Depending on who you ask, meditation can mean different things, given how many diverse ways there are to meditate. But one question that often comes to mind is, especially for newcomers, what counts as meditation? Can it just be done by focusing on your breath?
Fortunately, meditating is far simpler than it seems. Many have the notion that it’s important to sit in a specific position to meditate, and while there are different methods to meditate that would involve sitting in a certain position, the reality is that meditation can be as simple as focusing on the present moment.
So, focusing on your breath, as long as it brings you to the present moment, can count as meditation. In reality, being present or doing anything you enjoy doing, (which often brings you to the present), can count as meditation.
How Do You Start Meditating?
The easiest meditation you can do is before you go to sleep. Focusing on your breath, or having your mind blank, but always staying within the present.
Meditation can even be as simple as keeping your mind blank, depending on what type of meditation. There are even guided meditations that instruct participants to keep their mind blank, and there’s a good reason for this.
Meditation is like a sort of recovery that lets us unwind, a way to charge our batteries. We have thousands of thoughts everyday. Meditating is a way to take a break from that. One problem with meditation though, is that some consider it hard.
There’s this perception of what meditation should be like. Meditation is far simpler than it seems. Starting meditation is as simple as focusing on your breath, having no thoughts or being present while doing something you enjoy. This of course, goes against common belief that meditation has to be a certain way.
There’s No Wrong Way To Meditate
This brings me to the second point. In a way, meditation is finding out what works for you. You can feel more at peace depending on which meditation you do.
Some prefer to be guided throughout the process, while some prefer to do it on their own. No matter which approach is taken, the hardest part about meditating is not letting the mind get distracted by the future of the past. It’s not uncommon for our minds to start focusing on the future or the past, since that’s what we’ve programmed it to up until this point.
That is, until meditation comes in and breaks this programming, so the mind can have some rest. There’s a sense of busyness, or always having to do something, because otherwise we don’t feel as productive.
But it can be compared to playing chess, if you don’t take a step back from the game, even for a few seconds, it’d be harder to anticipate the opponents next move. In this case, meditation is a way to step back, to see things in a third person perspective and allow things to be.
The act of meditation goes hand in hand with non-judgment. It’s a tool to improve our spiritual development. And of course, while meditation carries many benefits, one of them generally being improved mood, concentration and happiness, it’s not a fix for everything.
Who Is Meditation For?
Meditation is generally for everyone and has no barriers to entry. There’s no wrong reasons to get into it, but it can especially benefit you if you’re curious, seeking ways to unwind in a natural way without depending on something external, or just want to improve your quality of life.
That’s right, I said without relying on something external to unwind, because in a way, meditation is liberating in the sense that you can do it 24 hours a day, all from shifting your thoughts to what’s happening at the time.
The present isn’t always pretty, but the more you learn to live with the present, the less your mind is eager to escape to the future or past. Meditation is a great way to comfort you with the present. It’s no secret we’ll gravitate to what’s easy or pleasant, or sometimes what we don’t want to happen by focusing on an uncertain future. But neither the future or the past exist anymore. It’s just “the now” we have to work with.
Why Focus On The Breath
As the title of this article suggests, breathing is one of the easiest ways to shift your attention to what’s actually happening. When you’re in a meditative state, and you feel a certain way, be it sad, angry or happy, instead of reacting to that, you can take note of that, because you are watching yourself from a third-person perspective.
Taking note of that, and seeing those emotions “floating” can give you a higher sense of control, in the sense that you may be able to manage some of these emotions to a greater degree. More so considering that the act of meditation goes hand in hand with non-judgment.
The less you judge yourself, the easier it is to grow. Because the judgment many times presents itself as an obstacle. Judgment can come from different places, but the judgment that comes from yourself, and your interpretation of a situation, can multiply its meaning and therefore, affect your self-esteem, thus discouraging any personal growth.
It’s no secret that one of the major benefits of meditation is that it can boost your confidence. Of course, it’s not gonna happen overnight, but you can start meditating by simply focusing on your breath a few minutes a day.
If you’re not sure you’ll be able to commit to meditation, start with 5 minutes of focusing on your breath daily, and it’ll be enough to introduce you to a practice that could have a life-changing impact on you, you may not see any changes with such a short time span but it’s definitely a start. From there, start increasing it, till you can at least meditate for at least twenty minutes daily.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be exclusively focusing on your breath how you start. Some people are more visual, in which case, focusing on your surroundings would also do. Feel free to experiment and find what works for you, so long as you’re able to stay focused on what you’re doing, and without the baggage of worry, you’ll be moving in the right direction.
Meditation Gets Easier The More You Do It
As with everything, starting with meditation can be hard. It’s all about making the first step and letting it go from there. It’s common to think that we don’t have time to meditate, often because we associate it with something boring.
But start with small steps, and you’ll find it easier. Don’t set the expectation to meditate for 1 hour if you’ve never meditated before. Big changes come slowly, and consistency is key. At the beginning, being consistent is probably more important than how often you meditate, you need to find something that suits you, based on your personality and what you know of yourself as a person.
Overtime, the longer you’re able to meditate, the easier it becomes and the more evident the benefits of meditation will be noticeable. Small improvements each day compound and after a full year of meditation, it could be enough to transform you into a completely different person. So powerful is meditation that many monks meditate for hours a day.
There’s nothing like experiencing yourself. At the end of the day, I can tell you about all the benefits of meditation, but you’ll only understand how life-changing they are once you have first-hand experience.
That being said, if you’re getting started with meditation, don’t let anyone make you think it’s harder than it should. The more you end up doing it, the more you’ll find yourself wanting to do it. It’s one of those positive habits that pays to be obsessed with. Obsession is often portrayed negatively, but if you use obsession for your own benefit, in this case, meditation, obsession can change your life.