With hectic schedules and the many responsibilities of life it is easy to begin feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Meditation can help give you a calmer outlook on life, allowing you to remain more focused throughout the day, giving you a sense of balance. Mediation puts you in touch with your own mind so you can be more constructive and find inner peace. Understanding the basics of how to meditate can help you take better advantage of what this exercise has to offer.
How to Meditate
During a mediation session, you are welcome to sit cross-legged on the floor or sit upright in a chair based on what would make you feel most comfortable. Keep the spine upright and the head up as opposed to slumping, allowing the mind and body to remain intertwined. Sit up straight, envisioning yourself bringing your head up to touch the sky so you can remain balanced.
- Legs. The legs are typically crossed, ridding the body of feelings of attachment.
- Hands. Place the right hand in the left hand with the palms facing upward, allowing the tips of the thumbs to touch slightly.
- Back. Keep the back straight, but not in a way that causes you to be tense. This allows your thoughts and energy to flow more freely.
- Lips and Teeth. Keep your lips and teeth in a natural position. Allow the tongue to touch the back of the upper teeth to prevent excess salivation without allowing your mouth to become excessively dry.
- Head. Keep the heat tipped forward slightly, tucking the chin so the eyes can remain cast down, limiting your chances of your mind wandering or becoming excited.
- Eyes. Keep your eyes open so you can remain in the present, but lower your eyes and keep the gaze soft so you do not become distracted. Closing the eyes can allow you to drift away into other thoughts, but if this is more comfortable for you, this is fine.
- Shoulders. Shoulders should remain in line with the body, but should be relaxed. Allow your shoulders to gently move with your breathing.
Focusing your attention on the breath can help you anchor yourself to the present. Note your breath as it streams in and out, but not in a way that causes you to regulate your breathing. If you have trouble settling into a meditative state, try counting your breaths, cycling one through four.
When you are in the present, it is easy to “tune out” or go on autopilot. During mediation you want to avoid this phenomenon. When focusing in the present it is also easy to become sharp and edgy which is not ideal for meditation. Instead of focusing on something in particular, put a particular thought in the center of your focus. If you find your thoughts wandering, make a point of returning to counting your breaths. Do not try to suddenly stop your thoughts as this can cause you to feel agitated. Simply gently ask the thoughts to fad and return your attention back to your breath.
If you are struggling with strong emotions, it can be difficult to find an air of calm while you meditate. Anger, shame or fear can take over your mind and disrupt your session. If this happens, focus on the feelings within your body that accompany these emotions. You may notice anger roiling in the belly or fear tightening the chest. Focus on letting these feelings go so you can let the stories go as well, focusing your thoughts.
While many versions of meditation music are available, it is often better to meditate in silence so you can focus your mind more effectively. Mediating in a silent atmosphere will allow you to place more focus on what is going on in your mind so you can keep your thoughts steady and bring about a feeling of rest.
Some like to create a special place to sit while they meditate, such as an altar or shrine. Some like to light candles, incense or surrounding themselves with meaningful objects. Create a space that is comfortable and allows you to generate a feeling of calm.
Wearing comfortable clothing is a must when meditating. Clothing that is uncomfortable can cause a distraction that takes away from your overall experience. There is no specific type of clothing that is most appropriate for this task, so long as the person meditating does not focus on their clothes while performing the exercise. Some find it easiest to avoid wearing clothing at all to ensure that there are absolutely no distractions while meditating.
If you are new to meditating, start with ten minute sessions and extend them if you feel they are too short. Never force yourself to meditate for longer if you are not ready to do so. Trying to force your mind to focus while you meditate can put your body under stress.
Above all, you should do what it takes to enjoy your meditation setting. Sit in a comfortable position with a hint of a smile. Do not force yourself to take on more of a meditation session than you can handle so you do not wind up stressed.
If you're one of the beginners, here's a video to help you learn how to meditate: