Hello and welcome to Motivation and Mindset Mondays! Today, let’s talk about 16 practical tips for meditation beginners. Meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, has become extremely popular over the last few years. While meditation can be very simple, there are several common mistakes and misconceptions about meditation that you’ll want to avoid if you’re new to the practice.
Mindfulness meditation is a powerful way to increase your awareness and improve your mental and physical health. In general, it’s also a very rewarding experience that helps you feel more relaxed, alert, and focused.
Getting started on the right foot increases the odds of maintaining your meditation practice and getting the most benefits from it. I hope you’ll find these tips practical and helpful. The benefits of meditation are wide-ranging, so what you do will likely depend on your own goals. If you’re new to meditation, or if you want to give it a try but don’t have a lot of time, there are a few simple tips to get you started.
Use these tips to avoid meditation pitfalls
1. Sit up straight.
All of us have our bad habits, and one of our biggest is slouching while sitting. This causes the muscles in your back and neck to become weak, and this in turn allows your head to fall forward and onto the front of your chest. Slouching may be comfortable for a couple of minutes, but it takes more strength than you think to support poor posture. Sit up straight and let your skeleton support your weight.
2. Start slowly.
Just a couple of minutes is enough to start. There are two good reasons for this. It’s easier to be compliant when you only have to sit for three minutes at a time. It’s also challenging to meditate for an extended period of time if you’re not experienced. In fact, recent studies have shown that even just five minutes of meditation a day can lead to noticeable changes in mood. As a result, it can be very easy to get caught up in meditating for 15 minutes (or longer!) each morning, which can lead to missing out on other opportunities for meditation throughout the day.
3. Meditate multiple times each day.
By sitting for just a couple of minutes, you should have time to sit for multiple sessions. You might want to try meditating for a few minutes each hour. In fact, recent studies have shown that even just five minutes of meditation a day can lead to noticeable changes in mood. As a result, it can be very easy to get caught up in meditating for 15 minutes (or longer!) each morning, which can lead to missing out on other opportunities for meditation throughout the day.
4. It’s all about the breath.
Your breath connects you to the moment and helps to keep your mind focused. The breath isn’t something to be focused on intensely, rather it acts as an anchor to maintain awareness of the present. The breath is considered to be the most important factor for keeping our mind sharp, focused and calm. It’s also a central part of our physical health, and we tend to neglect it since it seems to be a simple, mundane thing. But the truth is that when you’re breathing, your brain is at its peak of functioning, since it can produce and store memories in a way that is functional. When we breathe correctly, we can make use of the brain’s neural pathways and give the body the most benefit.
5. Count if necessary.
I have always been a big fan of breath awareness meditation, and over the last few years I have continued to practice it on an almost daily basis. If you’re struggling to maintain awareness of your breath, count your breaths. Count each inhalation until you’ve reached five and then start over.
6. Keep your eyes opened slightly.
It’s easier for your mind to wander from the present if your eyes are closed. Keep your gaze lowered and soft.
7. Acknowledge thoughts but avoid dwelling on them.
All thoughts should be treated the same. They’re just phenomena passing through. Let them go and return your attention to the breath.
8. Be patient.
It seems like it should be easy to concentrate for a few minutes, but the mind likes to stay busy. It’s a challenging habit to break. Be patient.
9. Sit comfortably.
It’s not necessary to sit with your legs folded up like a pretzel. Any position that can be held comfortably for the planned time is good enough.
10. Use a timer.
Without a timer, you’ll find yourself worrying about the time and continue to peek at the clock. Set a reliable timer and you won’t be as preoccupied with the time.
11. Increase your meditation time by 5 minutes each week.
Avoid the temptation to progress too quickly. Ideally, you’ll look forward to your meditation sessions. Progressing too quickly causes restlessness and agitation. There are plenty of modern techniques for increasing meditation time, and there is no question that it’s an important form of self-awareness and self-improvement. But it’s not easy to get started. As with any practice, we recommend that you start slowly. Build a solid foundation by scheduling your practice for some of the most unproductive minutes of your day. Then, as you gain more momentum, reduce your meditation times gradually until you reach your ideal level of 20-30 minutes.
12. Consider getting expert assistance.
There are many free opportunities to meditate with others. Look for local meetups or contact your local Buddhist temple. With so many people meditating, you’re bound to find an expert willing to help.
