If meditation is new to you it can seem a little frustrating at first. You may feel like, you don’t have time or you can’t seem to stop the thoughts and lists from flooding your mind. This is a very normal response and like anything you have to practice it daily to get better at it. Our brain is not wired to be empty. We are thinking machines. The mind won’t become blank during mediation but, over time you will find that you are able to slow the breath and focus the mind on one thing. That thing might be as simple as you’re breath and later a mantra or visualization. This skill is very valuable in today’s society. So let’s do it!
- Set your phone to airport mode and turn off the wifi
- Set your timer for 10 minutes with a calming alert to end the session with the volume turned down low.
- Switch off all other electronic distractions (the computer alerts have sometimes disturbed me so mute the computer)
- Make sure your warm (your temperature drops a little as you relax) and you’ve gone to the toilet and had a couple of sips of water
- Make yourself comfortable. If need be sit in a chair or against a tree or a wall. Sit on as many cushions as you need to so that you are sitting comfortably in a crossed legged position or allow the legs to straighten in front of you (don’t lay down to meditate just yet, as you will most likely fall asleep)
- Start by taking a long slow deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth as slow and as long as possible. Start with a slow count of 3 as you breath in and out. Extend this as you become more experienced. Do this 5 times. Counting helps you to focus your mind on a single thought. Take note of the quality of your breathing, is it short on the inhale? Rapid on the exhale? Does your chest feel tight? Are your shoulders lifting? Take mental notes but don’t go off on a “why” story, it’s’ not important, you are just observing. You’re checking in with yourself.
- Continue to breath this way five more times but now bring your attention to your nostrils and the way the air feels as it enters your nose and delivers oxygen to your body. Now feel the air leaving your mouth and how the body deflates on exhalation. Continue to pursue the slowing down of the breath. You’re feeling your way now.
- Gently close your mouth, tip of the tongue at the back of the top two front teeth, jaw relaxed. Drop your shoulders. Relax your abdominals. Let your body fall into its own natural breathing pattern now. Notice how your body draws air in and expels it without you telling it to. The breath might be hardly noticeable by now and this is the place of stillness. You’re now playing the role of the witness.
- Sit with this feeling and focus your attention to the point between your eyebrows (your eyebrow centre point) as you sit here thoughts and feeling may start to arise, let them pass, just observe, don’t let the mind monkeys start go off on a tangent. If they do, come back to your breath and the way the air feels as it enters and leaves your nostrils now. Or count the breath again to re- focus the mind.
Start with very simple meditation for 10 minutes per day for one week. You will find that you will be left wanting more time by the end of the week, and by all means increase that timer if you do. Write down your observations at the end of each meditation and note the changes through the week. Perhaps you’re clarity has improved, perhaps you feel more energized throughout the day or you are able to deal with a busy day in a calmer more productive way. Stress is not productive.
Where and when can I meditate?
- Set your alarm a bit earlier than normal, starting your day this way really sets you up in a positive way
- On the train or bus. Headphones in and eyes closed. Seriously who cares what other people might think this maybe the only time in the day you get to focus yourself before for your evening routine with family or flatmates or maybe even more work!
- Before bed time. Once your evening duties and responsibilities are complete take yourself off to that designated space where you can put some candles on sit and enjoy time out just for you
- In the bath
- In the shower
- In your car before you go into work or come into the house. Of course the engine is off and the hand brake is on!
- If you’re asleep you’re not meditating. This is another reason I suggest sitting up till you become more experienced.
- Every time those monkeys start swinging from vine to vine come back the breath and counting this is creating a more disciplined mind. Good brain training.
- Don’t give up!
- Forget the notion that only hippies, yogis or gurus can meditate, its for EVERYBODY. (I have even taught my three year old to take some breaths when she is having a tantrum because I asked her to put on her shoes on to go to daycare)
- Be prepared, pick a specific time of the day to meditate and stick to it. Set your alarm 5 minutes before hand to remind you, “It’s time for a pause”.
- Meditation is not about having a blank mind its about focus and discipline of the mind, relaxation and time out for you. You won’t transcend or levitate but you will begin resetting your mind and your stress responses.
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