If the New Year inspires the new you to start a mindful practice, meditation may be the perfect place to start. The practice of meditation has seen an increase in popularity in recent years. However, the actual practice has been around for thousands. Learning how to meditate is a game-changer for most people, with the biggest lesson being how individualized the practice can be.
One of the first things you realize as you consider learning how to meditate: there is no wrong way to develop your practice. What works for you is all that matters. Your meditation style can be as individual as you are!
Developing your meditation style is a unique and life-changing process. Meditation is not a new concept and has been tried in various forms and methods for many centuries. To create your own style, you may want to consider how people have practiced how to meditate over the years.
Archeologists date the beginning of the practice of meditation as far back as 5,000 BCE, and it has religious ties in Egypt and China. Meditation also has strong ties to Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. Many Americans began to embrace meditation in the 1970s, brought into the consciousness of our country through gurus from India who taught self-transformation through yoga and meditation.
Starting a Meditation Practice
When you learn how to meditate, you may find there is something particularly therapeutic in the act of preparing for your meditation. You can develop methodical steps that help prepare your mind for your time in focused meditation. Until you become more comfortable with your practice, you may want to write down the steps and read through them as you prepare your mind and physical space.
7 Things to Do Before Every Meditation Session
- Prepare the meditation space
- Set your intention
- Resolve not to judge (yourself or others!)
- Review potential distractions
- Commit to “be here now”
- Review posture
- Decide on length of time and set timer
1. Prepare the meditation space
You may have a designated room or space for your meditation practice, or you may have an area that does double-duty. Take a few minutes to consider the objects in your meditation space and remove any distractions. For example, if you use your desk, be sure to remove dirty dishes and other clutter before settling in to focus.
You may also consider creating a pleasing visual space. A salt lamp or candle may provide ambient light and a focus point if needed. As you become more comfortable with how to meditate, this is the perfect space to collect your healing stones and arrange them within reach if you choose to connect with healing stones during your meditation practice.
2. Set your intention
Just like your motivation, your intention will be unique to you. As you are just beginning to learn how to meditate, keep your intentions simple and be kind to yourself. Perhaps your intention will be to focus on your breath.
And if you are focusing on your breath, set an intention to be gentle with yourself when you find your mind wandering, following other thoughts wherever they may lead. Don’t scold yourself for losing focus; gently lead yourself back to the in and out movements of your breathing.
3. Resolve not to judge (yourself or others!)
When you begin your journey to learn how to meditate, it is very easy to be hard on yourself. So, for each meditation session, resolve that you have a goal – a loosely set goal – and it is okay if you do not achieve it. (Type A personalities, you just read that last sentence again, didn’t you?)
Meditation is a practice, and none of us are perfect at it right away or even years into our sessions. Learning how to meditate is an evolving skill that we gently guide ourselves through, and we will move at our own unique pace. Resolve not to judge your progress – or compare it to the progress of others!
4. Review potential distractions
As we develop our skills and refine how to meditate and what it means, it can be difficult to turn off the thoughts and concerns running through our heads. As we sit to focus on our breath, we probably already know – these thoughts aren’t going away! Take a few minutes and write them down; jot a quick list to get those thoughts out of your head and down on paper for resolution after your meditation practice.
It isn’t just our thoughts that distract us – the temperature of the room, the ticking of a distant clock, the tightness of our waistband around our midsection. All of these distractions become barriers to our incremental success to focus during our designated meditation time. So, take a few minutes to listen and be aware of feelings (both physical and emotional) that may grab your focus and keep you from progressing in your meditation practice.
5. Commit to “be here now”
Be kind, be gentle, and remind yourself that this is the purpose of your practice. Meditation is the practice of being mindful and in the moment. The whole point of learning how to meditate is to train your mind to let distractions go and “be here now.” As you spend time learning how to meditate, you will find that you spend a great deal of time getting your focus back on track after your mind wanders off into the great unknown.
Being committed to the practice is being committed to maintaining focus. For the moment. Be gentle in reminding yourself to return to the present and understand that it is a difficult step of learning how to meditate. Just commit to being diligent to this one session, in the here and now.
6. Review posture
What is going to make you the most comfortable? If you consider the pose of Buddha, he sat in the lotus position, closed his eyes, and concentrated on his breathing. Sitting crossed-legged in meditation, with your eyes shut, is the lotus position, but this may not be what is most comfortable for you.
Don’t wait for the perfect floor cushion to be delivered to your door. Instead, find a seated position that allows you to focus on your breath, which is tolerable for the length of time you have committed to your session. It doesn’t have to be fancy; it just has to work for you as you learn how to meditate!