13. Take every opportunity to meditate.
Meditating at home under perfect conditions is great practice, but the ultimate goal is to have the ability to meditate anywhere. A skilled meditator can meditate on a 99-degree packed, loud, smelly, subway.
14. Be persistent.
If you’re meditating each day with the full intention of improving, you’ll eventually become a skilled meditator.
15. Stretch first.
Your meditation position should be comfortable and easy. If your position feels like a stretch, you won’t be comfortable. Stretch first.
16. There’s no reason to be concerned about your hands.
Just place your hands comfortably on your lap. Allowing your hands to be lower can eventually pull down on the shoulders and become uncomfortable.
Meditation can bring you both mental and physical benefits. Use these tips when beginning to meditate and you’ll quickly become skillful at a practice you can enjoy for the rest of your life.
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I really wanted to talk about this topic today because I wanted to share some lifestyle-based strategies to improve your overall mindset and mental health, which in turn improves your life. You must do the internal work to improve your overall health. You can do this by learning what motivates you and working each day on improving your mindset. Your thoughts control your feelings, which controls your behavior. You can cultivate certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
If you are familiar with my approach, I use functional medicine and lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle modifications, such as stress reduction and mindfulness exercises, can help you feel better about yourself and your life. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Is Dietary Supplementation Right For You?
Did you know that what you eat can have a significant impact on your mood and mindset? A poor diet can lead to decreased energy levels, low moods, and even depression. Conversely, a healthy diet can improve your mood, help you feel more energetic, and boost your overall sense of well-being.
For some people, vitamin and mineral supplements offer important health benefits. Supplements are designed to fight deficiencies found in our diet and complement the food we eat regularly. Supplements are basically “helping hands” to our daily food.
When stress, anxiety, and depression creep in, it can be difficult to stay motivated and keep your head in the game. Fortunately, dietary supplementation can help. Certain vitamins, minerals, herbs and other natural ingredients have been shown to improve moods and reduce stress levels. For example, B vitamins (such as B6 and B12) are essential for maintaining healthy brain function and producing energy. Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in fish oil supplements, are known to reduce stress hormones and promote relaxation. Magnesium is also important for mental health – it helps regulate stress hormones, reduce anxiety levels and improve quality of sleep.
In addition to these supplements, there are also a number of herbal remedies that can help with stress management. Herbs such as lavender, chamomile and passionflower can be helpful for calming the body and reducing stress levels. Valerian root is another popular stress-relieving herb – it helps to relax the mind and promote restful sleep.
Ultimately, dietary supplementation can play an important role in improving your mindset and mood. If you’re feeling stressed or down, consider adding some of these supplements to your daily routine! They may just be the key to unlocking your mental wellbeing.
So… if you are unable to eat better and need supplementation, the supplements in my Mindset and Mood Support Bundle may provide the extra boost you need.
These are my favorite Mood Support Supplements to use! This Mindset and Mood Support Bundle will ensure you have the intake of the important vitamins, minerals, and probiotics to decrease inflammation and boost your innate wellness day and night. Taken together, it’s a solid plan for increasing your body’s natural resiliency while you improve your sleep, decrease your stress, and improve your mental clarity, naturally.
Tools For Motivation And Mindset
Although you don’t need a cushion to meditate, you may want to consider using one at some point. You could meditate in a chair, or simply sit on the floor if you want. You can also use pillows or cushions from your furnishings to try out. Cushion, chair, bench, floor – it’s all good. Eventually, though, if you’re not sitting upright on a chair, you’ll probably do well to buy a dedicated meditation cushion. The cushion will support your sitting posture and help you create an appealing mindfulness corner that will encourage you to practice every day. I recommend this meditation cushion and mat bundle.
If you struggle with stress, depression, or anxiety, keeping a journal can be a great idea. Even if you don’t have these conditions, journaling can enhance your life in many ways. Having difficulty processing your thoughts and emotions? Journaling can help clear that mental clutter and move towards a positive mindset. Research suggests that keeping a journal can have positive impacts on both mental and physical health. So, to start you on your journey, I recommend this self care journal.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet, regular physical activity, meditation and mindfulness, as well as healthy and supportive relationships are the best ways to support mental health. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
PPS. If you or someone you know is experiencing severe stress, anxiety, depression and/or other mental health issues, please contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889. This is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
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