I spoke in my last post about what exactly meditation is and the benefits of practising it regularly. In this post I want to talk you through how I meditate, in the hope that it might help you to guide your own sessions.
Before you begin, it is very important for you to realise there is no right or wrong way to meditate. People meditate for different reasons, with different intended outcomes. Some do it to focus, others to relax, some do it to generate energy, others to tune in to their body, and the great thing is that it’s totally in your hands.
I started off by using a very popular app but found that guided meditation actually hindered me from reaching that state of peace because I was constantly on edge listening for the voice, or I’d find myself wanting to go in another direction. It was definitely a good way to start and gave me an idea of what to expect, but after a week I felt I was better off doing it alone.
What do I need?
The best thing about meditation is that you don’t need anything. It doesn’t cost anything. It doesn’t take long. All you need is a quiet, safe space and however much time you can give. So follow my steps and see how you get on.
how to meditate
- Find a quiet space where you will not be interrupted. The space doesn’t need to be silent, sometimes a little background noise is actually very helpful, but it does need to be somewhere you feel safe, where you’re at a comfortable temperature and where you feel comfortable zoning out.
- Sit down in the space. I like to meditate cross legged on the floor (I like the contact with the ground) and facing the window but you can do it in a chair, on the sofa, sitting at a table, sitting on the edge of your bed, sitting in a café, outside in the park, wherever. I would only advise against meditating lying down (it’s far too easy to fall asleep).
- Once you’re sitting down, I want you to get comfortable and make sure all your muscles are completely relaxed. Soften your gaze. Don’t stare at anything, just let your eyes glaze over.
- Now I want you to take 5 – 10 really deep breaths. Feel your whole body move with the breath and make as much noise as you need to. When you feel ready, take your final deep breath and, as you breathe out, let your eyes close.
- Let your breathing return to normal. Become aware of your body. If you’re sitting on the floor, really concentrate on the feeling of the ground against your body. Feel the contact between your hands and your legs, feel your body moving with your breath. I like to take a few breaths here, really feeling the weight of my body with every exhale and feeling myself sink further and further into the ground.
- Now that you’re aware of the physical sensations, turn your attention towards other senses. Notice any smells and sounds. Don’t focus too hard on them, just imagine yourself opening up and letting all of these things come to you.
- I like to then do a full body scan. How does my body feel today? I start at the very top of my head, and I scan all the way down my body. Any areas where I feel tension/stress/pain/discomfort, I address. I don’t worry about them, I don’t try to change them, I just acknowledge them. This is almost like a check-in with the body.
- Once I’ve done the physical check, I take a big deep breath and go to “my place”. Now. This might be how you want to meditate or it might not, this is something you will need to work out for yourself. I have a place in my head which I go to, as soon as stage 7 is done. I don’t want to describe it as I want you to find your own place without influence. Essentially, one day I let my brain take me to where I’d find peace, and this place was where we went. So in stage 8 I go there and what I do there will depend on how I feel that day, what I have on, what is coming up. Sometimes I just sit and absorb it all in, other times I am more active, more daring. But I concentrate on this place and on the sensations I would feel there.
- All the while through every stage, thoughts will come into your head. That’s okay. That’s quite normal. Don’t bat them out, don’t run away from them. Just acknowledge them. You’ll come back to them later. Now is your time for peace. Spend as long as you need to in your happy place from number 8. When you feel you are done, take a deep breath.
- I then like to completely blank everything out for a little while. This may or may not be something you are able to do, as it can take time and practise. But I sit with a completely blank mind for as long as I feel comfortable.
- When I feel ready, I then bring myself back to the room, eyes still closed. I bring myself back to the physical smells, sounds and sensations. I focus on the breath again, only now each time I breathe in, I imagine myself rising up, rather than sinking into the ground, getting lighter and lighter with every breath.
- To finish, when I feel I am truly back in the environment, I take 5 large breaths, each one with an affirmation on the exhale. I don’t plan them, I just say out loud whatever comes to mind. Breath one might be “I am strong”, breath two “I radiate good energy”, breath 3 “I am healing”. And at the end I always smile.
- I then open my eyes and sit until I feel comfortable to move again. This might include having a little stretch.
- And that’s it. 10-15 minutes of utter peace.
What if I can’t stick to it?
Meditation is a discipline, just like exercise. We all know it can take a bit of time to really get into the routine and habit of exercising regularly, and meditation is no different. There will be days when you don’t really feel like doing it, just as there are with exercise, or days when you feel you don’t really need to, but I urge you to stick to it consistently for at least 3-4 weeks to see if it’s for you.
Find a time that suits you, whether it’s first thing in the morning, after lunch or maybe right before bed, and try and do your practise at the same time every day.
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