Mental Health Matters: A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
What is it?
Meditation is the practice of concentrated focus on something (your breath, a sound, a visualisation, etc.), originally used for spiritual purposes but now also used to aid relaxation, mindfulness and mental health.
When should I do it?
The time of day is completely up to you. Some people enjoy meditation in the morning to set them up for the day while others prefer the afternoon or just before bed. Whenever you choose, make sure it fits in with your day; trying to relieve stress by forcing yourself into an uncomfortable routing will be counter productive.
How should I approach it?
Depending on your personality, meditation could either seem like the most logical thing in the world, or the most ridiculous. If you are going to try it, make sure you start with an open mind (doing anything for the first time feels strange) and don’t expect miraculous results, such as all your anxiety completely disappearing, straight away. Rather, look at meditation as a skill to hone and perfect in a way that suits you.
Where should I start?
Online guided meditations or meditation apps are a great way to find out if the practice is right for you, and how to go about it. However, That Nursery Life have put together some basic guidelines to start you on your journey:
- Set a timer to remove the worry of overrunning (or, if you’re tired, falling asleep) and missing an appointment. Be realistic with your expectations; don’t set your timer for an hour and expect some top-quality meditation to start off with. Instead, start small with five or ten-minute sessions. It’s more important to practice frequently at this point, to get into the habit.
- Make sure you’re comfortable. The classic image of sitting cross-legged may work for you or, after a few minutes, it might just cause pain! Sitting in a chair or lying down are perfectly fine positions for meditating. Just try not to fall asleep!
- Make sure you’re meditating somewhere quiet. This may be easier said than done, depending on your home/family dynamics. In this case, practising early in the morning or just before bed may help – when the outside world is less noisy and any little ones are in bed.
- Adding some relaxing music or aromatherapy oils may help in putting you in a calm, meditative state of mind. Lavender is an excellent choice for calming aromatherapy, and there are plenty of music options online.
What am I aiming for?
The idea of meditation is to allow your brain to focus to a point where outside distractions are not even noticed. Guided meditations can help with suggestions and visualisations, or you can just think about the music playing (if you’ve opted for music) or imagine some relaxing images. The point is to calm any distracting mental chatter and ignore thoughts and worries for a few minutes, aiming to release any underlying tension and allow your body and mind to relax a little more.
For meditation app suggestions, take a look at TNL’s article listing our Top 5 Mental Health Apps.