You may be skeptical about meditation. I say this from personal experience. It’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t have time to meditate, but when you do it consistently, you will start to notice feeling calmer and more grounded. You really will! To be perfectly honest, I felt some resistance when I first started hearing more about it. I wasn’t sure if I was “supposed to.” As I wondered myself in the beginning, I have heard Christian friends say that they are intimidated, or feel uncomfortable with meditation, because they feel they may be dishonoring God, or worshipping some false god. Well, now I know that really couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Still concerned? You may choose a mantra such as Yahweh when you mediate, or words from the Lords’ Prayer. The point is, meditation can benefit people from all walks of faith. Meditation is so accessible too. You can meditate anywhere, anytime, with music, without, etc. The options are endless, and there truly isn’t a right or wrong way to mediate. Find what you enjoy, and what works best for you, because that is what you are more likely to stick with.
Here’s a challenge. Try to meditate 5-10 minutes each day for five days. Set a timer if that makes you feel better. Then leave a comment letting me know how it went. I’d love to hear about your experience.
Peace be with you,
1. Sit tall
The most common and accessible position for meditation is sitting. Sit on the floor, in a chair or on a stool. If you are seated on the floor it is often most comfortable to sit cross-legged on a cushion. Comfort is key. Now imagine a thread extending from the top of your head, pulling your back, neck and head straight up towards the ceiling in a straight line. Sit tall. Lying down is fine too if sitting is not accessible, or if lying down to meditate serves your practice.
2. Relax your body
Close your eyes and scan your body, relaxing each body part one at a time. Begin with your toes, feet, ankles, shins and continue to move up your entire body. Don’t forget to relax your shoulders, neck, eyes, face, jaw and tongue which are all common areas for us to hold tension.
3. Be still and silent
Now that you are sitting tall and relaxed, take a moment to be still. Just sit. Be aware of your surroundings, your body, the sounds around you. Don’t react or attempt to change anything. Just be aware.
Turn your attention to your breath. Breathe silently, yet deeply. Engage your diaphragm and fill your lungs, but do not force your breath. Notice how your breath feels in your nose, throat, chest and belly as it flows in and out.
5. Establish a mantra
A mantra is a sound, word or phrase that can be repeated throughout your meditation. Mantras can have spiritual, vibrational and transformative benefits, or they can simply provide a point of focus during meditation. They can be spoken aloud or silently to yourself. A simple and easy mantra for beginners is to silently say with each breath, I am breathing in, I am breathing out.
6. Calm your mind
As you focus on your breath or mantra, your mind will begin to calm and become present. This does not mean that thoughts will cease to arise. As thoughts come to you, simply acknowledge them, set them aside, watch them float by, and return your attention to your breath or mantra. Don’t dwell on your thoughts. Some days your mind will be busy and filled with inner chatter, other days it will remain calm and focused. Neither is good, nor bad.
9. When to end your practice
There is no correct length of time to practice meditation, however when first beginning it is often easier to sit for shorter periods of time (5 to 10 minutes). As you become more comfortable with your practice, meditate longer. Set an alarm if you prefer to sit for a predetermined length of time. Another option is to decide on the number of breaths you will count before ending your practice. A mala is a helpful tool to use when counting breaths.
8. How to end your practice
When you are ready to end your practice, slowing bring your conscious attention back to your surroundings. Acknowledge your presence in the space around you. Gently wiggle your fingers and toes. Begin to move your hands, feet, arms and legs. Open your eyes. Move slowly and take your time getting up.
9. Practice often
Consistency is more important than quantity. Meditating for 5 minutes every day will reward you with far greater benefits than meditating for two hours, one day a week.
10. Practice everywhere
Most beginners find it easier to meditate in a quiet space at home, but as you become more comfortable, begin exploring new places to practice. Meditating outdoors in nature can be very peaceful, and taking the opportunity to meditate at work, or when traveling can be an excellent stress reliever.
Meditation is a simple, effective and convenient way to calm your busy mind, relax your body, become grounded and find inner peace amidst the chaos of day-to-day life.