How To Meditate in 8 Simple Steps

Meditation

Meditation is a great way to bring more peace and calm in your life. It's also receiving increasing attention and and scientific interest as a way to improve your health and reduce stress. People are even claiming that it can reduce ageing, boost your immune system and improve your brain function.

Regardless of whether or not you believe in meditation as the silver bullet cure all for your ills, there's little doubt that this is a pleasant and beneficial activity, and a good habit to get into.

So, how do we do it? Despite what you may have feared, meditation can actually be simple and easy. Our author Lilian Wissink - a counselling psychologist with over 20 years experience - shares here simple step by step process:

How to Meditate in 8 Simple Steps

Many meditation practices, such as within Buddhism, focus on awareness of the breath. In other traditions people use a word or sound called a mantra that they silently repeat as a way to help them stay focused — a word such as ‘peace’ or ‘calm’ or even counting from one to four.

Others silently say ‘breathing in’ with the inward breath and ‘breathing out’ with the outward breath. Although there are lots of ways to meditate it’s important to stay with whatever ‘object of attention’ you choose rather than to keep trying different ones.

What inevitably happens in the practice of meditation is that you notice your mind strays to different thoughts and other distractions such as sounds or physical sensations. This is normal and a natural part of meditation.

You simply notice this is happening in a gentle and non-judgmental way and then come back to your focus. You do this time and time again. With practice, you learn to go into a quieter, deeper place within yourself. It’s like looking at a cloudy sky, where you have layers of clouds (busy thoughts), but with practice you move into the quiet surrender of the blue sky beyond the clouds.

Meditation facilitates a deep connection to your inner creative-self. I suggest that you begin with five to ten minutes a day and gradually build up to fifteen to thirty minutes. It’s beneficial to begin with a short daily practice rather than a longer practice once a week. Success in a small goal will encourage you to keep going.

Let's Get Started

Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. You might like to create a space in your home that is inspiring for meditation. Perhaps place a beautiful cloth on a small table, light a candle, have a flower in a vase or some other symbol that is meaningful to you.

  1. Take of your shoes and loosen any tight clothing.
  2. Sit in a chair that supports your back in an upright position (unless you are comfortable sitting cross-legged on the floor on a cushion).
  3. Place your hands in your lap and have both feet supported by the floor or, if you sit on a cushion, have your knees resting on the floor on another lower cushion.
  4. Gently close your eyes. Allow your body to relax — especially your jaw, shoulders, belly and hands.
  5. Take a few minutes to scan your body from head to toe. If you notice any tension gently breathe in and out as if from this part of your body.
  6. Now allow your mind to focus on your breath (or a mantra if you prefer), either the sensation of the breath as it moves in and out of the nostrils or the rise and fall of your abdomen.
  7. When thoughts or distractions enter your mind, just notice this happening, let go and gently come back to your focus. You will do this time and time again in your meditation.
  8. At the end of your practice, slowly open your eyes and sit quietly for a minute or two. Enjoy the sense of peace and calm.

As you practise meditation you may find that creative ideas rise to the surface of your mind. This can be exciting and quite seductive and you might be tempted to follow your creative ideas during your meditation practice. But if you do, you stop meditating.

So practise letting go of these seductive, creative thoughts and give yourself some time after meditation to write them down. Keep a notebook close by, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself to remember your creative ideas. Trust that they will emerge again.

Start practicing; the more you meditate the easier and more rewarding it will be.

Lilian Wissink, a counselling psychologist with over 20 years experience, is the author of The Creative Seed - How to Enrich Your Life Through Creativity. 

 

 

--------------

photo credit: Meditating Monk at Shwedagon Pagoda via photopin (license)