“You should try meditation it’ll help you to focus, clear your mind and be more relaxed…”
How many times have you read or heard this statement?
I know when my I was stressed out, anxious and not sleeping properly I used to hear it ALL THE TIME and yet, it was a mystery to me for years before i actually got started and figured out how to get meditation to work for me.
Fast forward after getting rid of anxiety forever and upgrading the quality of my life in ways I could never dreamed of, I think I’ve learned a thing or two that I’d like to share with you today.
The goal of this post is to help you reduce the impact of stress in your life and feel like you can meditate with confidence. It’s not exactly what I did, but it’s what I would do NOW knowing what I know.
Oh, and if you decide that you want to take it to the next level with this post, I’ve got a FREE 5-day workshop that you can register for right here.
With that in mind… lets get started!
MEDITATE WITH CONFIDENCE – THE BASICS
So before we dive into the fun stuff of establishing a meditation practice that anyone can do anywhere and anytime, and that is also fun and playful, we need to step back and talk about the basics of meditation and an outline of our 5 day plan.
Why are we starting with 5-minutes?
I believe that everyone can find 5-minutes a day to meditate. If you can’t, then you have deeper issues that meditation is probably not going to help with. I figure that devoting at least 5-minutes a day towards your mental and physical health is a great investment in your self-care.
In fact, you’d be surprised at how QUICKLY you will see results show up in your life just from doing simple 5-minute meditation practices that help you to instantly get out of your head and center yourself.
Centering, or what’s also known as paying attention to the present moment, is what helps you to let go of troublesome thoughts or feelings so that you can give yourself some time and space to refresh, unwind and recharge.
There’s really nothing special about it as it’s basic science. When you stop giving energy away to things that are either based in the past or the future, then you energy can flow more freely in the present.
In short, even if you can be present for just one minute out of every hour, that’s a minute far better spent on your happiness and health than the other 59 minutes of stress and anxiety. Do that fives times during the day – and there’s your 5-minutes.
I prefer to do it all in one block though because for me it creates a deeper unwinding and really clears my head so that I can get on with my day with more focus and less distraction.
Now in order to get started with meditation (or re-started if you’ve done it before) you’ll need to follow some simple guidelines…
Day 1 – Laying The Foundation
Goal: Preparing Yourself For Meditation
Before we can dive into your first meditation session, we need to talk about some of the simple things you can do to prepare your mind and body to meditate.
If you’ve ever tried meditating before only to find that it just wasn’t working for you, or you didn’t feel like you were getting anywhere, then chances are some of the things we’re going to cover here may have been missing.
But before you even sit down to meditate, I think it’s important that we talk about WHY you want to learn to meditate. From a mindset perspective, if you’re reason for wanting to meditate is not very strong then it’s more likely you’ll give up on it fairly easily.
So my first recommendation would be to write down why you are committed to stick with meditation for at least the next 7 days. If you can’t commit to that then perhaps meditation is not for you. The best results and most benefit you will get from meditation is through consistent practice.
Just like when you go to the gym and do reps to train your muscles, the mind can be trained to get better at focusing on the present moment.
When you write down why you are committed to learn to meditate make sure to add-in something emotional so that it’s not just coming from your head. For example, perhaps you are concerned about your blood pressure and you are worried about your health if you don’t learn to deal with stress better.
The emotion here would be that you are afraid of having a stroke or other heart issues and potentially not being there for your family, friends, or loved ones – that’s pretty emotional don’t you think?
By locking in a STRONG reason why you will stick to meditation then you’re giving yourself a mental and emotional edge that many lack when they first start out.
And yes, it is important to write this done (preferably in a journal if you have one) as then you can read this commitment statement out loud to yourself every day to stay motivated and keep going.
Now that we’ve got motivation out of the way the next this is to…
Decide what time of day works best for you to fit in 5-minutes of meditation.
I prefer first thing in the morning because that’s when I do a bunch of things to get my day started with passion, power and peace. Whatever time you decide, add it into your daily schedule (at least for the next five days) and stick to it.
Here’s some other helpful tips:
1. Pick a time – Find a spot when you’re less likely to be disturbed and because it’s only 5-minutes even just before bed is fine. It’s not necessary that the space you meditate in is quiet or Zen like as you’ll find out soon how you can easily relax into meditation no matter whats going on around you.
