The most common question I get asked by far is how to meditate! By now most of us know the benefits of meditation from better sleep, less stress to its anti-aging capabilities but the practice itself is elusive to many.
I’m always talking about the importance of a daily meditation routine however I realize it’s doesn’t come easy for everyone. As simple as it sounds to sit for ten minutes in silence it can be difficult to discern what exactly you’re meant to be doing.
How do I sit? How do I breathe? Do I keep my eyes closed or open? How do I stop my thoughts? How long should I be doing this? How do I know I’m doing it right?
There are many different ways to meditate and perspectives on the right way to do it so know here I am only offering my methods and personal perspective, there are many more.
You don’t have to meditate for crazy long periods of time to start seeing the benefits, it’s understandable that not everyone has hours per day to sit in meditation and that’s ok. A few minutes a day is far better than not meditating at all.
A good benchmark to start with is ten minutes and then you can gradually work yourself up to twenty minutes and so on. You can break your meditation up throughout the day if you have a busy schedule: ten minutes upon waking and ten minutes in the evening before you go to sleep.
What people get wrong about meditation is it’s not about silencing or repressing thoughts but allowing them to flow before you, putting a little space between you and them and observing them without judgement.
Think of meditation like cloud watching; we do not pretend the clouds don’t exist but peacefully observe them as they pass. Watch as the clouds (your thoughts) pass by but let them drift away.
Find a place to sit for ten minutes where you won’t be disturbed and take a few minutes to get comfortable. When you’re just getting started don’t worry about attempting a full lotus position just sit seated with your back straight and legs crossed.
Scan your body for any tension and tense then release each body part until you are comfortable. Now place gentle focus on your breath, breathing deeply and consistently.
Focus on each breath and notice what it is telling you. Note how deep your breaths are and how your body is responding to each one, this will allow you to feel any tension in your body and gently release it.
Anytime you feel yourself becoming bored, annoyed or unfocused simply redirect your awareness to the breath. This process allows you to acknowledge where you are being distracted while not letting it disturb you.
Distracting thoughts will continually pop up, at first you may only be able to hold your focus on the breath for a few seconds at a time. This can feel frustrating but you continually refocus yourself.
With patience focus becomes easier to maintain, you’ll go longer and longer without distracting thought loops. Any progress even a few seconds improvement is something to be grateful for.
Any negative thought loops you catch yourself in during this time can be worked on later through journaling and inner work, for now acknowledge them but refocus on the breath.
Go On a Walking Meditation
Meditation doesn’t have to take place while seated either. You could do gardening, take the dogs for a walk or even do the dishes and make it a meditative experience!
We tend to assume meditation can only be done when in certain positions or in certain spaces however incorporating mindful meditation into your daily life creates some much needed space throughout the day to find calm whenever you need it.
A walking meditation is great for people who find meditating while seated difficult plus you get to take in all the calming sounds and smells of nature while you’re at it.
Go on a walking meditation and pay attention to how each step feels, notice your breath as you walk, start to build a stead rhythm. Then begin taking in the environment around you.
It doesn’t have to complex and you don’t have to get into a zen mind space every time you meditate for it to be beneficial. Focus less on what meditation should look like or if you’re doing it perfectly and more on how you are feeling in each moment and being at peace with it because that’s where the magic is.