My first attempt at meditating was far from a zen experience. I attempted to shut my eyes for maybe seven minutes max with the hope that, at the end of my session, I’d become a much more relaxed human being.
That wasn’t the case. I found it nearly impossible—my brain went on a field trip of sorts, and I started beating myself up for not being able to quiet my mind. FYI, meditation isn’t supposed to make you feel bad about yourself, but it did in that moment. However, through time and lots of practice, I got better. I’m by no means a pro at providing meditation tips, but I can get through seven minutes without freaking out. Still, I seek out any advice I can on how to make the act easier, so I chatted with life coach, meditation teacher, and philosophy wellbeing ambassador Gabby Bernstein on her best tricks for making this activity easier to tackle.
1. Pick a quiet spot.
According to Bernstein, not meditating in a private and quiet location is one of the biggest mistakes people make when beginning their practice. “If you’re meditating in your living room, you’re likely to get interrupted easily,” she says. She suggests finding that quiet place and letting those around you, whether that be your family, friends or roommates, know you’ll be in practice.
2. Find your pulse.
For the newbie meditator, Bernstein recommends trying a technique from her book, Miracles Now. Apparently you can reap the benefits in only one minute. “I call it ‘Peace Is in Your Pulse’ because it improves your concentration and brings calm to even the most scattered mind,” she explains. Here’s Bernstein’s instructions for mastering it yourself.
1. To begin, sit comfortably cross-legged on the floor.
2. Lightly close your eyes and focus on the space between your eyebrows (the third-eye point), notes Bernstein.
3. The mantra (repeated phrase) is Sat Nam, which Bernstein says means “truth identified.”
4. The hand position (mudra) is simple. Place the four fingers of your right hand on your left wrist and feel your pulse. The fingers are in a straight line, lightly pressed on the wrist so you can feel your pulse in each fingertip, she explains.
5. On each beat of your pulse, she explains to mentally hear the sound of Sat Nam.
3. Try meditating for just one minute.
You might not think that a measly 60 seconds can do much for your zen, but according to Bernstein, it’s enough to change your life. To calm your energy, she recommends the below series for one minute each day.
1. Breathe in for 5 seconds
2. Hold your breath for 5 seconds
3. Release for 5 seconds
4. Hold for 5 seconds
4. Make it a daily habit.
Does practice make perfect? Well, according to Bernstein, the only way to get better at meditation is to incorporate it into your daily routine. She recommends using the app Streak, which helps track your goals.
5. Meditate to lyric-free music.
While Bernstein says that music can help you unwind, she recommends you stick to songs that don’t have lyrics, as it could become a distraction from your practice.
6. Use a mantra.
If you can’t seem to stop your mind from wondering off (you know, recapping the day’s events, going through your mental grocery list), Bernstein says you may benefit from mediating with a mantra, properly known as Kundalini meditation. Bernstein’s technique below will help you get started.
1. Begin by gently pressing your thumb against your index finger, then your middle finger, then your ring finger, then your pinkie finger. Breathe deeply as you repeat the phrases below.
2. When you touch your index finger, say: PEACE
3. When you touch your middle finger, say: BEGINS
4. When you touch your ring finger, say: WITH
5. When you touch your pinkie finger, say: ME
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