2. Posture – Meditation can be done sitting, standing, lying down, walking and any number of ways. For now though, we’ll keep it simple and just use a comfy chair or sit on a firm pillow on your bed with your legs crossed. If you can, keep you spine as upright as possible.
3. Clothing – Where loose comfortable clothing that is easy to breathe and relax in. Even being naked is perfectly okay while you meditate.
Day 1 Meditation
Body Scan Meditation – Close your eyes and spend a few minutes scanning your body from your toes to your head and back down again just noticing where you might have any tension being held onto.
This body scan meditation is your first meditation practice. You’re not looking to change or ‘fix’ anything here – just notice as noticing is a BIG part of learning to be mindful. We’ll talk about noticing and mindfulness in the next session.
Now it’s time to…
Day 2 – Fine Tuning Your Practice
Goal: To Keep Meditation Simple and Doable Regardless of Any Roadblocks
Now that you’ve set a time and space that you can practice your meditation and you’ve taken the time to think a bit deeper abut why you want to master it, let’s look at some ways to make sure your mind doesn’t get in the way.
The reason I mention this now is because your mind doesn’t want you to meditate. Once you realize this, then it makes more sense why it can sometimes feel so challenging to stick to it.
The mind either lives in the past or the future. It cannot live in the present moment because that’s not the way it functions. For the mind to be still you either have to in something like a deep sleep state where you’re not even dreaming, or just for a moment you forget to think and a gap arises in your thought stream.
These ‘gaps’ can happen when you are physically exhausted, feeling deeply moved by something that has touched your heart, or you experience a state of flow in which your mind and body are aligned. This alignment is often experienced as ‘being in the zone’ by athletes where everything is effortless.
The second thing to understand is that it’s almost impossible to meditate when you are having strong emotions. The mind and emotions are strongly connected because your thoughts can cause you to feel any number of feelings depending on the thoughts you are having.
If your thoughts are happy then you will feel happy yet if your thoughts are fearful or negative then you will feel anxious or unhappy. While it’s easy to meditate when you’re happy or at peace quite the opposite is true when you are unhappy or agitated.
In a sense, learning to meditate is a great way to train your mind to get used to the experience of being quiet.
While it may not be happy about it, there are ways to to appease your mind so that it doesn’t feel like you are trying to shut it up (even though that may be exactly what you want to happen).
The best way I know to do this is to use mindfulness meditation practices. Mindfulness is known as the practice of paying attention to the present moment with an attitude of non-judgment. I call it noticing the present moment while accepting any thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations that may arise.
How To Handle Your Busy Mind
Now that you know that your mind doesn’t like to not be busy moving from one thought to the next what can you do about it to help make meditating more fun and doable?
It’s actually a lot simpler than you might think… you simply let your mind do what it wants. Now, this may sound a little counter-intuitive yet the crazy thing is it works. Just by giving your mind permission to think whatever it likes, without judging it, that’s when it stops trying to fight you.
Now that you’re not judging your mind, or trying to make it be quiet when it doesn’t want to it doesn’t need to throw a tantrum. There’s still one more thing though that turns this process into a meditation and that’s to give your mind something else to do at the same time that will help it to quiet down.
That’s where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is just about focusing your attention on one thing that keeps it focused on the present moment. This can be your breath, a mantra, your body, sound, a visualization, walking, eating, or pretty much anything that is anchored in the here and now.
When you give your mind a task such as staying focused in the present moment, it will of course object at first because it wants to move in all sorts of directions as that’s far more interesting to it – and that’s perfectly okay.
All you need to do to keep both the mind happy and your meditation progressing is to notice the fact that your mind is wandering and instead of getting upset about it or letting it stop your meditation, simply acknowledge it and then gently bring your mind back to the focus of your meditation – this is the essence of being mindful.
How To Handle Intense Emotions
Emotions come and go like clouds in the sky and they are always triggered by thoughts. The more you dwell on what you are feeling the more intense those feelings become. Ideally, any emotion is meant to last no more than a couple of minutes moving through your body and out of your system.
However, once the mind gets a hold of them, then they can last for hours, days, weeks, months or even years (think grudges).
There’s two things to note about emotions and meditation. The first is that if you are having intense emotions before you sit down to meditate then your first step is to do something physical to help move these emotions from your body. Otherwise your mind will never be able to settle.
