We all know by now that meditation is good for us. Like, really, really good. That’s been established again and again and again. We know high-level hustlers like Ariana Huffington and Oprah meditate. In a nutshell, we should all have a regular meditation practice because it will make us kinder, happier, and more productive.
You get it already. But HOW do you actually meditate? Here’s the thing: there is no ONE way to meditate. Essentially, meditation is perceiving your true Self IN yourself BY yourself. It’s when your mind is completely at peace but you are still conscious and connecting with your true Self (i.e. soul, God within you, the universe, the force, etc.)
Here’s another explanation:
Meditation is a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. It is the means for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the center of consciousness within. Meditation is not a part of any religion; it is a science, which means that the process of meditation follows a particular order, has definite principles, and produces results that can be verified. (Yoga International)
Personally, I aim to meditate for 15-20 minutes every day. Aside from the established amount of time, what I do in each meditation practice depends on my mood, the weather, what’s weighing on me, etc. Sometimes one technique will resonate with me, other times it won’t at all. Sometimes I use a mantra, sometimes I do breath counting, sometimes I do a chakra scan, and sometimes I listen to instrumental music. Sometimes I close my eyes, and sometimes I gaze at whatever is in front of me (especially if I’m somewhere beautiful, like the beach).
It will take time and exploration to develop a strong meditation practice. Here’s one technique that’s great to start with:
- Set a timer for 10 minutes.
- Come to a comfortable seated position with your spine straight. Keeping your spine straight will help you stay focused and go deeply into yourself. You can sit on a cushion and even gently lean against something if that helps.
- Place your hands on your legs with your palms facing upwards. This is a gesture of receptivity – you are open to receiving what the universe will give you.
- Close your eyes and start to notice each of your senses. The air on your skin, scents, noises, what you see behind your eyelids, and the taste of your mouth.
- Start to move inward, focusing on your breath. Bring your focus to the area around your heart.
- Now take a deep breath in through your nose for four counts. Hold the breath at the base of your spine for four counts. Then exhale out through your nose for four counts. Inhale 1, 2, 3, 4 – hold 1, 2, 3, 4 – exhale 1, 2, 3, 4.
- Start to visualize the breath as a ball of light moving up and down your spine as you inhale and exhale.
- As you continue to breathe for the remainder of the time, either keep the counts going or fall into the natural rhythm of your breath – whatever feels right for you.
- If a thought pops up, notice it but don’t engage with it. See it as a cloud floating away.
- Continue breathing and exploring for the remainder of the time. If you get distracted, don’t sweat it, just come back to the breath.
“Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God.”