The ancient art of meditation is an undeniably effective de-stresser, and celebrities from Alia Bhatt and Jacqueline Fernandez to Malaika Arora and Shilpa Shetty Kundra swear by its mental and physical benefits. Getting started on this journey, however, requires patience and perseverance — and that's where most of us give up. To teach you how to meditate and kick-start your mindfulness journey, spiritual healer and psychic Ashtar Tashi breaks down the myths associated with the practice, and offers us tips to keep in our (undistracted) mind.
1. You can sit however you like
"While meditating, it's vital that you sit in a comfortable pose. It's not necessary to sit on the floor or in a padmasana pose — you can even lie down on a soft mattress," says Ashtar. What is necessary, though, is that if you're sitting on a chair, keep your feet firmly planted on the ground and refrain from crossing your ankles. "Crossing your ankles restricts the energy flow, which is why it's important for your feet to touch the floor. This is excellent for grounding," she explains.
2. You're bound to twitch
When you first start meditating, since you're not in the habit of sitting in one position without any movement for a long time, your body is going to retaliate. "You'll get pins and needles in your hands and legs, and while it's fine to make gentle movements, try to avoid jerky movements that distract you," says Ashtar.
3. Start by listening to transcendental music or a chant
Plug out from the world by simply plugging into your earphones. "Listening to soft music like the chiming of Tibetan bells, the sound of the ocean, the sound of birds and the like can help stop your mind from wandering. You'll be mindful and in the moment," says Ashtar. An alternate to music is chanting a mantra like 'Om' repetitively, that is believed to heighten awareness, sensitivity and improve focus.
4. Next, try guided meditation
Another effective way of meditating is to have a voice guide you through the process. "A guided meditation is helpful because the voice asks you to visualise anything from vibrant colours, shining crystals or blinding light, which is difficult when you're doing it alone," she says. YouTube is a storehouse of guided meditations — from specific ones like how to let go of anger and forgive others to broader ones like how to balance your chakras and calm your mind — all you have to do is find one that works for you.
5. Don't expect results in the first try
"When you first meditate, you may not go into a deep trance state. In fact, you may not go into it for quite some time. Meditation has to become a daily practice — just like bathing or brushing your teeth — for you to see results," says Ashtar. She adds that it also depends on your mood, your state of mind and your level of consciousness for you to expect results.
6. Set an intention
"What are you seeking out of your meditation? Are you looking for peace of mind, answers or an experience? Set an intention before you meditate to get more out of it."
7. Practice it at the same time, everyday
Ashtar insists that you must take out time for meditation, whether it's in the morning, afternoon or the night. "Choose a time that works for you, and then stick to it. If you practice meditation at the same time, it will become a habit that instinctively comes to you," says Ashtar.
8. Remember to ground and protect yourself
"If you're meditating without the help of a healer, you could go too deep into your trance and it could become difficult to come back," says Ashtar. This could open you up to negative psychic attacks, and to prevent that, Ashtar advises grounding and protecting yourself using crystals. "Hold a black onyx in your right hand and a moonstone or a crystal quartz in your left hand to ground yourself. You can also place a black tourmaline or a blue lapis lazuli between your feet to ground your energies. Keeping an amethyst or a fluorite between your brows can awaken your third eye and take you to a deeper trance."