“How do I meditate?” This is a question that I hear often from my students. The following are a few simple steps to help you integrate a consistent meditation practice into your daily routine.
Designate a certain time of day to devote 15-20 minutes to meditation. I like early morning before my husband and son are up. Maybe it’s before you go to bed, maybe it’s in the middle of the day. There is no right or wrong time – but it’s helpful to pick a time and honor your commitment to this time so that it’s becomes a routine.
Designate a specific area in your house for meditation. No matter how big or small your house or backyard is, there is definitely a perfect spot somewhere in or around your home. I like to sit on the floor at the end of my bed.
There are many different positons to meditate in. Most people are not comfortable in the lotus position or even sitting cross-legged on the floor. You can try sitting on the earth with a pillow under the sit bones. Sitting in a chair or laying down are perfectly acceptable as well. You want to be comfortable, but not so comfortable that you may fall asleep!
Avoid using a timer or being overly concerned with how long or short your meditation is. Ideally we would all meditate daily for at least 20 minutes. Life doesn’t always allow this and sometimes you may have so much on your mind that you just can’t get into it. Other days you will feel like you could sit there for hours. It’s okay if you meditate even just for 5 minutes some days. That 5 minutes will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your mood for the rest of the day.
There are many different techniques that people teach and use for meditation. One of the basic premises of meditation is to be present. We are stuck in our thoughts most of the time – focusing on the past and the future. Rarely are we truly present – and the present is where we find a sense of peace and contentment. When you sit down to meditate, turn your attention onto the breath. It is your link to the moment. Watch as it moves in and out through the nose. Feel the movement that it creates in the body. Listen to it’s sound as it hits the back of your throat.
It is only natural for thoughts to float into your mind while you are sitting. Try to let them leave your awareness just as easily as they come in. Each new thought can turn into a long narrative that leads to daydreaming and takes us out of the moment. Try not to get sucked in to any stories that your mind wants to tell. No matter how many times you get distracted, continue to bring your awareness back onto the breath.
Like any other form of exercise, meditation takes consistent practice. You will get better and better at calming and quieting the mind, and your mind will get used to being more present. Meditation teaches us not to be habitually trapped in our thoughts and that a peaceful, calm state is always accessible – all you need to do is pause, be still, and breathe.