This might mean having a good cry, or stomping your feet or screaming into a pillow if you are feeling frustrated or angry, or even just doing some exercise or dancing like nobody’s watching if you want to have a bit more fun to help release pent up emotion.
I normally allow about 5 minutes of intense movement for any emotional state I may be having before meditating. Not only does this let my mind and body know that I am in charge of my mental and emotional state it also gives me a time-frame to ensure that I’m not getting lost in a pity-party.
The second thing to note is that sometimes as you are being present during your meditation and you feel like you are expanding your awareness to include all the sensations you are having you’ll find that images, memories, and long-forgotten thoughts and feelings may arise.
This is perfectly natural and okay. When this happens and it becomes so strong that it draws your attention to it just keep bring your mind back to your breath or whatever your focal point is for your meditation. This is a really great training in dealing with annoying thoughts and feelings during your day.
The less attached you can become to whatever arise in your mind or body – the the happier, healthier and more peaceful your life will be.
So for today
Day 2 Meditation
Observe your thoughts – Since we’ve spent a bit of time talking about being aware of your thoughts and accepting them instead of judging them or getting caught up in them now’s a good time to practice noticing them for a few minutes.
As in your previous meditation session just take a moment to make yourself comfortable, then close your eyes and scan your body from the tip of your toes to the top of your head and then back to your toes again.
Just notice any tension you might be hanging onto in your body for a couple for a minute or two.
Now, start to notice your thoughts. Watch them come and go like clouds in a clear blue sky. As soon as you become aware that you are lost in a thought, then gently bring your mind back to watching your thoughts come and go. Be curious about them and just allow whatever thoughts arise to be there.
Do this for a few minutes and then stop and notice how your mind and body feels.
Let’s have a look now at…
Day 3 – Doing Meditation Your Way
Goal: To Make Meditation Fun & Playful
I’m very big on honoring that you are a 100% unique individual in the world. Yes, we all have certain things in common such as we need to eat, breathe and sleep but we are also completely different from each other is so many ways.
That’s why I like to teach my students to honor themselves first when they are setting up their meditation practice. If you put too many rules on it then it just makes it more challenging to stay interested in or to stick with.
In essence it’s about telling yourself that you matter and however you show up for your meditations is perfect for you… even though everyone else may think they no whats best for you, trust me – they don’t!
Meditating your way means exactly that. Find a meditation teacher, technique, method or app that works for you and make that your meditation. This includes when you mediate, how long you meditate for and what works for you for YOUR self-care practice.
Meditation at it’s core is about self-care which is why you need to put yourself first when it comes to your meditation practice. If you can only do 1-minute of meditation today and 2 minutes tomorrow while your sitting on the toilet – so be it!
Once you get the knack of mindfulness you’ll discover that anywhere and anytime is a good place to be present. You don’t need any special tools or equipment – just some focused attention and letting go of the need to be busy for a few moments.
Heck, I sometimes do 30 second meditations while I am working at my computer. It reminds me to stop and clear my head which helps me to be even more creative and productive because it frees up my energy.
Even though I am suggesting 5-minute meditations here that’s just for this training. What you do after that is up to you.
I firmly believe that meditation is for everyone and that it is way to over complicated by those that don’t really know what they are doing. I believe that there is only one way to meditate and that is your way. However, whenever, and wherever – is completely up to you.
Day 3 Meditation
Mindful Gazing – For this meditation you can do it with your eyes open. I like to use a lit candle that I place at eye level about two to 3 feet away from you. Then just gaze gently at the candle flame for a few minutes with your eyes open. You can either blink or not blink – it’s up to you.
If you notice your mind wandering, just gently bring it back to paying attention to the candle flame. This is a really good exercise in focusing the mind and you can also extend it to looking at anything you can see such as trees, water, clouds, rocks, or anything at all.
Once you’ve finished with your gazing, gently close your eyes and notice how your mind and body feels.
Now it’s time to look at some simple ways to deepen your meditation journey…
Day 4 – Simple Brain Hacks For Deeper Meditation
Goal: To Experience Deeper Focus & Relaxation
Now that we’ve started training the brain to reduce things like stress and anxiety while improving concentration, attention, mood and well-being it’s time to look at some simple mind-body hacks to help deepen your meditation practice..
This is your chance to open up your mind and body to a world of ever deepening inner peace, happiness, and feeling good about yourself, so let’s do it!.
