Meditation isn’t reserved for monks and mystics — it doesn’t have to be done while sitting in the lotus position on a cushion in a valley overlooking a beautiful vista. Nor is it reserved for temples, monasteries or churches. Meditation simply means sitting in silence. It can be done in any place, at any time.
Before you begin meditating, remind yourself that there is no way to fail. In other words, there is no ‘wrong’ way to meditate. All you are doing is sitting and being quiet. Meditation creates space that allows you to stop and just ‘be’.
Why is this important?
- Because only by stopping can we really understand how and where we are directing our energy and attention.
- Because we spend so much of our time ‘doing’ that we rarely give ourselves a break. In fact for many people even meditation has become something else they have to do so that they can achieve a certain desired state — which misses the point.
- Because our bodies and our nervous system need a rest.
The benefits you’ll receive from meditating are limitless, but here are just a few:
- Deep rest and relaxation
- Open mind and heart
- Be comfortable in your own body
- Be present in your life
- Hearing your own inner guidance
The benefits of meditation are a byproduct of letting everything be as it is. If we set out to obtain these by meditating, we are just doing more ‘doing’ and in the end, it will not work.
In its purest form, meditation has no agenda. It’s not about achieving a state of peace or tranquility. This is one of the biggest myths about meditation — and the cause of one of the most common pitfalls. Remember, if you sit down in meditation with the goal of becoming peaceful and tranquil, the minute you encounter all of your the mind’s ‘noise’ you will become discouraged and feel like you have failed.
As you begin to meditate, you may notice that you tend to identify with one of the three aspects of your being: mind, body or emotions.
All three are active in all of us, but we each tend towards one in particular. Just notice, without judgment, where your attention goes.
MIND: If you’re in your mind, you might be thinking, am I doing this right? What are my plans for tomorrow? and of course, your mind may get lost in stories.
BODY: If you’re in your physical body, you may experience heightened physical sensations such as body aches, headaches, tiredness, etc.
EMOTIONS: Someone who is focused on emotions will drift toward feelings, such as confusion, sadness, exhilaration or frustration.
This is all just part of the natural process. If you become lost in the story or attached to an emotion or find yourself noticing a physical symptom such as a headache, simply notice where your attention has wandered to try not to change anything. Just let it be as it is.
Try the guided meditation below and let me know how it goes by sharing your experience on my Facebook page or commenting in the box below.
Step-by-Step Guide to Meditation
As we discussed, the purpose of meditation is to let everything BE AS IT IS. This can be hard because most of us are so programmed to be productive at all cost!
Our best tool here is our breath, which will always bring us back to the present moment. The purpose of this guided meditation is to begin to understand how we have control over our attention, and where it goes. Attention is a very powerful tool — we cannot control our mind’s thoughts or our body’s feelings, but we can control where our attention goes.
One of the most important things to remember when you are meditating is this: Do not try to manipulate or change your state. Simply be with what is and notice the coming and going of thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
So, let’s begin. A good place to start is by following our breath.
Step 1: Find a place where you will not be disturbed. Sit down, close your eyes and just notice your breath. Don’t try to change anything; let everything be as it is. If you notice your mind chatter or emotions or physical body, don’t try to change anything.
Step 2: Once you are in a comfortable position, begin noticing your breath. Don’t try to change it in any way, just notice its coming and going.
Step 3: Once this feels comfortable, imagine a point just below your belly button. Relax and breathe deeply through that point in your belly, allowing it to expand and relax. Now, as you are breathing from this place, notice your attention as it rests calmly on your breath.
Step 4: If you attention wanders, simply bring it back to your breath. Let everything else be as it is, we do not have to wait for a quiet mind or the right state, just come back to your breath and notice how everything just comes and goes.
Step 5: Continue this practice for 10 minutes. You can set a timer so you know when to stop. If 10 minutes feels like too much, begin with five minutes or even two minutes. The important thing is to give the experience a try.