Lessons in Meditation (Nr.1)
I know a lot of people who mediate. I also know a lot of people who would LIKE to meditate. And I know some people who would like to be somebody who would like to meditate. Long story short, the benefits are endless, it can be useful to anyone but it's not for everybody. Where ever you fit in this group, I put together some useful tips to guide you along the way!
First of all, what is meditation even good for? LOTS of things. I can ease stress, promote physical health, combat chronic pain, facilitate sleep, promote happiness, and be more present overall. Amazing, right? It's also a tool in many ways. It can help you work through difficult decisions and bring you more in touch with your true self. If nothing else, it can help you take a mindful moment in the day to breathe. 1 minute, 5 minutes, a half hour - you are the boss!
So let me present to you the first 3 tips I got for you.
You can sit on a chair or cross your legs on the floor (you can even lye down if that helps you), but make sure that your spine is properly aligned and your head is in a straight but neutral position. If you are slumped your mind will drift. Mind and body are intertwined. If your body is well-balanced, your mind will also be in balance. To straighten up, imagine that your head is attached to a string (like a rag doll) and someone is gently pulling you up.
Try and keep you eyes open. Open eyes allow you to be more present. Just lower your eyes and let your gaze be soft. If you close your eyes you will be more likely to drift away on thoughts and stories. However, it’s important to do what is comfortable for you. Some people find closing their eyes much more effective. It’s good to experiment and see what feels best for you.
In our day to day life and operations we are hardly ever present. For example, sometimes we drive the car and get lost in our thoughts. Suddenly we arrive at our destination and don’t remember how we really got there! Meditation is a wonderful way of waking up to our life in a more regular fashion. Otherwise we miss out on a lot of experiences because we are somewhere else in our head! And focus does not equate concentration. That’s like using the mind like a concentrated beam of light. But in meditation, that kind of mind isn’t helpful. It’s too sharp and edgy. To focus in meditation means to pay soft attention to whatever you place in the centre of awareness. I suggest using the breath as a focus to get started. Just witness your breath flowing in and out of your body to connect the inside with your outside. Consciously breathe and see where your mind takes you. Also, don't beat yourself up if your mind wanders! It happens and just sticking with 5 minutes of meditation a day, with your mind wandering or not, is a great start to a committed practice!