1. What is The Best Posture To Use?
It really depends on the meditation you are doing.
As well as sitting meditations there are moving meditations, standing meditations, and even meditations where you are lying down. Forget the image of a zen monk sitting with legs crossed like a pretzel as they normally start out meditating as children.
While you are learning to meditate the ideal position for meditation is one that allows you to stay upright, focused, and alert so that the energy in your body can flow from the base of your spine to your head with minimal interruption.
This teaches you to stay conscious while en-training your brainwaves to slow down during meditation.
However, as one of the outcomes of meditation is to feel more relaxed, if your intuition tells you to lie down to do a guided meditation then go for it. If you fall asleep that may be the best thing for you as your body is obviously tired and needs some rest.
Once again, there are no rules to how you meditate – there’s just what works for you.
Oh, and by the way, one of my favorite ways to meditate is standing up. I’m able to meditate deeply for up to an hour while standing still and my body feels more energized than when I started at the end.
I don’t recommend this for beginners but it proves to me that meditation can be done however you like.
2. The Truth About Expectations And Meditation.
Now this is a huge one. One of the reasons many people quit before they get to reap the full benefits of meditation is because they have unrealistic expectations around what ‘should’ happen.
The simple mind hack I want to give you here is to drop any expectations of how meditation should look or feel for you. There is no right or wrong way to meditate and there is no right or wrong result you are meant to experience.
Every meditation you do will be unique whether your mind knows it or not. If you can learn to drop any expectations of how your meditations should look or feel then you won’t be putting unrealistic demands on your meditation practice.
As long as you just show up for your meditation each day for however long you can commit to the results will come of their own accord. Every time you show-up to meditate it has an impact on your brain and body whether you know it consciously or not.
Remember, meditation at it’s core is a like a gym workout for the mind… and as you and I know your ego can buck up when it comes to improving mental or physical fitness.
Instead, just trust in the process of showing up each day and overtime you will naturally start to see the amazing benefits of daily meditation unfolding in your life.
By the way, once you master the art of not having any expectations around your meditations you can then apply it to other areas of your life.
When you let go of any expectations to do with the future and just allow life to unfold naturally and find a way to be grateful for whatever arises, then you can enjoy an anxiety free life. This might not happen overnight but it gets easy overtime as you learn to stop judging the way things are.
It’s true because I have been doing it for years. This doesn’t mean you don’t have goals. It means you don’t get overly attached to specific outcomes.
3. What About Distractions?
Distractions are going to happen during your meditation.
From pets and children to sounds and smells, there’s no lack of things to challenge your focus and attention. The easiest way to deal with any distraction is to accept it without getting upset about it. I call this having relaxed awareness. Just being aware of them and then making a choice as to where to focus.
If I choose to leave my meditation room door open and one of my dogs walks in for attention I don’t let that distract from my meditation – I make it part of my meditation.
I will either ignore them and just be aware of them sniffing or nudging me, or I will consciously open my eyes, look at them and with meditative awareness give them a cuddle and then close my eyes again and return to the focus of my meditation. Nine times out of ten they’ll either lay down and go to sleep or leave because they are bored.
Just by switching your mindset to one of allowance with whatever distractions are happening and making them a part of your meditation experience, including your thoughts and feelings, makes meditating ten times easier and more fun. .
Most importantly, never let distractions be the reason you don’t meditate. They will help you to become more focused in a non-judgmental way which will help you to rapidly become less judgmental in your outer world.
4. What About Food and Drink?
It’s a good idea to not eat just before meditating as the body is busy digesting food and it may be hard to stay awake. I allow at least 1 hour for food to digest before I meditate.
It is however good to drink water before you meditate as that helps you to stay focused and more alert.
When your body is hydrated energy can flow easier through the body and brain which helps you to stay awake as your brainwaves slow down during meditation.
Even being hungry can be used as a tool for mindfulness meditation. It only requires that you pay attention to the physical sensations in your body that being hungry is creating without judging them. Just notice them and be aware without having to label or analyse them.
Start of with just a minute or two if you do this meditation and then progress as long as you like. You’ll find that when you do eat you’ll enjoy your food with much more appreciation and joy.
Day 4 Meditation
Mindful Listening – This is a super simple practice.
Get comfortable either sitting or lying down and then take a minute or two to scan your body from top to bottom. Just notice anywhere that you feel any tension is being held onto.
