It’s no doubt meditation is an important practice to cultivate to improve overall wellbeing. If you are new to meditation, as we all are at some point, it can seem a little intimidating. I’m not here to tell you that it’s easy, what I will say is that it’s completely doable.
In this article I’ll share my own meditation story with you, my one “aha” learning that will transform your meditation practice, and a step by step guide teaching you a breath focused meditation for beginners.
I still remember one of the first times I sat down to meditate on my own. The year was 2008, meditation had yet to go mainstream but being a young yogi, it was already on my radar. The guidance was simple (or so it seemed) “closed your eyes, clear your mind”.
I set my alarm for 10 minutes, sat down on the floor of my apartment, and closed my eyes… That was the easy part. “Clear your mind” on the other hand was not so easy.
Within seconds my mind was bombarded with thoughts and to do lists followed by judgement and criticism culminating in my eyes shooting open after what seemed like an eternity.
I looked down at my timer, it hadn’t even clocked a minute yet. In that moment I decided I was too much of a “go go go” person for meditation and perhaps it wasn’t for me. Sound familiar?
Being a yoga teacher though you weren’t let off that easy. Every training I took whether it be here in the states or anywhere else in the world and especially India had a component of meditation. So I kept at it.
Eventually my meditation journey lead me to Vipassana, a 10 -day silent meditation retreat. It was here that I finally learned how to meditate. I went from barely being able to sit in stillness for one minute, to sitting for hours at a time.
The one learning that completely shifted my meditation practice was this:
With the expectation of “clearing my mind” no longer constraining me, I was finally able to experience what meditation was designed to do – develop my awareness of the sensations on my body.
Once this awareness is developed then only can you choose to respond or react to the sensation. Ultimately this is what meditation prepares you for, to become aware of the subtle sensations of an emotion that arise at the onset so you can curb the intensity. Whether that be anger, anxiety, fear, or even excitement.
It all starts with awareness. In order to cultivate awareness we practice meditation. Try it out for yourself.
Here is a short 5 minute breath focused meditation video from my Stress Detox course. In this video I guide you to observe your breath while acknowledging the thoughts that arise in your mind without attaching to or judging the thoughts (that’s the tricky part that takes time to master).
5 Minute Breath Focused Meditation for Beginners
Practice along with the video a few times, then use only audio, eventually practicing on your own. Remember, meditation is not a vacation, it requires work. If you find yourself opening your eyes one minute into it like I did, celebrate your one minute and show up again next time with an open and curious mind to explore what happens next.
Do you remember your first meditation practice? Share your story in the comments.
Peace & Love
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Ritu Riyat is an Silicon Valley Health Coach and Workplace Wellbeing Strategist. She writes about simple habits to support sustainable health through food, movement, and meditation. Download her free guide to a more mindful life.