beginners guide to meditation

I’m guessing you’re here because you want to learn about meditation? I thought so! Everywhere you turn at the moment, there are articles about the benefits of meditation and it seems like all the celebs are jumping on the bandwagon too. Well, I’ve been meditating for about a year and I can tell you that what they say is all true! Meditation helped me through an incredibly stressful time in my life last year, it helped me stay calm, feel grounded and let things go. If I hadn’t been meditating throughout that time I don’t know how I’d have coped with my stress levels. I even got up extra early to meditate on the day I moved house… my first house move for 13 years!

Before I started meditating I wanted to learn everything I could about it. What I really wanted to know was, what are the benefits? Why meditate? How do you meditate?  To say I did my research is an understatement! So I’ll try to answer those three basic questions now.

What are the benefits of meditation?

For a start off meditation strengthens the brain. Think of it as a workout for your brain. It’s the same concept as excercising to strengthen the muscles in your body only meditation exercises your brain to strengthen it. And when you strengthen the brain, your concentration and memory improve too. Meditation has also been proven to help to reduce stress, anxiety and depresson. Meditation helps us to control our emotions and deal with stressful situations. There’s also the added health benefits of better quality of sleep, lower blood pressure and lower risk of heart disease.

Why meditate?

Everyone meditates for different reasons. It’s personal to you so you decide what you want to get out of it. Many come to meditation for the health benefits. Others begin meditation to free themselves from fear, angry or painful thoughts. Or you might want to start meditating to find a sense of calm, clarity and peace. Many meditate to find greater self understanding, improve their intuitive powers or deepen their spiritual awareness. The fact that you’re here reading his means that you have an interest in meditation, so take a few moments to think about what you want to get out of meditation.

beginners guide to meditation

How to meditate?

Meditation is incredibly simple. You don’t need to sit for hours on the floor in the lotus position! There really is no wrong way to meditate. I’m going to show you a very simple way to meditate that’s great as an introduction for beginners.

First set a timer for how long you’d like to meditate. You can start at just 5 minutes and add a few more each day until you’re doing 20-30 minutes a day.

Make sure you’re sitting or lying in a comfortable position. I like to sit on my bed with my back supported and my legs crossed. There’s no particular reason for this, I just find it really comfortable.

Gently close your eyes.

Take a really slow deep breath in and completely fill your lungs then slowly let your breath out. Do this 3 times. With each exhale feel your body letting go of stress and tension and feel more and more relaxed.

Breath normally now and keep your awareness on your breathing. Just observe the rising and falling sensation that it creates in your body. Notice where these sensations occur –  your belly, your chest, your nose, or anywhere else. Feel the breath as it enters and leaves your nose. Feel the breath filling up and leaving your lungs. Feel your chest and belly rising and falling.

Now you can silently count your breaths: 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale, 3 on the next inhale, and so on, up to 10. Then start again at 1. It’s perfectly normal to drift off to thoughts and physical feelings. Don’t worry if you do, just bring your awareness back to your breath and carry on counting. Continue until the timer sounds.

Spend a few moments just sitting and enjoy the feeling of peace and calm.

As I said, this is a very simple meditation for beginners. You might like to try a guided meditation where you listen to someone talking you through the meditation. There are literally millions of guided meditations out there but I like the Calm app and Stop, Breathe & Think app. Davidji is one of my favourite meditation teachers so I would recommend having a look at his website too.

Finally my two top tips for meditation…. COMMITMENT AND CONSISTENCY! It’s essential to commit to the practice of meditation and be consistent. No matter how long you can spare, even if it’s just 5 minutes each day, it’s more important to meditate for a short time each day than just meditate a couple of times a week. Commit to meditating every day and you’ll receive some wonderful benefits – it’s a gift to your soul.

Follow:

How to be happier

I’ve had my kitten Bob since he was 8 weeks old. He’s now 6 months old and I love him almost as much as my own children! He’s a wonderful cat, he has a lovely temperament, loves cuddles, plays with the kids and he basically rules the house. The thing with cats though is they don’t give much away. What I mean is, you can’t really tell how they’re feeling. The other day I found myself asking my fella ‘Do you think Bob is really happy?’ His answer was yeah of course he is!

