Learn how to start a meditation practice by going local and getting help!
by Grace Edmunds
Meditation. It’s a buzz word these days among high-achievers as modern research has proven it’s many benefits in relation to stress management, improved performance, and overall wellbeing. There are so many different styles of meditation being offered these days and it can be overwhelming to try to find the right place to start. If you want to get started with meditation because of the science, know that there are very few practices that the research has focused on thus far, with most of the credible studies concentrated on the secular style called “mindfulness meditation”. I’ve got a few suggestions here on how you can get started with and sustain a meditation practice yourself.
Find a Local Center
The best way to get started with meditation is in person with an experienced teacher. We can read all we like, attend lectures, believe wholeheartedly in the science, but until we start to practice, we won’t experience the benefits of a steady practice. Meditation is also a skill, that takes time and practice to become familiar with.
Here are a few good centers in the US to help you start:
The Copper Beech institute is a mindfulness center in West Hartford, CT that hosts silent retreats. Their teachers also work with vulnerable populations, and offer mindfulness based leadership programs in businesses. If you’re in the northeast, they host 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction courses as well as a monthly Intro to Meditation. If not, listen to their podcast or join their weekly online meditation on Mondays!
MNDFL has locations all around New York City where they offer a variety of meditation classes. They’ve also got a mindfulness at work program that they offer to businesses in the city. Pop in to one of their classes or book private instruction with one of their teachers to start your practice.
Los Angeles based meditation studio, Unplug, offers daily classes and in-house corporate work at both Santa Monica and West Hollywood locations.
The Big quiet is a mass meditation movement that gathers thousands of people together for large scale moments of quiet. They bring this experience around the country to beautiful locations and include music, meditations, and connection.
Going to a center every day, for most of us, won’t work. However, if you go to a class once or twice a week, you can start to apply the techniques you’ve learned to your home meditations. First, determine a regular time and place where your practice will take place. Creating regularity will help you make a habit of meditation and it’s through regular practice that you will start to see the great benefits. It can also be helpful to piggyback your habit of meditation with something you already do every day, such as brushing your teeth or drinking coffee/tea. Adding in 5 -10 minutes of meditation can make an impact on your day helping you to remain calm and focused.
It can be very helpful to start with guided meditations to get help understanding the different techniques when dealing with different experiences in meditation.
The Simple Habit app helps you make meditation a habit by offering you a wide variety of expert teachers with 7-30 day courses that encourage you to stay with your practice. They also have a variety of topics from dealing with holiday stress to managing a difficult relationship, giving insight into how the practice can be applied to many different areas of life.
Use the code ‘MINDFULGRACE for one free week of the app to test it out.
Insight timer is a great app because you have an option of using simply a bell with no guidance or choosing from a wide array of guided meditations and meditation music to listen to. Bonus: it’s free to use!
10% Happier is a great resource for diving deeper into the practice and science of mindfulness meditation. Listen as ABC news anchor and meditation advocate, Dan Harris interviews the top teachers on their personal stories as well as tips for practicing.
There are many great mindfulness books out there that can help you understand the philosophy and technique. That being said, nothing beats practice itself!
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Meditation, like learning any new skill, is challenging in the beginning. It can feel awkward and you can be unsure if you’re ‘doing it right’. Part of the practice is also to notice when we are being extra critical of ourselves. We can then see if that is harming our ability to succeed, which it often times is. So, if you start the practice and it feels challenging, don’t worry, the more your practice, the more you’ll get the hang of it!
Sometimes, our loved ones may notice the benefits before we do. I once had a student in a 6-week intro to mindfulness course that I hosted and she was getting ready for a big move across the country. While she used to be quite stressed out by the smallest things, her friends commented about how calm she was in the midst of this big life change. She attributed mindfulness with the reason why she felt that way. So, why not give it a shot and see if it works for you!
What are your favorite Meditation resources and centers? Share them in the comments below!
Author Bio: Grace Edmunds is a Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence teacher based in New Haven, CT. She has a passion for bringing meditation and contemplative practice to the work place and all areas of life. Find more about her at www.mindful-grace.com.
Photo: Motoki Tonn