4 Tips for Beginner Meditators

Meditation and concentration are the way to a life of serenity.” – Baba Ram Dass

Have you been interested in starting a meditation practice but feel overwhelmed by the thought? I get it, with all the tips and information out there, it can be difficult to just begin.

In the video below, I’m sharing 4 tips to help you get started.

 

 


[Video] You CAN Meditate (I Promise!)

In this video, I’m sharing the top two reasons I hear why people don’t think they can meditate — and why those reasons aren’t true! Even you — yes YOU — can meditate…promise. And you totally need to. Watch the video to see why and how to begin.

 

4 Types of Meditation to Consider Trying

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

You’re totally new to meditation — or you’ve tried it some — and you decide to open up your browser and do some research. If you’re like a lot of people, you probably get overwhelmed by all the different types of meditations you see. But, because I’m here to help you get started, here are my favorite types of meditation you can start with (by the way, with all of these, you can sit in silence or listen to soft, relaxing music):

1. Concentration

With concentration meditation, you focus on a single point, like a single word or mantra, a non-moving object (like a candle or figurine), or your inhalations and exhalations, which is what I do primarily. For example, I will inhale and count to four, then exhale and count to four. Of course, the idea is to continue concentrating the entire time, but you still might find that your mind wanders. When this happens (and it will, no matter how “seasoned” you are as a meditator), gently bring your awareness back to the chosen object of attention, and let the thoughts go.

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation encourages you to observe your wandering thoughts as they drift through your mind. The intent is to not get involved with the thoughts nor judge them but to simply be aware of them, and let them float on by without giving them your energy or attention.

3. Affirmation

So, I don’t know if this is the “real” name, but affirmation meditation is using affirmations while you’re, well, meditating. You can choose affirmations for whatever you might want to work on in your life like creating calm, abundance, joy, etc.

If you’re going to create your own, here are a few tips:

  • Begin with the words “I am,” and/or use present tense. Speak it as if it’s happening now.
  • If you’re having trouble believing what you’re saying (which is key), say something like, “I believe it’s possible to…” or “I give myself permission to…”
  • Make it positive. For example, instead of saying, “I don’t let negative people disturb my peace,” say, “I am only allowing positive people around me, and that brings me peace.”

4. Laughter

Okay, so I can’t say this is a favorite as I’ve never done it, but I thought it was…interesting.  As I was looking for a photo to go with this post, I saw the above picture that I’d saved a couple of weeks ago, and it made me remember that I’d heard of laughter yoga. Then I thought, ‘Well, there must be laughter meditation, too.’ So, I Googled it, and here we are.

According to do-meditation.com, laughter meditation has three parts: 1) Stretching; 2) Laughter, and 3) Stillness; and the best time to practice this is in the morning on an empty stomach; but if not, do it before lunch or dinner. To begin, stretch your entire body (one to two minutes) by standing on your toes, and bring your arms overhead with your fingers interlaced. You should also loosen and stretch the muscles of your jaws and face.

Next, start smiling softly; broaden your smile, and begin laughing without force. Deepen your laughter so you feel it from your belly. Try and laugh ‘with’ yourself but not ‘at’ or ‘about’ someone or something; be mindful of the moment of laughter — whatever you’re experiencing in that moment, laugh with it.

Finally, stop laughing and close your eyes. Come to stillness, and if you were standing, find somewhere to sit. Become aware of the silence, and when thoughts come to you, let them go, and focus on the sensations in your body.

Have you tried any of these meditation techniques? Which are your favorite? 

“Meditation and concentration are a way to a life of serenity.” – Baba Ram Dass

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

#CalmTip: Do a Walking Meditation

How to do walking meditation

According to MeditationOasis.com, walking meditation can be as profound as sitting meditation and has the advantage of bringing the meditative experience into your activity.

Here’s how to do it:

Before starting, spend some time standing still, becoming aware of your body. Take a few deep breaths, paying attention to the sensation of your breath. Allow your breath to return to normal and notice it. Next, bring your awareness back to your body, and notice how your body feels as you stand and what sensations you’re feeling.

Begin walking at a relaxed, somewhat slow but normal pace. As you walk, pay attention to what you’re feeling in your body. When you feel your attention being drawn to the sights around you, refocus on what’s going on internally and the physical experience of walking. Try to notice how every little thing in your body feels.

Pay attention to how the soles of your feet feel. Become aware of the contact your feet make with your socks and/or shoes, the textures of the fabrics touching, the way your feet feel as they support the weight of your body and the sensations in them as you continue walking. Feel your entire foot, noticing how it feels as your foot lifts and moves forward. Next, bring your awareness up through each part of your body and notice the different sensations as you walk. Slowly scan your body from your feet to your head, letting go of any tension you feel and allowing your entire body to relax. If your mind is wandering, you can continue scanning your body and noticing any sensations you feel to bring your awareness back to your walking meditation.

“Walking outside in the fresh air is better than trudging ’round inside your brain.” – Sue Fitzmaurice

P.S. — I’ve created a free audio of the instructions for you to use while you’re doing your meditation. Download here –> Walking Meditation Audio

3 Breathing Techniques for Stress Relief

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

One of my favorite (and probably easiest) ways to create calm is breathing. I know, you might be thinking, Uhhh, I breathe all the time, and I don’t feel any calmer. What are you talking about?

