Mindfulness meditation is quite a paradoxical skill; in many ways it’s completely effortless, yet it requires a lot of discipline and dedication. As such, much of what we do at Open Meditation is to simplify meditation for beginners so that the initial hurdle of learning the basics of mindfulness, familiarising one with the key mindfulness meditation techniques and starting a daily practice is easier to overcome.
We are constantly asked for simple meditation techniques that people can use from the get go, so thought we’d post a few up to help you start your meditation journey if you’re a beginner.
Tip 1- Don’t try too hard
This is the hardest thing to get your head around with mindfulness meditation, because we are so conditioned into a ‘doing’ mode, and not really used to simply being. What does it mean to simply be? It just means be how you are right now without struggling, without trying to change anything, without wishing you were somewhere else or eating dinner or on a lovely beach. If you’re sitting on a train, you’re sitting on a train. If you’re sad, you’re sad. If you’re angry, you’re angry. The core of mindfulness, and the most important thing to remember if you’re a beginner to meditation, is acceptance.
Now here’s the trick; you have to make an effort to accept, at least to start with. You have to exert your will in order to create enough space between you, the observer of your experience, and the things that are happening both inside you and outside you. We describe mindfulness meditation as being ‘actively passive’ – consciously observing your experience without reacting to it by stamping a value on it. You can only gain control by relinquishing control. For beginners to meditation, this is usually the hardest thing to, wait for it, accept.
Tip 2- Don’t beat yourself up
This is something we all do when our expectations of how things should be, or how we should be, don’t correlate to how things are or who we are. It’s pointless, so pointless that a child can understand the logical fallacy at its heart. Things are as they are, full stop, so being cruel to ourselves when we see how things truly are is a waste of energy.
But it’s also part of being human that we all experience. For beginners to meditation, this self-criticism is something that comes up quite soon. The associated thoughts are often along the lines of ‘I’m not doing it right’, ‘I should be able to focus better’ or ‘meditation just doesn’t work for me’.
This is all a natural process, and it’s completely untrue. If you are aware of yourself sitting, even aware of yourself being distracted, you are being mindful. The thoughts are your way of resisting the present moment, and one sure way your mind can get you to stop meditating is to make you feel back about yourself.
The best mindfulness meditation technique for this is a self-compassion, and it’s essential in your practice, and not just if you’re a beginner.
Tip 3 – Commit
Stop overthinking and just do it. Sit down, come to your senses and observe. Do this every day for at least 20 minutes, no excuses and no hiding from yourself. If it sounds simple, it’s because it is. This tip doesn’t really have an associate meditation technique, because it’s bigger than that; it’s about your dedication to yourself.
Because this can be challenging to do alone, find a group if you can. Better still, find a meditation retreat where you can break through the initial hurdles all in one go. The beauty of a meditation retreat is really that you can see everyone else is sitting still, meditating, and especially if they’re also beginners to meditation, you know you can do it too. Added to this, no one wants to be the person at the retreat who gets up in the middle of a meditation. Initially this motivation might come from a feeling of social pressure, but very soon it will blossom into an authentic knowledge that you can do it, and that you are being mindful in that moment.
Hopefully these tips will make your mindfulness meditation journey a bit easier as a beginner. Try to be mindful of them as you experience the challenges of starting out, as an awareness of them will allow you to quickly identify the barriers as they arise. This in turn will help you to watch without reacting, and before you know it you’ll be checking this blog for meditation techniques for intermediates rather than beginners.