We all know the benefits of meditation, but when it actually comes to sitting down and giving it a go, people generally say 1 of 3 things to me:
1. I don’t know how to meditate
2. I can’t sit still for 2 minutes, let alone 20
3. I can’t get my thoughts to stop
Well, Happies, here’s the good news. There’s nothing to really learn as such, or be good at, and when it comes to stopping your thoughts, unless you’re as enlightened as the Dalai Lama, you’re not expected to. You just need to let them keep flowing and not get stuck on any one thought, rather than look into blankness altogether.
So, I’m no meditation expert but I have done my fair share of courses and do try to practice as often as I can. Here’s what’s helped me along the way…
1. MAKE THE TIME
Often people say they can’t sit still because their mind is on other things, they’re worried about work or their to do list. First things first, schedule in your meditation time so you can relax about the other stuff and know you have allocated this particular time to yourself. Once you make that a priority and literally make space in your life for meditation, you can train your brain to be present with you, rather than wandering off all the time.
2. START OFF SLOW
The brilliance of meditation is that you don’t have to sit there for 40 minutes in your first session to see results. In fact, if you try to do that you’re going to get restless and over it really quickly. Think of meditation as muscle training: you wouldn’t expect to look like Arnie in one weights session at the gym, so why expect the same with your meditation? Instead, start off with a 3 minute meditation, then 5 minute, then 10 minute and so on, building up the strength in your concentration over a realistic time frame.
3. FIND A QUIET COMFORTABLE POSITION
Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the biggest difference, and with meditation, it’s often something as mundane as your posture that makes or breaks your practice. So, choose either a lying or comfortable sitting position. I like to lie when I’m practicing yoga nidra or meditating at night, and sit any other time. I love my meditation pillow but a chair works just as well. If you’re lying down, position your feet so they’re apart and your palms face up. Make sure everything is aligned. If you’re sitting, sit up straight, pull your chin slightly in and make sure your shoulders are in line with your hips and your legs are comfortable.
4. CLOSE YOUR EYES
Once you’re comfortable, it’s time to get started. I like listening to guided meditations (see below) as they help you focus on the practice. I highly recommend these for beginners or monkey minds. Alternatively you can listen to music or enjoy the silence of your surrounds. Just make sure your eyes are closed and you are meditating in a calm, quiet environment to start with. Once you get stronger, you can meditate anywhere (on the bus, in the car, around your family) but for now, just light a candle or find a quiet place in nature, sit serenely and close your eyes.
5. FOCUS ON YOUR BREATH
While some meditations use a mantra, I find that just focusing on your breath is the easiest way to concentrate. Think about how your breath enters and exits your nose, pay attention to your breathing, is it shallow? Deep? Stressed? Tired? Start tuning into your body but always remain focused on your breath. If thoughts come up, just let them go. If another one pops up, let it go too. The key is to just keep letting your thoughts pass like a running river and focus on your breath.
So that’s it. That’s essentially all there is to meditation. It’s not hard, in fact, it’s the easiest thing ever. Just sit and breathe. That’s it! If you’re interested in those guided meditations, here are the ones on high rotation in my house…
Tell me Happies…
Do you meditate?
Does this help?