7. Decide on length of time and set timer
As you complete your preparations for your meditation session, consider how much time you have to dedicate to this focus and set a timer. Some days you may have 10 minutes to practice, and some days you may have 45 minutes. Setting the timer is one of those loose goals you set for yourself, striving to focus for the time you designate and then extending that time as you continue to learn how to meditate.
Be patient with yourself. Start with a 10-minute meditation and grow from there. Everyone starts somewhere!
What is a Simple Meditation Practice to Learn How to Meditate?
There is much to be said about mindfulness practice. Because each person’s practice is unique and individual to themselves, there really is no wrong answer. As you learn how to meditate, consider putting a few steps together as you begin your practice and add the calming touch of healing stones or other grounding techniques as you develop your practice.
Steps to a Simple Meditation
- Choose a quiet place
- Place your palms face-down on your thighs
- Let your gaze rest comfortably forward
- Place your attention on your out-breath
- Whenever your thoughts wander, guide them gently back to your breath
Learning how to meditate is a process, and it definitely requires patience – with yourself and your progress. Focus on your breath and try to empty your mind of other thoughts. Give yourself credit for even the shortest amount of time you are able to clear your mind and just breathe!
Anyone can be successful at practicing mindful meditation. Meditation is a skill and life practice that can benefit anyone in need of greater focus, clarity, and overall calm. It has been playfully said that a peaceful mind begins when you sit down, shut up, and pay attention!
How to Meditate with Healing Stones
Healing stones have been an essential companion to the practice of meditation for thousands of years. Using healing stones is said to increase focus, deepen the mediation practice, and raise your consciousness and awareness of your higher self. Some people who add healing stones as they learn how to meditate feel like they have supercharged the power of their intentions, increasing the positive effects they usually feel at the end of a meditation session.
When adding healing stones to your meditation practice, pick the stone that speaks to you and has the properties you want to bring to your practice. If you are unsure which would be best for you, consult a high-quality purveyor of healing stones. There are several that can enhance your focus and keep you grounded during your meditation time.
Healing Stones for Meditation
Each of these healing stones brings a centering energy to your meditation practice, dispelling negativity and bringing balance. These stones also help you connect with a specific chakra that, with time, can enhance your meditation practice as well. If you are unsure which healing stone to start with, many consider the clear quartz a “master healer” and a good crystal to start your healing stone collection.
History of the Healing Stone
Our bodies have physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy flowing through them, which benefit from the electro-magnetic energies found in healing stones. This energy has been used for healing purposes since ancient Egyptian times when healing stones were used for healing and protection. In addition, Chinese medicine and ancient Greeks and Romans have long used healing stones in battle and medical treatment.
In the ancient days, healing stones were referred to as a talisman or amulets. Beads carved from mammoth ivory and contemporary beads made from shell and fossilized shark’s teeth have been excavated, validating the use of healing stones and our long-standing affinity with stones and crystals. Many of the healing stones we are familiar with today have names of Greek origin.
The beauty of a healing stone is that it works whether or not you believe in it. The grounding energy of healing stones has been proven for thousands of years, primarily due to each stones’ connection to the earth and its natural energy. Many crystals evolve from fossils - their vibrations have been interacting with the earth in a unique and powerful way.
Healing Power or Placebo Effect?
While healing stones don’t get strong support in the scientific community, don’t sleep on their placebo effect. Believing in their power promotes positive thinking, which has been shown to positively affect health outcomes and certainly does not cause any harm. They are not meant to replace medical treatment but can be a touchpoint for positive energy, confidence, and, at a minimum, remind you of an intention.
Bottom line: healing stones bring positivity to your healing toolkit. While meditating is a great way to improve physical, mental, and emotional strength, adding healing stones brings your practice to a whole other dimension – bringing your energy centers into harmony. Healing stones can join your meditation journey in several different forms.
Keep Your Healing Stones Close During Meditation
- Wear as jewelry
- Place on your desk or near meditation space
- Hold them during your meditation practice
Wearing jewelry with healing stones is fairly commonplace. Even in ancient times, people wore their crystals close to their hearts or pulse points to maximize their effectiveness. Healing stones work 24/7 – they do not rest! Having these touchpoints close at hand can significantly boost your mood and enhance their effectiveness.
Don’t Worry About How to Meditate – Just Do It!
Don’t wait for the perfect floor cushions and healing stones to start your meditation practice – just start! A variety of benefits await you as your skills increase and your focus deepens. There is no time like the present to increase your mindfulness and be kind to yourself. Take the time to invest in YOU!