How to Meditate- a guide to get started
This is essential to experience life to its fullest. But it is not easy. And it does not mean we are free from discomfort, insecurity, or pain- but it can provide us with new ways to deal with it.
I can say that since beginning my practice of meditation, I am continually humbled.
It is the process of connecting to oneself, the soul/being, that is uncovered by all the layers it is attached to. It is the process of expanding- to be open/vulnerable- and not feel defined by old patterns and beliefs influenced by the people and world around us.
It is a chance to stop talking to ourselves and live in story/perceptions- but come back to the freshness of the present moment- which is the only way to detach and allows us to become more loving and compassionate people toward ourselves and others.
“This very moment is a perfect teacher and it is always with us”- Pema Chodron
When beginning this practice, it is very important to have an area that is designated to be your “meditation space”.
It does not have to be fancy, can be a small corner of a bedroom, but the importance is having a consistent place where the energy can flow. You do not need to have anything more than just a place to sit- on the floor or a chair.
Just remember when finding a space, to make sure that you can sit with your back straight, not hunching or slouching to block the flow of energy and breath through the body.
Start setting aside 5 minutes a day (I find the mornings are a good time, but find the best time for you). You can keep with 5 minutes or gradually increase by 5 minutes every week if that works for you. It is important to have a routine (that is realistic) so if you can only meditate 2 times a week- make sure it is the same 2 days every week and is consistent.
It can be extremely difficult for a beginner to sit for hours and think of nothing or have an “empty mind.”
So in general, the easiest way to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath- specifically the out breath (the exhale). It is always available to us and is an easy way to ground back into our present experience and notice what is happening in our body (without judgement).
Here’s a Step by Step guide for the meditation process:
- When you are ready to begin your practice, find yourself seated in your meditation space and close your eyes.
- Make no effort to control the breath, simply breathe naturally.
- Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhale and exhale. Notice the sensations in your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, throat, shoulders, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.
- A specific technique to focus on your breathing is square breathing. You inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and repeat. This is a wonderful way to sink into your meditation and focus on your breath.
- You may also repeat a mantra that helps you re-focus when you start to feel distracted by thoughts or feelings
- When you notice thoughts come up, gently label that you are “thinking”. It’s ok, it’s normal, and it will happen. The practice is continually recognizing thoughts as just that, they go through our minds all the time, but not getting swept away by them.
- I have imagined thoughts as cars passing through the mind, moving from the front to back, and I return my attention back to being the observer- almost as if I’m watching the cars pass on a street from a window in a house, but do not form any attachment with one car (or thought). It is a continual practice!
I believe this is a lot to leave you with in one blog, so I will end here.
Practice, practice, practice. And with that- patience, patience, patience.
I would love to hear how your practice is going.
We are all in this dance called life together, so may we cultivate love, compassion and deeper understanding and well-being for ourselves and others.
That is my wish for you!