Well, to use your breath as a method to create calm, you have to breathe effectively. But before I tell you some ways you can do so, here are a few tips:

  • If possible, get somewhere that’s quiet and distraction-free.
  • These can be done with your eyes opened or closed (but obviously, if your eyes are going to be closed, don’t drive or operate heavy machinery or anything like that). Sit up with your spine straight.
  • You can also listen to some music to help you focus better. Search for meditation music or relaxation music on YouTube, Google Play, etc.
  • You can practice the techniques until you feel more relaxed.

Now, on to the three breathing techniques to try when you need to de-stress, relax, and find some calm.

 

1. Deep Abdominal Breathing (or, how you’re really supposed to breathe all the time.)

  1. Exhale all your breath, gently bringing your belly button back towards your spine.
  2. Inhale, puffing out your belly. Gently bring your breath up through your rib cage, then your chest.
  3. Slowly start to exhale, reversing the process. Exhale from the chest, allowing your rib cage then your belly to gently go down.

2. Equal Breathing

Use the same breathing technique as above. Count to four as you inhale, then count to four as you exhale.

3. Alternate Nostril Breathing

  1. Make a gentle fist with your right hand. Extend your thumb and last two fingers, leaving space for your nose.
  2. With your thumb, close off your right nostril, and exhale through your left.
  3. Using deep abdominal breathing, inhale through your left nostril then close it off with the last two fingers, and exhale through the right nostril.
  4. Continue by inhaling through your right nostril, closing it off and exhaling through the left.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until you feel more relaxed.

 

“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

 


Discover breathing techniques, various ways to meditate, and more in BeCalm Bootcamp: Meditation for Beginners! Click below to get all the details; we start August 15th.

#CalmTip: Mindfulness Meditation

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, renowned mindfulness meditation instructor, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” It can be practiced anywhere, any time, and you can even do it while you’re walking, eating, or cleaning.

To practice mindfulness meditation while sitting is simple:

  1. Focus on your breath, the inhalations and exhalations.
  2. When thoughts come to you, don’t try to force them out; instead, observe them in a friendly, nonjudgmental manner.
  3. Then, return your focus back to your breath.

Benefits of mindfulness/mindfulness meditation include inducing the relaxation response, reducing anxiety, and encouraging positive thought patterns and attitudes.

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Finding Your Calm at Work (A Guest Post for The Cubicle Chick)

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

Whether you work 9-to-5 in an office or from home as a solopreneur, stress in your career is inevitable. In fact, a 2014 study from Harris Interactive for Everest College reports that around 83 percent of American workers feel stressed out by their jobs.

Fortunately, there are ways to combat this stress and anxiety (whew!). A few weeks ago, I wrote a post for The Cubicle Chick sharing four ways you can find your calm in the middle of your work day, while you’re at work. Read the entire post below (and let me know what you think!):

4 Simple Ways to Find Your Calm at Work

Photo Credit (stockyimages/123rf.com)

Visualizing with Meditation

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Visualizing is a great tool to create more calm in your life, especially when coupled with meditation and deep breathing. Below is a guided meditation audio that includes visualization (if you prefer to read how to do it and do it on your own, go here). It’s just a few minutes long, and you can do it anywhere.

I hope you enjoy it!

“To bring anything into your life, imagine that it’s already there.” – Richard Bach

 

 

How to Meditate:The Basics

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

Want to meditate but having trouble getting started? This post is for you! I’m going to share the basics of how to meditate so you can begin your practice. Before I get into that, I want to share a definition of meditation:

“a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state.”

When meditating, your mind is relaxed and inwardly focused, and when your mind becomes silent and is no longer a distraction, your meditation practice deepens. (It’s super important to remember that meditation is a practice, meaning the more you do it, the easier it becomes, and if you want to reach that deeper level and really reap the benefits, you have to do it on a consistent basis).

Now, on to how to meditate:

  • Find a quiet, distraction-free space (even if people are in the room, e.g., your kids, as long as they aren’t disturbing you, you can meditate).
  • Sit on the floor, a yoga mat, in a chair, or even in your bed. Wherever you sit, make sure your spine is straight. Two common ways to sit are cross legged or kneeling.
  • Basic ways to place your hands include: on your thighs or knees (palms facing up or down); prayer position with your hands at your chest; bring your thumbs and index fingers to touch and place the back of your palms on your thighs or knees.
  • When you find a comfortable seat and have placed your hands, close your eyes and mouth, and relax your body. Begin inhaling deeply and exhaling fully, and continue throughout your practice.
  • If you’re a beginner, meditate for anywhere from two to 20 minutes. (You can use an app like Calm or Meditation Helper to keep track of the time).
  • Some ideas for maintaining your focus: Concentrate on your inhalations and exhalations, and when thoughts come to you, let them go. Or, “watch”  your thoughts, then watch them float by.

That’s it! As I mentioned earlier, once you begin practicing meditation on a consistent basis, you’ll reap the benefits and see how it can change your life.

“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there — buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” – Deepak Chopra

 


Take your meditation to the next level with guided Mediations for Calm, Happiness, and Fulfillment! Click below to learn more and purchase.

 

 

Photo Credit (top)/Zdenka Darula

Book

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

 

I’m super excited to announce the launch of my book, The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm!

It’s a quick guide that shares practical tips and advice for creating more calm and peace in your life. You’ll learn:

  • Why and how to meditate, plus breathing techniques
  • Ways you can use affirmations to find your calm
  • Basic yoga poses
  • How you can make self-care a priority
  • And more!

Additionally, you’ll receive audios and videos to accompany the book.

The Black Girl’s Guide to Calm launches on Tuesday, September 15th, but you can download two preview chapters here.