A beginner's guide to meditation

By YOU
01 January 2017

There are several meditation techniques, however, we have five simple steps to get started.

There are several meditation techniques and an overwhelming amount of information on how to do it, says Dr Simon Whitesman, a practitioner of integrative medicine.

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing because they all aim to achieve more or less the same thing.” Meditation facilitator Dina Cramer agrees.

“They’re all about quieting the mind. There’s no right or wrong way – if you’re feeling better and meditating consistently you’re getting it right,” she says.


STEP 1


Find a quiet place at home where you can sit comfortably on the floor, back against a wall or on a straight-back chair for 10-20 minutes.


STEP 2


Decide on a meditative anchor. This could be focusing on your breathing (deep breathing helps you to relax and releases toxins from your system) or a candle flame or a flower – anything you can bring your focus back to when your thoughts become judgmental or turn to worry.


STEP 3


Close your eyes and sit still. It’s natural for your mind to wander – to what to make for dinner, the report you need to finish or a health problem.

“Your aim in meditating is not to think of ‘nothing’ but to acknowledge your thoughts as if you’re observing them, without judging them or becoming caught up in them, and gently returning your focus to your anchor,” Dr Whitesman says.

Recognise your thoughts but try not to get involved with them, he advises. Think of it as an interesting tour of your body and mind where you’re the curious observer.

“The idea is to realise you don’t need to be reactive and driven by your thoughts and emotions; that in your daily life you can operate from a space of conscious choice,” Cramer says.


STEP 4


Be patient. “Meditation takes practice, just like fitness. You don’t become fit with just one gym session,” Dr Whitesman says.

“In the beginning your mind will wander and you’ll get distracted easily, even frustrated. With practice you’ll get better until one day you’ll be able to experience a full meditation where your mind and body are relaxed and at peace and you feel like you’ve entered a state of bliss,” Cramer says.


STEP 5


Remember to take note of the changes happening in your life due to your meditation sessions. “I’ve seen really dramatic changes in people,” Dr Whitesman says.

“I knew someone who lived in chronic pain and began to manage her pain so she was no longer debilitated by it.

“I haven’t ever come across anyone who after meditating for a while didn’t feel calmer, less reactive, more focused and transformed.”

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