“THINK OF MINDFULNESS, THINK OF ALL MEDITATIONS, AS MENTAL SKILLS TO CONTROL EMOTIONS AND TO SHAPE THE IMPACT THAT EXTERNAL EVENTS, SUCH AS SIGHT, SOUND OR HEAT, HAVE ON THE SENSORY BRAIN.”
~ Christof Koch, Scientific American MIND: Neuroscientists and the Dalai Lama Swap Insights on Meditation.
- First, know that the more you do it, the easier it gets. That’s why I advise you to not become discouraged after your first few tries—it will indeed seem difficult to the modern day brain, but there are steps you can take to prep your brain for meditation.
- Move first. Run, do Vinyasa yoga, go climbing, dancing, play a sport—do anything to get your jitters out. This also preps your brain for more focus since you’re consumed in the activity.
- Minimize distractions: go pee, make sure you’re satiated, lock the doors, dim the lights, tell your roommates to not disturb you, etc.
- Set your timer (Start with as short as 3 minutes, then work your way up minute by minute).
- Choose a comfortable position—lying down, in childs pose, seated meditation (be sure to elevate your hips by sitting on a block or pillow, this will make keeping a long lengthened spine a ton easier).
- Begin monitoring. Turn your senses inward; come outside your body and observe what’s going on in there from a third person perspective:
- Thoughts: Notice them but don’t attach stories to them. Simple let them come and go, no matter how silly they are or how much you’d like to block them out. If painful ones emerge, don’t ignore them, rather breathe through them.
- Muscular tension: Scan your body for areas of tension. Start from your toes and work your way up to the crown of your head. If you do spot one, exhale and decontract those muscles. You don’t need to be working them right now. *Pay extra attention to your neck, shoulders, jaw, and eye lids.
- Emotions: Notice your heart rate, breath rate, stress levels, mood, etc. once again without attaching stories to them.
- Take your time to turn your senses back to the real world. Smile, and enjoy your meditation buzz (I like to stay away from technology for a bit because it tends to kill it pretty quick)!
Like I said, start small and work your way up. Don’t worry about your wandering mind– I can assure you that it will do its thing and go everywhere. Simply redirect your awareness inward whenever you notice and don’t beat yourself up over it. You’ll be surprised how much easier it gets after practice. You can also make it more fun by playing calm music and burning aromatherapy oils in the back. :)
Best of luck!