Meditation for Beginners
Posted on August 12th, 2016
There are many amazing benefits to meditation: lower blood pressure, decreased levels of stress, anxiety and depression, and better regulation of our emotions.
New studies show that consistent meditation can change the re-wiring of our brain. Research shows changes in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory and thought. Studies also show how meditation affects our brain with how we react to both people we view as similar to us, as well as our empathy for those that are different.
Additionally, meditation affects the lateral prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that handles logic assessment and rational decision making. Changes in this area can cause us not to take things as personally. Meditation affects our insula, helping us to determine if a sensation is dangerous or not. Finally, our response to fear changes as regular meditation can cause the amygdala to shrink. So many amazing reasons to start meditating!
It’s incredibly easy during stressful situations to stray from our happy, calm and balanced centre. The more stressed and emotional we get, the more our ego wants us to believe that is who we are. Don’t listen to that voice for the real you is peaceful, happy and calm. It is life’s situations and the uncontrolled mind reacting to these events that creates habitual mental negative thought patterns.
When you see a newborn baby sleeping, you see such innocence, peace, contentment and love. We all start there but then life gets crazy and we aren’t conscious about all the experiences and thoughts that are being thrown on our blank slate. Through meditation you can begin the journey of undoing the negative mental conditioning and return back to your true state; a state where you can fully enjoy life to it’s greatest potential and live a life of true love, creativity and joy. One must always remember, however, that patience is key. Think about how many years your unconscious self was unaware of the thoughts in your mind. We are very patient creating complex negative habits but we aren’t so patient when we want to change them. Consistent steady hard work is the key. Don’t give up and don’t be hard on yourself.
Lack of exercise and yoga made me feel absolutely stir crazy during my recovery. In my normal routine, exercise is what really helps me with my self-esteem. Since exercise isn’t an option right after surgery, meditation is the perfect tool to help keep the mind in check and to keep you positive. A calm and positive mindset is the optimal attitude to have during recovery. The body has enough to deal with so the mind sending off stress signals isn’t going to be to your benefit.
Meditation for beginners can be tough. We live in a society that is constantly on the go and always connected. Below are some tips to help you get your mind to unwind, and aid in getting you started on your meditation practice.
Too often people go into their first meditation session with these grand expectations that straight away they aren’t going to have any thoughts. Do yourself a favour and remove these expectations because unless you’re a natural guru it just isn’t going to happen. We spend much of our entire lives constantly thinking! No habit is that easily broken after one attempt. Remove these expectations so that you don’t get frustrated with yourself, creating yet another thought in your mind!
If you’re really serious about beginning a consistent meditation regime, start in small increments. 30 minutes of stillness can sound overwhelming if it’s your first time. Start with 5 minutes and gradually build up. It isn’t so much about the quantity but the quality.
Invest in a mala. A mala has 108 beads for you to repeat a mantra or to keep you focused on your breath. I often have days where my mind tries to interrupt my counting with thoughts such as “this is boring” or “how much longer do I have to do this?” Those are the days that I realize I need to be even more patient as my monkey mind is out of control.
Make meditation part of your routine
Find a daily time that works for you to sit in a quiet space and focus on your breathing. Setting aside a specific time to heal your mind and body will make you more likely to actually meditate.
Don’t view it as a chore
Since meditation is hard, people often come to view it as a chore instead of something fun that is good for your health. Try changing your mindset and think of your practice in terms of your body needing a good charge. We spend so much time thinking about our worries and fears that our poor bodies, which are continuously working so hard, are getting no love. You can return to your worries and fears at any point, but allow all your cells to get a good boost of light, love and fresh oxygen.
As a beginner it might be useful to have the aid of a meditation app. One of my personal favourites is headspace. Your guide Andy will lead you through a 10 minute practice that will strengthen the mind-body connection. There are a multitude of meditation apps out there so spend time trying different ones until you find the perfect fit.
If possible, find a quiet space outside in nature where you can meditate. In Ayurveda it said that one of the biggest sources of human suffering is our disharmony with nature. Feel the wind of the trees and the sun on your skin (protect your scar, of course). Meditating outside can be very powerful to return us back to our roots and to provide grounding when we are feeling anxious or fearful.
Below is a song that I love to meditate to. When I listen to it, I imagine I’m in the magical mountains of Sedona, Arizona. I envision this shimmering gold light entering through my body and radiating every cell of my being.
I hope you enjoy! Happy meditation! Namaste. xoxo
Ireland, Tom. “What Does Mindfulness Meditation Do to Your Brain?” Scientific American Blog Network. N.p., 12 June 2014. Web. 12 Aug. 2016.
Gladding, Rebecca, M.D. “This Is Your Brain on Meditation.” Psychology Today. N.p., 22 May 2013. Web. 12 Aug. 2016.