There’s a meditation style to suit whatever you’re doing. Some styles of meditation are better suited to how you want to feel and what you’re currently engaged in.
Here is a simple walk through to guide you in your meditation practice.
If you’ve just woken up: Try Mindful Breathing
This is the classic meditation; a light awareness settled on your breath at a point in your body such as your nostrils or chest. The reason this is so great in the morning is that the mind isn’t yet at chaotic as it could be further into the day. And if you do it almost as soon as you’ve woken up, or before doing any other major tasks like exercising or making breakfast, then your mind is still hovering somewhere in that dreamy state which I find is actually very helpful for settling into Mindful Breathing.
It takes some real focus to get totally aware and present with your breathing, but that effort, even for just ten to fifteen minutes has a wonderful positive ripple effect into the rest of your day. I find that starting the day with concentrating on my breath gives me some sort of inner stability for the rest of my day. I don’t get so knocked back emotionally if something goes awry; it centres me.
The way I personally find best, is I work on ten minutes over a period of a few weeks until I’m comfortable. Then I up it to 15 minutes, then go to twenty minutes in the following weeks. But I remember to be gentle with myself, and allow myself to go backwards if I must – something is better than nothing after all.
I get up, make a cup of tea, drink some of it, and then set the alarm for however long I’ve chosen to sit for. I sit on some cushions in a cross legged position, but you can try lying down, or sitting with a back support either on the floor or on a chair.
I find I can’t just sit down and expect myself to be meditating straight away so I like to do a few things that bring me into the present and on my way into mindful awareness.
Straight away I take control of my breath. I breathe in and breathe out slowly, and I say the word “In” on every in breath, and “Out” on every out breath. I also make sure that there’s no tension on my forehead or between my eyebrows. I bring intention to my practice; I know that I am here, now to be present and to simply feel all I can feel of my breath as it comes in and out through my nose.
I have a little trick that seems to bring me into the present quite quickly. I simply try to look at the inside of my eyelids! I know, that sounds bizarre! It’s like focusing on the tip of your nose with your eyes closed, but I swear it seems to bring me straight into the present. It brings me into myself, right into the here and now. Sometimes it feels a bit tense to be pulling focus so close, but as soon as I see that blackness and multi-coloured dots behind my eyelids (just me?) then I release the focus and come back into my breathing.
Once I start to get a sense of really being present and aware, I release the ‘in and out’ mantra, I release control of my breath and I just settle into the mindful mode of feeling my breath. I get curious about it, I try to feel everything I can possibly feel about my breath in my nostrils. The temperature, the sounds, the sensations. I think, and then I realize I’m thinking; I don’t judge myself – but come right back to feeling the sensation of breathing again. And again. And again. Meditating is pulling away from thoughts (just turning down the volume, there’s no off switch unfortunately) and coming into present moment feeling.
And that’s it!
Simple, but not easy. Your mind will wander. Mine does, everyone’s does. I often find, like running, I hit a wall. I get to ten minutes and I just feel bored. But BAM! As soon as I feel that boredom, I resign myself to the practice and from there on out I’m just aware without being self-conscious, in a word, meditating. Yup, that comes and goes too. Sometimes that doesn’t happen at all, and I just get bored! I get up, and can’t do it. A part of meditation is non judgement, so I forgive and say “Hey, I showed up.”
And there’s always plenty of other times to meditate throughout the day. Om!
I’ll talk more on meditations you can do at different parts of your day in How to Meditate: Part 2.