How many of you are in the habit of slowing down once a day? It’s so important. Just being still for a few minutes with no distractions can change your day, and your life. It doesn’t need to be daunting. An easy meditation practice for beginners can take up as little as 5 minutes a day.
I remember my sister asking me about meditation a few years ago. ‘Isn’t going out for a walk the same thing?’ Nope. Too many distractions. Walking, especially in nature, is relaxing, and meditative to some extent, and most certainly one of the healthiest things you can do. But it’s not the same as sitting still with your eyes closed. Nor is it the same as lying down with your eyes closed. That’s called resting.
Meditation is certainly relaxing, but the unique quality of it is that the whilst the body and the central nervous system relax, the mind remains alert and observant. With no distractions of movement or sight, you notice all the tiny, subtle things that are normally consumed by the louder, the busier and the brighter. After a few moments, the movements of the mind (called the vrtti, in the yoga school) start to slow down. As the mind becomes less busy, it becomes more spacious. Space means there’s room for new things to enter and be received. Confusion gives way to clarity. Accumulation of knowledge gives way to inner wisdom. Intellectualising gives way to intuition. It’s a beautiful thing.
Sitting Still – Advice for Beginners
It’s not hard to get started, and it could be the best thing you’ve ever done. My advice for beginners is always to start with just a few minutes. This 5 Minute Meditation Practice for Beginners is a great way to start. Everyone can find 5 minutes. When those few minutes just don’t seem to be long enough, add a few more.
I often start my seated practice with a prayer or a poem. You might like this one, by Kabir. You can print it out, if you like – just follow the cues to the Free Printables – so you can have time away from the screen.
Why The Poem?
In the poem, I Said to The Wanting Creature Inside Me, Kabir, a 15th century Indian mystic, advises us to not keep looking outside of ourselves for the answers, to stop imagining that ‘the better place’ is somewhere else. His message, rather, is that heaven exists in the here-and-now, in the most mundane aspects of our physical life, if only we’re able to open to it. The trick is to observe the mind. Acknowledge, without judgement, when it’s running away into the fantasy land of the future, escaping into a self-indulgent rehash of the past, or creating an endless soap-opera of your life. When you notice it’s doing that, says Kabir, call yourself back into the body. Feel the sensations, be grounded, return to the breath. Do this over and over and over again. This is the pratice of Mindfulness.
A 5 Minute Meditation Practice for Beginners
Here’s what to do. Come on, it’s only 5 minutes.
Set yourself up in a comfortable seated position – on a sturdy cushion on the floor with your legs crossed, maybe, or simply in a chair. Keep your spine long.
Have your poem or prayer handy. Set your timer to 5 minutes, or longer if you like.
Start the timer. If you’re using your phone as the timer, you might want to place it behind you so it’s less distracting.
Count 5 deep, full breaths.
Read your poem or prayer, slowly. Take your time. Be with the words.
When you’ve finished reading the poem, close your eyes.
Stay perfectly still, feeling the sensations in your body and following the breath. Whenever you notice that your mind has latched onto a daydream or thought, just let it go, and return to your body and breath.
When the timer sounds, open your eyes.
Observe how you feel.
That’s it. Not so hard, huh? If it was really easy, set your timer tomorrow for 10 minutes.
I would love to know how you go with this. How was your energy before sitting down? What happened for you when you took a moment to focus on your breath and read something beautiful, slowly? What did you notice in your mind/body/breath? Did anything shift for you?
If you’re new to this kind of practice, would you be willing to commit to 5 minutes a day for a week? When would be the best time of day for you to do it?
Or are you already in the habit of sitting still and meditating. How long do you sit for? Why did you start? Why do you continue with the practice?
Do leave a comment and share your experience – it’s so helpful for everyone who is starting out.
Best Wishes, Good Health, Spacious Mind