If you’re new to meditation without the help of a guide, or just new to meditation altogether, it can be intimidating. Simply put, meditation is a mental exercise that one practices to achieve calm, and it doesn’t need to be overly complicated. There is a plethora of ways to meditate, so it’s important to find a method that will work for you, because if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t want to do it. Try approaching meditation by going through these easy steps, and soon enough, you’ll be able to practice your own self-guided meditation regularly.
6 Steps To Self-Guided Meditation
1. Position yourself:
You don’t need to be in a seated cross-legged position to meditate, unless that’s what feels best for you. You may also meditate lying down in savasana, in which you lay flat on your back and attempt to mindfully relax every muscle in your body. But meditation can be practiced at any moment in your day, while driving, sitting on a park bench or at a desk, and even in the shower.
2. Make time:
It’s a common misconception that if you’re going to meditate, it has to be for an extended length of time, such as thirty minutes. But one of the secrets to meditation is that it can be done anywhere for any amount of time. Even thirty seconds of mindful meditation here and there throughout your day is beneficial.
3. Practice breathing:
Many people find breathwork anxiety-inducing, which is the opposite of what meditation should achieve. However, breathwork is a practice, and I would encourage you to think of it that way. Start by becoming aware of your breath. How long are your exhales and inhales? Are you breathing through your nose or your mouth? Now take a long inhale through the nose, hold it for a moment, and exhale slowly through the mouth. After only three repetitions, you should feel much calmer, but you can do this for as long as you like.
4: Ease anxiety:
If you’re experiencing stress and it’s manifesting into physical symptoms, such as an increased heart rate or heart palpations, you can stop what you’re doing and practice this grounding exercise. Begin by placing one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach. If you are not in a position to use your hands, because maybe you’re in public and don’t feel comfortable doing so in front of others, just skip this step. Now, close your eyes, and tell yourself, “Everything is fine right now.” If that statement doesn’t resonate with you, you can try something else, like “Everything is going to be okay,” or simply, “I’m okay.” This exercise takes a mere 15 seconds. Play around with the motto until you find something that fits you. Finding the motto that will calm your nerves is key here, because you want to tell yourself something that will genuinely remind you everything really is okay. Then, think of this motto as your secret weapon against anxiety getting the best of you.
5. Meet the moment:
Going through the five senses is not only an excellent place to start with meditation for beginners, but it’s an excellent base to return to no matter how long you’ve been practicing meditation. Simply, run through the senses: what do you feel, taste, smell, hear, and see. The first sense listed is “feel.” Feel is both literal and emotional, so you might feel cold, but you may also feel upset. Being upset can have both emotional and physical feelings, so the “feel” sense is an excellent opportunity to notice what you’re thinking and how that affects you physically. The last sense listed is “see,” so if your eyes are closed, you’ll only see reflections of light, which can be a beautiful thing to notice, but if you save sight for last, just open your eyes and look around you. The sensory inventory is an amazing way to get better at being in the present, so if that is something you struggle with, stop and run through the five senses.
How often do you check-in and ask yourself what’s working and what isn’t? It took me a lot of meditation to realize that I often already know the answers to my own questions, and I’d bet that you do too. If journaling is something that has helped you before, then this type of reflective meditation, or internal self-talk, is probably going to be a good fit for you.
If you find yourself getting exasperating with your journey into meditation, there is no shame in getting some help and trying guided meditations. There are so many sources available online, often at no cost. You may have to dig around to find ones that are going to work for you, but that’s okay. You may even try searching for specific kinds of meditations. For example, during my own yoga training, a classmate suggested a guided meditation made specifically for mothers. The speaker said to think of a happy moment with your child, and I thought of holding my son when he was just born, the smell of his hair, and how delicate he felt in my arms. I found myself crying, and thought, “Where did that come from?” Even though I prefer meditating independently, the experience reminded me that sometimes other people can nudge us out of our comfort zones, and that’s a good thing. So even if you’re learning how to practice self-guided meditation, I’d still urge you to listen to a guided meditation periodically.
Whatever you do, don’t let your journey into self-guided meditation become stressful. It is something well worth figuring out.
“The thing about meditation is: You become more and more you.”– David Lynch
Photography by Annie Spratt