That question really sums me up. All I want is for everyone to be happy. Not in a people-pleasing kind of way. But in a ‘finding true happiness in their soul’ kind of way. When I started journalling last year, I wrote my mission for the year as ‘To find true happiness and help others find true happiness’. So I’ve pulled together a list of all the things I’ve learned that will help your happiness levels soar.

Be grateful. At the end of a seriously crappy day, being grateful might be the last thing on your mind. But simply sitting down with a notepad and pen for a few minutes at the end of the day and writing down three things you’re grateful for is guaranteed to lift your spirits. Being thankful for what you have and you’ll end up having more amazing things in your life.

Get out in nature. Getting out in the fresh air is an amazing body and mind cleanser. Taking a walk or going for a run is a great way to help you think things through, reflect on life and ground yourself. Personally I love to walk barefoot on grass (yes I’m a secret hippy), I instantly feel calmer and more centred.

Journal.  Get yourself a lovely big notebook or something more structured like The Daily Greatness Journal that I use, and pour everything out. Let your mind empty itself onto that blank page to leave space for lots of positivity and loveliness.

Meditate. You don’t have to sit in the lotus position with your palms upturned for hours and hours! Meditating can take only 5-10 minutes a day. So find somewhere quiet and make yourself comfortable either sitting or laying down. If you’re new to meditating, try an app like Calm or Stop, Breathe and Think which provide free guided meditations. The benefits of regular meditation are immense and it’s been scientifically proven to help with depression, anxiety and stress.

Give. Life sometimes feels like you all you do is give give give. But making a conscious decision to give without expecting anything in return is life changing. Give to charity, give your time or just give your love. Even if you never wish for anything in return, it will come back to you in ways you can’t imagine.

Don’t compare yourself to to others. As the well known saying goes ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. Social media is a huge culprit for making us compare ourselves to all those little people in our phone. It may look like they’ve got a perfect life but are their perfectly styled, sunlit, filtered photos a true picture of their lives? Take a break from social media and instead focus on being grateful for your beautiful imperfect life.

Live in the now. I know it’s a cliché but this is a big one. Dwelling on the past or constantly worrying about the future stops us from enjoying life here and now. The present moment is the only moment we have control over so let go of the rest, live in the now and decide make it amazing.

Just say no. Do you find yourself saying yes to everything then finding yourself so stretched that you feel like you’re going to snap? Saying no takes practice and must be done with respect and grace but if something doesn’t make your life more lovely don’t do it. My big tip for saying no is to go with your gut feeling. If we’re asked to do something, we usually have that initial reaction in our head of yes or no. This instinct is there for a reason, to make us slow down and live a slower, more peaceful, happier life.

Do what lights you up. Wouldn’t you rather spend your day doing something that really lights you up, rather than something you have absolutely no passion for? If you’re not sure what lights you up ask yourself these questions – What makes you feel whole? What would you do if you had all the money in the world? What makes you happy every single time you do it? If you love photography, take photos. If you love making things, get creative. If you love cuddles, hug someone. If you love dancing, get moving!

Self care. You can’t look after anyone else, if you don’t look after yourself first. So get enough sleep. Go for a run. Cook your favourite meal. Get a manicure. Dance to music you love. Snuggle up with a good book or your journal. Have a candle lit bath with some gorgeous bubble bath, listening to some soothing music. I could go on and on. The point is make time for yourself, do something that makes you happy.

I could go on forever about the many things you can do to be happier but these are my top ten tips. Start small and pick the one that stands out to you and really embrace it. Then introduce another, then another. Each little step adds up to big positive changes.

Follow:

Life, Lately

I’ve always liked reading ‘Life, lately’ posts, they bring out the nosy parker in me. So I thought I’d share a little peek into my life every now and then. Here’s what my life looks like lately…

Photographing… the snow. I woke up to the scene above on Sunday morning. As the seasons change it makes me even more grateful for living where I do. I love looking out of the window and feeling like I’m in the countryside (when actually I live very close to the town!)

ReadingThe Little Book of Peace by Cherry Menlove. This self help book feels like it was written especially for me. There are 101 short chapters that cover everything you can think of to bring more peace into your life. I can’t put it down.

Cooking… lots of healthy but comforting food as I’ve just joined Slimming World. I just made mashed potato pizza (yes really!) and actually loved it.

