We asked a group of college students who are taking a 1 semester Mindfulness course what advice they would give to other students who want to start a meditation practice. Here are their responses:
- Meditation is simple, but simple does not mean easy. Know that sometimes you aren’t going to feel great; accept it and move forward. It takes time and practice, especially for someone who is distracted very easily. Stick with it. Start with an intent. Why do you want to meditate? What do you want to improve about yourself?
- When you are meditating, try to relax and be present in the moment and forget about everything else in your life just for a little while. Start by focusing on the breath and your posture. If you start thinking about other things, come back. The breath is your best tool; keep coming back to it no matter what. Counting how many seconds you inhale and how many seconds you exhale is useful in keeping focus.
- Don’t get frustrated if you can’t focus or get too distracted. This is natural and takes time to build focus. Rather, respond to distractions and frustrations with acceptance and non-judgment. Drop personal narratives, and instead, focus on bodily sensations. Acknowledge thoughts as they arise; don’t judge your thoughts or yourself. Use all senses of the body. Notice emotions without getting attached.
- Know it is a myth that meditation means you have to sit and think about nothing. First start slowly in small increments of time and focus just on the sound/ feeling of your breath. Overtime, incorporate different meditational techniques (mantras, mindful eating, loving kindness) and increase amount of time allotted for meditating.
- Keep a journal of meditation experiences so you know what does/ doesn’t work. There isn’t a right or wrong way to meditate. Look at meditation apps or other guided meditation outlets; see if you like them compared to self-guided meditation. Don’t be afraid to try different methods/ approaches, then figure out what kind of meditation works for you and stick to it. Build a meditative space where your body will be primed to relax and unwind.
Schedule time everyday for brief meditations and stick to it. Try to do it around the same time everyday so it becomes habit.
- Find a posture that is comfortable for you!
- Have a place you enjoy going.
- Begin each meditation with a breathing exercise.
- Find a group, or a least one other person, who will hold you accountable and provide support.
- Start slow and build your way up.
Don’t expect results on the first try; it’s a journey and learning experience, not a one-time thing. It is like strengthening a muscle; the practice is difficult but the results are how you feel afterwards (not during).
More tips and insights from fellow students: