One of the biggest challenges faced by people wanting to meditate is a very simple one: where do I start?
When during my busy day should I do it? How can I make the time? And now that I’m sitting in a quiet room, what meditation practice should I use?
My book, Why Mindfulness is Better than Chocolate, has a chapter devoted to how to get into the habit of meditating because this is such an important challenge.
What I want to highlight in this blog is the value of guided meditation downloads. Listening to a guided meditation on a MP3 player/iPod can be a useful way of easing into the practice for several reasons.
- Although, in time, meditation will come to feel like the most natural thing in the world to be doing, initially it will feel unfamiliar. If you’re anything like I was when I started, you may even feel like a bit of a fraud even trying! But listening to instructions is something we’re all familiar with. A guided meditation can therefore help us turn what may seem like a daunting challenge into an activity that is a lot more approachable.
- Some people worry about getting things wrong. What if I forget a vital part of the instructions? What if I get so caught up in my thoughts that I spend the whole session daydreaming? Guided meditations help ensure that you don’t miss out on any of the most important instructions. The free downloads I provide also help keep you on track during the course of your session by gently bringing you back to the object of meditation.
- How do you know when your time is up? You can set up an alert on your phone. You can lay your watch in front of you. A guided meditation of a specified duration will also bring your session to a gentle close. In the downloads I provide, I tell listeners about a minute before the end of their session so that, whatever the quality of the session up till that point, they can try to finish it with clarity and focus. Ending a session on a positive note helps encourage us to come back to meditation again.
I think of guided downloads as being like stabiliser wheels on a kid’s bicycle. They make a huge difference to start off with. They encourage a sense of familiarity and confidence. Pretty soon they will have served their purpose and you will outgrow them. But they can provide a most useful support at that vital early stage.
I have recorded a number of downloads you can get free by clicking on the ‘Free Downloads’ button on the Home page of this website – http://davidmichie.com/
Which meditation should you choose? I suggest you try each of them in turn and choose to focus on the one or two that you prefer. Meditation really is different strokes for different folks. What matters initially is to find a practice that works for you – and stick with it. You can always review other meditation types again at a later point once you have developed your concentration muscles.
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