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Meditation takes practice. It takes dedication, perseverance, patience, and an open heart and mind. Many of you have probably tried to meditate. Maybe you’re totally new to meditation, you’re working on deepening your practice or taking your mediation to the next level.
It can be arduous at the beginning, but like many things in life, we get what we give. Here we go:
1) Deepen your breath
Slow down your breath, breathing in and out through the nose (if possible). Take a few moments to just be. Become present and feel the sensation of your breath. When your mind wanders, you can always listen and feel your breath. If you’re new to meditation, focusing on your breath during the entire duration of your meditation is a great place to start.
2) Eyes open or eyes closed
If your eyes are open, softly focus on a single object or point. If your eyes are closed, you can try looking at your third eye chakra (in between your eyebrows). This gazing point can help you draw your focus inward. Experiment with both eyes open and closed and see what works best for you.
3) A quiet place is a good place
While meditation can take place at any time or place, it is ideal to be in a quiet place when first starting out. Extraneous noises and distractions can quickly grasp hold of your attention. Find somewhere that allows you to feel calm and comfortable. Indoors and outdoors are both great options. Silence is healing.
4) Get comfortable
Super important! Your mind cannot be clear and calm if your body isn’t the same. Try different positions until you find what feels right. Try these: Sit tall with your legs crossed with palms on knees. You can also lean against something sturdy if it’s more comfortable. Another option is to lay in svanasana (laying flat on your back with legs stretched out and palms face up)
Be diligent and stay consistent with your meditations. Practice 10 minutes every day. When you feel that you’ve ready for more, try 15 minutes, then 20, etc. Schedule a certain time every day that you can hold yourself responsible for dedicating to meditation. It’s 10 minutes—I know you can make the time!
6) Things to focus on
The toughest part of meditating is often a busy mind. We’re built to think. We use our brains on a continuous basis, and therefore it’s challenging to just shut it off during meditation. Directing your focus towards something specific is helpful.Try using a mantra, mudra, affirmation, or power words to calm your mind and focus on something constant. You can also focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, come back to your focal point.
7) Friends are awesome
Invite your friends and family to join you. Feeling the energy of those around you can be empowering and will also help you stay consistent in your practice. Hold one another accountable and inspire each other to practice every day. Share your experiences!
8) Be accountable
Promise yourself that you will strive to get better with every meditation practice. Challenge yourself to practice every day, multiple times per day if you really want to kick butt! (But if you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up).
9) Self reflect
Meditation is a practice that allows us to bring our attention within ourselves. It allows us to cleanse ourselves of things we no longer need, brings new energy and life into our bodies, minds, and spirit, and also helps us learn about ourselves, and experience self love and moments of reflection. It’s as simple as a few moments each day set aside, just for you. Appreciate yourself, learn, grow, and love.
10) Feel connected
Open yourself up to the powers of the universe and the power that resides inside of you. Palms facing up will help you lift your energy levels up while palms down provides a feeling of being well grounded.
11) Distractions will occur
The sounds, sensations, and thoughts while meditating can be a huge distraction. Try your best to witness these distractions and then let them pass by. Revisit your breath, mantra, gazing point, etc.
12) It’s all experimental
It will take some experimenting to figure out the best time to meditate. Some yogis enjoy an early morning meditation while the mind is calm, while others like an afternoon breather, or a relaxing night session to wind down. Each day can be different, feel it out and do what feels best.
13) Be forgiving
Meditation can be tough and it takes lots and lots of practice. We all have off days and honestly, it’s hard to start a new routine in our busy lives. There will be days that are easier than others, and days when calming the mind seems impossible. Stick with it! It’s essential that we be forgiving of our “off days” or moments of stress and anxiety that effect our meditation practice. Take a few deep breaths and try again.
14) Have fun!!
As always, have fun.
Zuzu is an independent artist, photographer, yoga instructor, and adventure enthusiast in Austin, TX. Her days are filled with coffee, paint, and daydreams. She believes mistakes are simply a beautiful opportunity for growth and that our own life experiences serves as our most valuable teachers. Zuzu recently graduated from Wanderlust’s first Teacher Training Program and is on a mission to continually expand her consciousness while following her journey down the yogic path. She is currently experimenting with the concept of a floating yoga studio and mixed medium practice.
This piece originally appeared on wanderlust.com on August 27, 2014.