Once you have completed that then take a moment to become aware of the sounds that are happening around you. Try not top focus on any one sound just let your awareness take in as many sounds as you can hear.
As you listen to the sounds allow them to move in and through you without being disturbed. There’s no need to judge or analyse them – just notice them like clouds floating by in the sky.
This meditation is also one that is very easy to practice anywhere and anytime that you are not required to speak and is deeply centering once you get the knack of it.
So congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of day 4 and by now are well on your way to making your meditation practice a daily habit. Let’s take a look at what else you can do to help ease this life-transforming tool into your everyday life…
Day 5 – The Easy Way To Make It A Daily Habit
Goal: To Establish Your Meditation Practice
After today – you’re going to have all the tools you’ll need to meditate with confidence. That’s pretty awesome, wouldn’t you agree!
So let’s not waste anytime – let’s just get right into the content!
Have you ever heard the saying, “happiness is a way of life and not a destination”?
You may have because it’s totally true. Most people are so busy rushing through life trying desperately to catch up or get ahead that they forget to enjoy the journey. This not only results in a stressful life it can also lead to all sorts of mental, physical and emotional health issues.
So what’s the solution? It’s to give yourself permission to slow down and re-group your energy each day in a self-caring way by getting into the habit of daily meditation. Is meditation the only way to do this – of course not! But it is free, it is convenient and it is proven to work.
That’s why the secret to making meditation, or anything of value work in your life is to master the art of developing new habits.
Habits are the cornerstone of excellence no matter what area of your life you’re looking to change.
You’ll be surprised how many people miss out on so much goodness in their life just because they stay stuck in unproductive or unhealthy habits.
How To Master The Power of Habits.
The biggest thing that has an impact on your health, happiness, wealth and relationships are the habitual things you think, say and do every day.
It makes sense then that to get different results or permanently shift the quality of your life then you need to makes changes in the way you think or behave.
That’s why, the easiest way to make meditation a daily habit is to simply set an intention around what your habit will look like and then schedule it in. This will make it real and then all you need to do is follow through with it and not allow any excuses to get in the way.
Schedule it into your day at a time that works best for you. Don’t worry about how long you are going to meditate for because as we discussed previously this is your meditation and you need to do what works for you.
Let me let you in on a little secret to how you can remember to apply your new habit every day – this is what makes ALL the difference…
When I create a new daily habit I connect it to something I already do every day.
For example, I always have a large glass of water when I get up in the morning and straight after that I meditate for 20 to 30 minutes. I also meditate just before dinner each day for 20 to 30 minutes so I link meditation with having dinner – that’s my trigger to do it!
“By linking in your meditation habit with something you already do it makes it easier to remember and follow through on.”
New habits need to be reinforced and if you can stick with your meditation habit for 30 days in a row then it’ll be a habit you’ll be able to benefit from for the rest of your life.
So your action step for today is to decide on what you are going to link your meditation practice to.
Then set a reminder on your phone or in your calendar to do it daily for the next 30 days. .
Keep in mind that you can use mindful meditation when walking, eating, jogging, sitting on a train or in a car, washing your teeth, or any activity you can think of. It’s just the knack of observing what you are doing with non-judgmental awareness.
There’s no specific meditation practice for today as I want you to make a decision about what you are going to hook into that will trigger a reminder in your head to meditate.
Choose any of the previous days mindfulness exercises that we have done and use that for today’s practice session.
Meditating With Confidence Now What?
Getting into the habit of meditating with confidence is a HUGE milestone for your inner peace, happiness and overall well-being.
It’s when things start to feel easier.
You start to feel happy for no reason at all!
People are more drawn to you!
Your creativity suddenly goes crazy (in the best of ways)!
And your quality of life feels lighter, freer, and more connected!
Not meditations are created equal, so the next step is to answer this question:
What do I really want to do with my life?
That’s it – it’s that simple.
If you followed this post over the past 5 days you’ve developed some new skills, tested out some meditation methods, and of course, gained more confidence.
Now it’s about what felt good, what else is possible in your life, and just how much better your life can be as a result of having even more meditations and mind tools to uplift your performance at life.
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If you’d like to download my FREE meditation app Meditation Dojo, where I guide you through a 7 day mindfulness training program using 5-minute mindfulness exercises, then you can download it here if you use iTunes, or download it here if you use Android.