With the hectic pace and demands of life today, many of us feel stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted. It often feels like our life is out of control and there is no end in sight. Our stress causes us to become depressed or anxious which affects our health, relationships
Meditation is a simple, life-changing tool that can help you to relax, gain more awareness about yourself and increase your overall potential. The goal of meditation is to focus and understand your mind- ultimately reaching a higher level of awareness and inner peace. This mindfulness technique is not about “emptying the mind” or “finding happiness”, it is simply an opportunity to observe your thoughts as they arise and pass without judgment. Meditation can show us how to transform our mind from negative to positive, from disturbed to peaceful, from unhappy to happy. What’s even better is that you can access your meditation practice anywhere and at any time of the day.
It sounds like a simple concept, right? The truth is that often times it is the simple concepts that can be the toughest to put into
How to Meditate
Find a comfortable seat on the floor or in a chair that allows your hips to open and lift your spine. If sitting doesn’t work for you, you can also stand or lie down. The key is to get comfortable so you can relax and focus on your practice.
Gently place your hands onto your thighs to ground your energy and rest your mind. Lift your chest and allow your heart to feel light and open. Extend the spine upward towards the sky and balance your skull on the top of your spine. Soften your belly. The front part of your body is soft and open. The back part of your body is strong and supportive.
Close Your Eyes
Closing your eyes helps you to block out the distractions around you.
Observe Your Breath
Stay in the present moment by observing your breath moving in and out of your nose. Don’t change your breath. Just breathe naturally. On each exhale, let your mind soften and flow out on your breath.
If you find your mind drifting off, that’s no problem. It may happen many times. Don’t get discouraged. Simply say “thinking” and return to your breath. When we get still, we begin to notice how active our mind really is. Becoming aware of this activity of the mind is the goal of the mindfulness meditation practice. A mindful meditation practice will help you recognize your recurring thought patterns.
Awareness and Letting Go
As a thought comes into your mind during meditation, observe it, touch it and feel it and then return to your breath again. This process brings awareness to the fact that we all have many thoughts, often recurring ones, however, none of them are permanent. Thoughts come and they go…they only have a meaning if you attach a story to them.
Ending Your Meditation
When you are ready to end the session, open your eyes and invite gentle movement into the body. During your meditation you are working with subtle energy fields in the body and which can often make you feel disconnected from the body. After a meditation, make sure to get grounded through one of the following techniques: eating a snack, drinking hot tea, stomping your feet or taking rest.
5 Steps to Starting a Meditation Practice
- Consistency. The key to developing a meditation practice is repetition and consistency. Choose a time of day that consistently works best in your schedule. Don’t punish yourself if you miss a session. Find a balance between rigid commitment and being lazy.
- Eliminate Distractions. Find a quiet place with limited distractions. If you struggle with meditating in silence, consider using soft background music that will help you relax but won’t be distracting to you such as the sounds of nature (rain or ocean waves), classical music or meditation music.
- Pick a Length of Time. Choose a length of time for your meditation practice and stick to it. Start small. Five minutes is a good place to begin. Stick with it. Even if you end up counting sheep, stick with the meditation until the timer goes off. By practicing consistently you will begin to develop a discipline for the practice.
- Set a Timer. It will tell you when your time is up without you having to think about it constantly. You can use the timer on your phone or digital watch. Choose a soothing alarm sound that will gently nudge you out of meditation.
- Don’t Judge Your Journey. Meditation, like life, is a journey. Set an intention to make the practice of meditation your own. Be gentle with yourself. Be patient with yourself and the process. There is a difference between practice and perfection. Meditation is only something that you can practice.
Anyone can benefit from meditation. The key to carrying on the benefits of meditation is to create a consistent practice that can move with you throughout the various seasons of life.