This is a mini post on some very basic and easy to use principles that will help you meditate. I’ve been successfully meditating for about 10 to 15 minutes a day for several months now. I used and still use guided meditation through an app called Headspace that quickly taught me within a few minutes how wrongly I was doing meditation. I believe that half the reason people don’t meditate is simply because they don’t know how to do it properly and this causes frustrations and makes the entire effort totally pointless, sadly.
Just to debunk the biggest myth (in my opinion) of them all about mediation, it is NOT trying to “think about nothing.” That’s pretty much impossible, but you’ll see what I mean. Also, if you don’t meditate, be sure to check out the science behind all the benefits to see what you’re really missing.
Find a quiet environment. I sit in my bedroom on the floor looking out the window in an cross leg position with a pillow against my back and my back against the side of my bed. You can sit in a chair, on a pillow, it doesn’t really matter, just find a comfortable position that you can stay in for 10-20 minutes without any serious discomfort. Also, make sure it’s quiet, zero distractions. A fan buzzing is fine, white noise is good. I use an app in the background called myNoise, which I just found out about and I love it (listening to it as I write.) Don’t worry about sounds you can’t control, they will happen, like a loud car outside or your dog barking downstairs, at nothing, at all…ever.
Invest in some ear-buds or over-ear headphones to help immerse yourself.
Once in position, this is how we’ll begin;
Keep your eyes open, maintaining a soft, fairly unfocused gaze for about 1 minute. Taking BIG deep breathes in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Inhale and exhale hard enough that someone next to you would hear you breathing. A good way to measure is 4 seconds in, 4 seconds out. Then after a minute or so, exhale and close your eyes, returning your breathe to a natural rhythm.
Once your eyes are closed, become mindful of your environment. I picture myself sitting where I am, in my room, becoming aware of everything around me, the objects, the senses on my body, any smells or sounds. Not reacting, just noting them. Then start to scan your body. Sensing each part of your body, head to toe, any discomforts, and pains, areas that feel at ease; analyzing each part, but not reacting, just noting.
Notice the feeling of your body against the chair, your hands on your lap or on the floor. Any sensations around, like the temperature of the room or the air moving around you.
Then start to notice your underlying mood. Are you anxious, are you frustrated, at peace? Don’t try to fix anything, just notice it, and do nothing. Do this for a moment before doing the next part. This beginning part brings you “in” as I call it, into yourself and your own senses and feelings.
Then shift your focus onto the rising feeling of you breathe. Once you feel it start to count the breathes. Inhale with 1, exhale with 2, going up to 10 and then restarting.
You will notice your mind starting to wonder here and there. Don’t feel discouraged or mad, this is normal, more so when you’re new to meditation. It happens often, even to those with years of practice. Simply notice your mind has wondered and gently bring it back to the breathe. Think of your thoughts like cars on a highway, or drops of water in a still pond, or clouds in a sky. You don’t need to focus on them, but accept the fact that they will always be there, and allow them to pass.
After you feel as though you’ve been well focused for a while, nearing the end of the meditation, let go of all focus. Think of anything. Anything at all. I like to imagine I’m an eagle or a hawk flying down through the forest trees or the side of a mountain or through a deep gorge. Do that for about 12 seconds, and then bring your mind back down to the ground. Go back to the beginning, becoming aware once again of the space around you. The noises, the smells, the sensations, the feeling of your body against the floor/chair. Once you feel you have come back down, slowly open your eyes and take a big deep breathe.
This is all much easier with a guided mediation app like Headspace, but just from reading this alone, I can assure you that you now know more about basic meditating fundamentals than 90% of anyone you know. Probably more like 99% but it doesn’t matter. Meditation is very important in my life, and has been great for dealing with the stress of every day life. I feel more focused, more calm, less reactive and emotional.
In part, I can credit these feelings to the teaching of stoicism, which go hand in hand with meditative practices. The similarities between Buddhism and Stoicism are rather vast, with one being an ancient philosophy, and one being an even more ancient religion. Many truths lie in these teachings, and one of them is the power of meditation.
On a side note, there has been a good deal of scientific data done around meditative practices, and with that alone it is clearly worth doing, even for as little as 10 minutes a day.
I hope you enjoyed this article and I hope it has taught you a thing or two that you can apply in your daily rituals and your journey for living a better and more fulfilling life.
I tried to keep this short to the best of my ability without squandering quality, I do plan on writing more about mediation soon enough. If you had any topics you’d like me to focus on, please feel free to let me know.
And if you do get good at this, just remember, as far as meditation goes, this is only the very very tip of the iceberg.
– Forever a student.