I remember the first time I took a yoga class.
Everything went smoothly until the very end when we were instructed to lie down and “quiet our minds.”
We were told to think of nothing, to let our thoughts float away, to simply just be present on our mats, in the here and now.
I had never done anything like that before. And despite all my efforts, thoughts I didn’t even know I had were running through my mind a mile a minute.
I remember feeling like I had completely failed yoga, just because my mind wouldn’t shut up.
The moral of the story: hardly anyone ever talks about how challenging meditation can be, or the fact that it doesn’t have to involve sitting in a crossed-leg position with your fingers forming the “OK” symbol while your hands rest on your knees.
Another thing hardly anyone ever talks about (but that’s certainly growing in popularity when it comes to health and wellness), is how mediation and even basic relaxation can help you to de-clutter and de-stress your mind and rejuvenate your entire body—effects that fall in line perfectly with the arrival of a new season like spring.
Below, Andrew Johnson, the meditation specialist for Grokker.com, a wellness video network with more than 3,500 fitness, yoga, cooking and meditation tutorials, offers his expert advice for anyone who wants to get started with mediation but isn’t sure how.
Plus, we included suggestions for a few more easy ways you can stress less and rejuvenate your mind and body for spring.
Embrace basic relaxation skills.
“If you are an absolute beginner at meditation, ignore all advice that you need to sit in a lotus position and have a straight spine,” Johnson said. “Feeling physically uncomfortable will slow any progress you make in the early stages.” In other words, start by finding any position that feels most comfortable to you, Johnson said that once you’ve established a regular practice, then you can change into a better position.
“Sitting still with your eyes closed, even for five minutes can be strange for beginners, so I always advise learning some basic skills like progressive relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing,” he added. “These gentle techniques will occupy your conscious mind and also relax the body. With some regular, gentle practice, the drifting down into relaxation will become automatic, and spending quiet, eyes-closed time will seem natural and pleasant.”
Meditate with purpose.
“My advice to beginners is to understand that although it may seem like you’re doing ‘nothing,’ meditation is actually an active process,” Johnson explained. “I suggest guided meditation as a starting point, so you understand how to get your mind to focus your attention on your thoughts, without allowing your mind to run wild.” You may find it pretty difficult to “quiet your mind” when you first begin, Johnson said, but in order to avoid becoming frustrated he suggests that you focus on your breath. “It will also give your mind somewhere to go,” he added.