindfully eat by observing the taste in the mouth, the colors of the food, and the sounds around you."
Not scarfing down a sandwich as you haphazardly answer 500 emails at the same time? Sounds pretty freaking great to me.
6. Set A Reminder On Your Phone To Meditate, So You Don't Forget
Honestly, sometimes, just remembering to meditate is half the battle. If that's the case for you, Illescas recommends setting a daily alert on your phone, and sticking to that for as long as you need to. "Remember how you feel afterward or how your day goes," she tells Elite Daily. "Usually, things will feel better, or at least a little less intense or overwhelming."
Little improvements like these will motivate you to try meditation again and again, especially on those days when it feels like it's the last thing you want to do. Trust me, pretty soon, you'll actually wake up most days looking forward to your daily meditation practice.