Watching… comedies. The fella loves comedies especially anything starring Will Ferrell so we’ve been watching some of his films. Last night was ‘Anchorman’… totally ridiculous but absolutely hilarious. Laughter really is the best medicine!

Listening toFree to Flourish radio. In these weekly podcasts by Gemma Sands, she chats about heart-led living and how to live your best life. Truly thought provoking and inspirational listening.

Making… milky decaf coffee. I didn’t drink coffee until I was 30, but I can’t live without it now. I switched to decaf last year and have seen some amazing benefits to my health, like fewer headaches and better sleep.

Planning… ideas for blog posts. I have so much I want to share with you about how to live a happier and more peaceful life. I also want to start designing my first e-course.

Believing… that my website is going to be a huge success and will help and inspire lots of lovely people.

Dreaming… of spring! I can’t wait until the days are lighter and warmer. I just love seeing everything blooming and growing, the leaves budding on the trees and everything coming back to life. It’s my favourite season.

Loving… my fella for being generally amazing but especially for setting up my website and then sorting everything out when it got hacked!

Learning… about the importance of securing your website and choosing an appropriate password!

Grateful… for my family. We all went out for lovely family meal to celebrate my dad’s 66th birthday yesterday. We’re a family who loves to eat so that’s our favourite way to celebrate!

How’s your life been lately? I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to.

Follow:

my word for 2016

This is my first year of choosing a guiding word. At the start of 2015 I chose a word. Then I changed it. And changed it again. Then forgot about it. I can’t even remember what the words were now. So this year I’m determined to choose a guiding word and really live it. My word for 2016 is going to guide and insire me throughout the year.

First a little look back at last year. At the start of this year I did Susannah Conway’s “Unravelling the Year Ahead” workbook which starts by looking back over 2015. The words I chose to describe my 2015 were love, change and growth. I wasn’t very good at embracing change at the start of 2015. I’m still working on it actually but I’m getting better. I had to be, as last year was packed full of changes, the biggest of which was a long overdue (and very stressful) house move, but it was the best thing I ever did and I feel so happy and settled now. 2015 was also a year of huge personal growth and self-development for me and was filled with lots of love.

Why did I choose ‘Believe’? Well in early December when I started thinking about choosing my word for 2016, my overwhelming feeling was to choose ‘peace’. At the time I was feeling stressed about the run up to christmas, both my children’s birthdays and I was craving a peaceful life. I signed up for Susannah Conway’s ‘Find Your Word‘ e-course to double check if I’d chosen the right word and at the end was still happy with ‘Peace’.

However my stress passed and I started to question if ‘Peace’ felt right. I didn’t feel like it was enough. I didn’t feel like it would push me and take me out of my comfort zone, which I knew I needed to do. A few other words I considered were nourish, shine, grow and brave. All really amazing guiding words. When I looked up the definitions of the words though, they just didn’t feel right. Then on 30th December, the word ‘Believe’ popped into my head and I knew it was the one. It chose me!

How will I ‘Believe’ in 2016?

I believe I can do or be anything I want to.
I believe I am enough.
I believe everything happens for a reason at the right time.
I believe I love and nurture myself.
I believe I will achieve all my goals and dreams.
I believe I can help and inspire people to be the best they can be.

These words will be my mantras guiding me through the coming 12 months. To me ‘Believe’ is the opposite of ‘doubt’. I love the idea of being able to hold absolute confidence in anything I choose, without having proof of the outcome, without having to fully know why and without being filled with fear or doubt.

Have you chosen a guiding word for the year? What’s your word?

Follow:

hello world

It’s the start of a new year and I’m so excited to launch my new website. I’ve been thinking of creating a website for a long time but wanted to wait until I really felt ready. But when do you ever feel ready for something new and scary? I’d probably still be waiting for the right moment but instead I decided to just take the plunge. Andit is scary but vry exciting too!

The past couple of years have been full of change and growth for me. The end of my marriage and the star of a wonderful new relationship. A long overdue very stressful house move. The beginnings of a career change. And a whole new outlook on life.

I’ve learned so much over the last year that I want to share with you. I’ve discovered meditation, journalling, self development, self care, visualisation, positive thinking, the power of affirmations and spirituality.

I want this place to be full of happiness, positivity and light.

I hope you’ll come back soon.

Debra x

 

Follow: