How to meditate when you don't know how
So you're stuck - am I right? You have the best intentions but have no idea where to begin! Meditation is like training your mind - just like going for a run is like training your body. It takes time, commitment, and patience to develop a meditation practice. But here's the good news - meditation builds strength (without protein shakes)!
We have all seen the pictures of the most peaceful looking folks sitting somewhere on a beach meditating without a care in the world. This looks completely unattainable to the average Joe. In fact, it almost puts you off to the idea of meditation in general, because it looks like it is for the insta-stars of the world. Wrong. Meditation is for you. Mindfulness is attainable for everyone. Sitting with yourself quietly can be a scary thought - which is all the more reason to dive on in. Here's how to get you there:
Start small: Set a date with yourself. You should be the most important person in the world to yourself - you wake up to yourself each morning and you go to sleep with yourself each night. Reserve 15 minutes for yourself every day to meditate (even if you only use 5 to meditate and eat chocolate with the remaining 10...no one is judging)!
Next: Find a comfortable position and plant your bottom. Don't worry about your legs, your arms, or your toenails that need to be cut...drop it low and get comfortable.
Find your phone - yes, I said it! Find your phone and set a timer for a few minutes. Make certain that the alarm is not jarring to you. It is more habit-forming to meditate for 5 minutes per day rather than 30 minutes once a week. Set it and forget it.
Close your eyes, first turning your attention to your physical body. Roll your shoulders down and back a few times, and find a nice tall seated position, crossing the legs however you'd like and placing the arms and hands wherever they fall naturally. Proactively wiggle your fingers and your toes in order to resist the urge to fidget during your meditation.
Turn your attention inward: work to focus only on the breath. When you find your mind wandering (because it will) - reharness your focus back to the breath. Try counting if breath work seems too difficult.
If your mind is simply too busy, I'd recommend Insight Timer, which is a free app that offers guided meditations. Guided meditations are a wonderful way to coach you into developing your own meditation practice. First you'll have a coach, then you'll pull the hat trick!
There you have it - a simple approach to simplifying your thoughts and strengthening your mind. Mindfulness matters and developing this practice will allow you to experience life as it unfolds each moment, good and bad, without judgment or preconceived notions.