Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

There are 22.3 million posts under the #meditation on Instagram. Search for #mindfulness and #affirmations and both resulted in 12 million posts. For the past few years, people have been thinking about limiting their social media use and incorporating more mindfulness to their day.

I was a former meditation skeptic. Not that I don’t believe in it, I just think it wasn’t for me. I tried to meditate so many times: with apps, by myself, but it all didn’t work. I judged people who practice affirmations, I mean what good saying “You are great” in front of the mirror every morning?

Then something changed. I fell into depression so I decided to go therapy. The therapist suggested to lie down on the hospital bed and that we were going to do affirmations. I laughed, “Seriously, doctor? My brain is going haywire, I am crying everyday, and the first thing you tell me is to lie down on this bed and say words after you, and then I will be fine?” She assured me to lie down and do this practice. I mean, how will affirmations cure my depression? 

She told me to close my eyes, breathe in, breathe out, and repeat the words “I am healthy, I am safe, I am happy.” 5 minutes went by, and she told me to do it on my own.

To be honest with you, I was ready to never come back to see her ever again. Then she said, “So, you’re going to keep doing this every single day. The reason behind affirmation practice is that I want you to talk to your body and mind every single day. Your body and mind have only been fed negativity. If you do affirmations every day, your body and mind will eventually remember your voice, and when you have a breakdown, you are able to say ‘Hey, you’re going to be okay.’ And it will listen to you, because you have been building a relationship, a friendship with it.”

Thus began the journey of incorporating mindfulness into my life.  

I started by going the App route and remembered ‘Oak’ was a great recommendation by my sister. There’s a guided meditation in ‘Oak’ called “Loving Kindness” which she uses whenever she feels emotionally overwhelmed. The ‘Loving Kindness’ meditation features affirmation that tells you to repeat “May I be happy, May I be healthy, May I be at peace”. I did it for a week straight, and she was right! On days that I feel really sad, repeating the affirmations really helped. It eased the chaos in my head, and I wanted to feel at peace, as Oak tells me to do.

Next, I was confident to try ‘Mindful’ which is a guided meditation with no affirmations. All I thought about was going through my Instagram and Twitter, and I felt so many sensations in my body; my nose was itchy, my sitting position was off, and my back pain felt like it was coming back. I was so distracted, 10 minutes flew by and I felt unaccomplished.

Determined to understand meditation, I remembered that a friend of mine who practices mindfulness read the book ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle. The book encourages people that there is no time but the present. A lot of people are not ‘present’ because their body might be in one place, but their thoughts are always planning tomorrows and reflecting on yesterday.

Armed with the knowledge I learned, I gave meditation another go. One minute in, I was immediately distracted by the itchy nose and weird sitting position again, but I remembered to not give in to this itch or trying to move my legs. I just let the thought pass me by. I was thrown a hundred different thought again: I have to go grocery shopping tomorrow, I have to pay the phone bill, forgot to text back the group chat, etc. But I didn’t give in. I didn’t put my to-do lists in a mental note, I just let it pass me. Then I reached to a point of emptiness. My body felt like it was sinking to the chair. I felt lighter. My mind was empty but I was present in the moment. I was a person who was sitting in a chair in my room – that’s it. Nothing else.

“You can begin to feel your toes, your legs…” the guided meditation was coming to a close.

I did it! I meditated for 10 minutes, and felt that peaceful feeling! I DID IT!!

I spent the next month meditating every single day. Some days, my to-do lists get the best of me and all I get is 1 minute of peace, but I don’t beat myself up over it. I restart back tomorrow.

And that’s how I, a total skeptic, became a mindfulness junkie. It’s the one of the things I tell people whenever they ask me “What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?”. It works. You just need to give it a chance.

If you try it, let us know!