Mindfulness and meditation: two words that are easier said than done! If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably tried (and struggled) with meditation before, only to be discouraged and forget your practice all together (been there, done that!). That being said, there’s a reason they call it a “practice” – that sh*t takes time and it really is a matter of persevering until you get to the good stuff! Of course, a few useful tips for getting started in the best way possible, never went astray.
Keen to pick up your practice? Starting out for the very first time? We spoke to Tom Cronin, leading meditation teacher and Founder of The Stillness Project, and got his top five meditation tips for beginners:
1. Prepare Your Space
Preparing your space for meditation will help you have a deeper and calmer meditation. This involves finding a quiet room or area that has as little stimulation for your senses as possible. This could mean dimming the lights, minimal noise, no wind or external movement. Examples of great quiet places could include a church, a parked car in a quiet street or your garage, and a small quiet room. The senses process information all around you and meditation is about going inward away from the outer world. The less your senses have to process, the better it is for going inward.
2. Be Comfortable
Often we see images of people meditating in lotus position (cross-legged) with their thumb and fore finger in a circle (called mudra). Indeed this is a posture for advanced yogis to sit in for long periods of meditation. Is it comfortable? Not if you have been sitting in an office chair for nine hours a day for the last twelve years of your life! Within minutes your back will be screaming out at you, your knees will feel like you have a nail in them and your hips will be on fire. It doesn’t have to be this way. I recommend finding a comfortable chair with a supportive back. I like padded chairs because I’m skinny and bony and the more comfortable you are, the easier the meditation.
3. Awareness of Breath
One simple meditation that you can do is to sit and observe your breath. In this meditation, you are going to centre the mind using the rhythm of the breath. When the mind is centred, you are in the now and all the conflict and tension the arises from not being in the now dissolves. So close your eyes and notice how your breath flows in and out of your body. As it does, observe how it moves through the rim of the nostrils and slightly cools the skin there. Keep your awareness on the cooling skin as the breath moves through the nostrils.
4. Don’t Give Up
During your meditation, your mind will no doubt drift off thinking about what you need to buy for dinner, impending work deadlines and possibly an argument you are having with a family member. The mind revels in thinking and the nature of the thoughts isn’t really an issue for the mind, as long as there is a thought. Focusing on the breath is a very mundane and boring experience for the mind, so you will need to apply some level of dsicpline here. Be gentle on yourself. You have asked your mind to process a lot of information all day long, so focusing on meditation may be a big challenge for your mind. Stick with it and after ten minutes you will find that you feel calmer.
5. Let Go
Not being attached to the outcome is important in meditation. Many people get frustrated that they are not doing it right or that they are not feeling ‘zen’ in their meditation. Few meditations are a very zen experience. It’s not so much about what happens during meditation, rather how we feel after meditation. Some meditations will be busy, with lots of thoughts, while others will be deep and restful. You may even feel agitated, sad, sleepy or angry. Whatever feelings come up, just observe and let go.
Meditation is a hard skill to master. Keep practising as if you can do two meditations a day, you will gradually notice your life become calmer and happier. Plus, you will have more energy.
Words by Tom Cronin, Founder of The Stillness Project
Want to take part Tom Cronin’s upcoming outdoor meditation event?
Tom Cronin, a recognised meditation teacher, producer and founder of The Stillness Project, is organising a large group meditation experience for hundreds of people, to be filmed for a scene in his upcoming feature film ‘The Portal’ on Sunday 25th of March. The event will be a beautiful vortex of peace and calm in the city of Sydney, where attendees can play an integral part in sharing a powerful message about the importance of finding inner stillness in the modern world. Drones and on-the-ground camera crews will capture the experience as part of a final epic scene in the film, which is set to be released in cinemas globally in early 2019.
What: A meditation event for hundreds of people on the grassy hillside of Barangaroo Park
When: Sunday 25th March from 7:45-9am (filming will begin at 8am)
Where: Northern Section of Barangaroo Park
To Bring: A yoga mat or something to sit on (in case the ground is wet)
Click here to register your place!
Image credit: @life_of_fee