1. Daily Practice. Meditation doesn’t necessarily mean taking a few hours out of your day. In fact, morning and evening meditation can fit easier into your schedule. Try simple breathing exercises after you lie down to fall asleep. When you wake up, spend a few minutes with the same breathing exercises. A regular mindfulness practice will gradually spill over to your every-day life. You’ll notice yourself going back into that “flowing” state during the day.
2. Mindfulness. Whether or not you have more time, mindfulness can be applied throughout the day. Simply notice things, pay attention to your breathing while you walk. Notice simple and subtle bodily aspects– emotional and physical reactions. Simply notice your thoughts as they arise. Watch the world arise and fall as you move through it. Once again, a daily practice is the most important for effectiveness.
3. Follow the breath. Inhale through your nose, feel the air fill your longs, feel the air leave. Beginners are encouraged to count 1-10 to help keep the pace. Once you are comfortable, quietly follow the breath. This is tricky to do at first, but it is the foundation of meditation. Gradually it will become more natural for you. When you first start, don’t worry about the thoughts that pop up. Just keep following the breath. When you lose count, or get distracted, quietly let pause and then begin the count again.
4. Read. Digging into a good book may stimulate your thoughts, but it also may stimulate meditative states. Reading Tao te Ching, Krishnamurti or even Eckhart Tolle can help trigger you into reflective, mindful states. Even reading blogs, links and anything on the internet is good for stimulating your mind and encourage self reflection.
5. Exercise. Physical meditation, you could call it. Mindfulness during physical exertion is sometimes one of the most effective ways to meditate. It lets you both be physically healthy and more aware of your body in motion. Meditation is not just about “sitting still” – that is, not just literally. It’s also finding the still point while in motion.
6. If you’re feeling negative emotions– good! Or, in other words, when anxiety, anger, fear, etc. pop up during your practice, it means you are peeling off the layers and noticing things that have been brushed aside. When these feelings do arise, don’t try to fix them. Just be with them, notice them and observe them. Just like you are doing with your body. This simple acceptance of their presence is sometimes the most important thing you could do for your mental and emotional well being.
7. Don’t push yourself! No, really. One of the most difficult things many beginners and long time meditators experience is frustration. How can you “stop” yourself from thinking? Well, the trick is it can’t be forced. If you are having trouble focusing, just notice that. If your thoughts wander, do your best to accept that and simply observe them as they stray. Once again, this bare attention is vital to a fruitful meditation practice.
8. Practice Compassion. For those of you who would like to try a more hands-on, creative approach to meditation. This form of meditation is compassion practice. Start by following the breath. After a minute or two, begin to imagine the world. Start with loved ones, and then go out to greater and greater points of view. Imagine any sickness, physical or emotional pain. As you breathe in, inhale that pain. If it helps, conceive of that pain as dark tar or black smoke. When exhaling, imagine letting that pain and sickness go into an infinite, unconditional love. You can imagine that love as an infinite blue sky or white light. Do this for 10-15 minutes a day. The results may be surprising!
9. Eat right. A healthy diet can make all the difference for your mental health. It helps attentiveness, awareness and general mental/physical strength. Not to mention– sleep right too!
10. Music and environment helps. The right ambient (or any music, mind you) sounds can help stimulate mindfulness. Also, the right environment can help you too. A quiet day with the window open, spring or even winter air can help you induce a state of meditation. Music, it almost goes without saying, is an extremely potent tool. Don’t be ashamed to try meditation CD’s either!