Meditation Basics and Tips

meditation tips, basicsWhere to start?

I recommend beginning with “feeling the breath” meditation. It is very basic and requires nothing but your breath. If you would like more structure, try “counting the breath”. Guided meditations and guided imagery are also often easier for beginners. With each of these, you listen as you are guided through different methods.

A place to practice:
Create a place where you can be without distraction and feel at peace for your practice.

When to practice:
It is often recommended meditation and yoga first thing in the morning, and for good reason. Rising early, before others in your home can assure peace and quiet. Knowing that you will be able to have some time without interruption helps you to achieve relaxed state. There is also something magical about greeting the sun as it comes up. Early morning practice also sets the tone for the rest of the day as you align yourself with peace.¬†Alternatively, your schedule or ‘wiring’ may not be conducive to early morning practice. If that is the case, try different times and see what feels right.

Time:
I recommend starting meditation for short periods at first (5 minutes at a time). Then work up to whatever feels comfortable. Using a timer is a great help so you don’t have to break from a peaceful state to look at the clock.

What to wear: If possible, remove your shoes, loosen any tight clothing. You may want to have a light blanket or sweater around your shoulders.

Do not rush:
It is important not to rush into meditation. If you are running late, keep the meditation short or make other plans to fit it in. I can tell you from experience, rushing in and out of meditation just doesn’t work.

Soak in the peace:
Allowing adequate time gives you the ability to bask in the feeling of peace and calm created by your practice. Linger for a bit after your meditation and feel the effects in your mind, body, and spirit. Close with a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to connect with your true nature.

Carry it it with you:
When stress arises, recall the peacefulness of your practice. Let it remind you of who you are. Treat yourself and other with love and compassion.

Removing mental obstacles:
Many people think meditation will be difficult, not realizing it is simply a relaxed state of heightened awareness. Don’t worry about whether you are meditating the right or wrong way. Every meditation experience is different. Experience thoughts passing through the mind like fluffy clouds passing through the sky. Dont follow or attempt to forcefully drive any thoughts; just passively notice them and let them go. If you feel any anxiety or distraction, just return to following your breath.

Meditation Positioning:
First, find a comfortable position. It is preferred to sit during meditation practice because it can be easy to fall asleep if one is too comfortable lying down. This being said, I have done both successfully. This is your time to meditate and you need to do what works for you.

meditation postureIf sitting, whether in a chair or on the floor, take a moment to twist and stretch first. Then lift the head and neck slightly, making yourself straight and tall. Lean a bit in each direction until you find a comfortable center. You also may feel more comfortable with some back support. You may want to sit with your back against a wall. Most of us are not used to sitting for long periods of time without support. It does come with practice but initially you may want to try a short time without support and then move into a supported position when needed.

If on the floor, legs are usually crossed as in the above pictured position. I usually sit on a cushion or stool with legs in ‘easy pose’ (Indian style). Having your seat lifted up on a cushion, blanket or stool is easier on your back and stomach muscles. There are more details about alternative positioning but we are just keeping it simple here.