Do you remember when you did a plank for the first time?
I can’t remember when I first started that particular exercise but I do remember feeling:
OMG, a minute feels like an eternity!
Time was SO slow.
I could barely hold my position, grunting and collapsing.
When I saw others do, it looked super easy.
If you had a similar experience with planks, multiply that difficulty by 100x.
That’s how difficult meditation was for me.
But now I do planks for 5+ minutes easy peasy (yay me, ha!).
So, there’s hope for meditation too (I think).
If you’re struggling with mediation or thinking about starting to practise meditation, my experience may offer you some insight.
Just for a complete beginner to meditation, below are scientifically proven benefits of meditation:
- Increases your attention span
- Reduces stress, anxiety and depression
- Promotes emotional wellbeing
- Improves physical and mental health
Basically, good for mind and body!
You may have a different reason for trying meditation.
Mine was to tame my attention span.
My focus and productivity were dwindling and I really, really wanted to use my time wisely.
Every precious minute wasted is gone forever.
Hence the much-anticipated magic of meditation.
But Meditation is Hard
So if you failed in your first few attempts, you are not alone.
For a beginner, that’s normal and absolutely fine.
I learned that it’s important you don’t get stressed over it.
If you get upset or stressed in the process, it defeats the whole purpose of meditation.
It’s supposed to be stress-relieving practice, not stress inducer!
Most importantly, we are not competing with anyone.
When I first fell over doing planks or tree pose, I laughed at myself.
I found it genuinely funny.
You’d think that it’s easy to control your mind and body: it’s yours, after all.
A wonderful thing about learning something new though is knowing that your power is in repetition.
We can master almost anything with repetition so long as we’re committed to it.
Imagine Empty Bin or Calm Sea
A small bin under my desk gets filled up really quickly.
The bin reminds me of my mind filled with millions of thoughts overflowing.
Or imagine riding on a stormy sea with strong waves and winds.
My mind full of garbage kept me restless like riding on a stormy sea.
So I imagine the end result, emptying everything out of the bin (my mind) and feeling the calm sea.
When my mind starts to wander, I visualise a blue sea and feel a calmness wash over me.
Count Your Breathing
Visualisation works great for me but I know it can be hard if you aren’t used to it.
Your mind keeps going off… to a grocery list, a conversation with a neighbour or your to-do list.
That’s when a 4-5-6 breathing technique comes in handy.
Feel free to replace it with a prevailing 4-7-8 technique.
I like the former because it’s easy to remember. I’m simple like that. ha.
When I first tried this breathing technique, I often got confused: “is it belly in or out?” (duh!).
As you breathe in (belly out) through the nose, count 4 slowly, hold it for 5 and breath out (belly in) through the mouth for 6.
Some say breathing out should be twice longer than breathing in which explains 4-7-8.
Others say it’s fine as long as exhaling is slower (longer) than inhaling.
I stick to 4-5-6 for convenience.
Either way, it’s very effective to prevent your mind from wandering off as you focus on counting (no multitasking here but counting and breathing!).
A minute or 20 Minutes
If you’re like me, you’ll find 20 minutes meditation quite challenging in the beginning.
What worked for me: start slowly with a minute every day. Increase it to 3 minutes or 5 minutes as you get more comfortable.
The length of meditation isn’t as important as consistency.
A minute is infinitely better than zero practice.
When and Where
A good thing about meditation is you can do anywhere anytime. You don’t need special equipment to practise it, either.
Morning is usually the best time for me.
But I also do a quick meditation during the day when I feel distracted or overwhelmed with too many things.
Although I haven’t “mastered” meditation yet, I’m definitely enjoying its progress so far.
With repeated practice, I know it will become as easy as planks!
I thoroughly recommend you add meditation to your personal growth journey and enjoy all the benefits meditation can offer.
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