A Starter Guide To Meditation
Meditation is an ancient practice that can bring about a sense of peace and relaxation to the mind and body. This guide will provide the basics for new meditators, so that you can begin to experience the calming benefits of meditation for yourself today!
Before beginning, make sure you have a comfortable place to sit or lie down. It’s important that your posture is relaxed, but also in a position in which the body is supported with a blanket or cushion if needed. It is not required that you be sitting upright in a cross legged position. Do what feels best in your body to start. You can also set the mood by diffusing an essential oil, lighting a candle, or taking some time outdoors and sitting in nature. Whatever you desire to create an environment that best supports your own personal relaxation.
Set an Intention:
A great way to strengthen your meditation practice is by setting an intention (or purpose in mind) before beginning. Start by thinking of what you are desiring most in your life at the moment. For example, you may want to feel more connected to your body, let go of intrusive thoughts, find clarity about a situation in your life, or foster courage to take action. Next, word the desired outcome as if it has already occurred. In the above example of wanting to feel more connected to your body, a potential intention would be, "I feel connected to my own body and mind". Take a few breaths and create an intention that feels right for you. Focus on that intention as you begin your meditation practice, and at the end of practice repeat the intention.
Relax Your Body:
Settling into your meditation posture (however that looks for you), start closing the eyes or softening the gaze. Mentally relax any tension you are holding in your body. As you allow your body to begin to relax, focus your attention on your breath. Feeling the gentle expansion and contraction of your belly like a balloon filling with air, as you take each breath in and each breath out. See if you can follow an entire breath from the start of the inhale all the way through your exhale. Doing this for even just a few minutes will begin to bring a sense of calm and relaxation to both your body and mind.
Focus on your Breath:
As your body becomes more relaxed, keep focusing on your breath and the sensation of the breath moving throughout your body. The coolness of the breath as it flows in, and the warmth of the breath as it flows out. The gentle wave of the breath moving through your body without any effort or control on your part. Rather than trying to control or alter your breath, simply observe the natural flow of each in-breath and out-breath. Each time your mind wanders away from your breath, gently bring yourself back to your breath. Allow yourself the permission to let everything else go.
Practice Gentle Acceptance:
It’s important to become comfortable with your meditation practice and to allow yourself to be in all of the ways that you are without judgement, embarrassment or shame. As you observe your breath, gently accept whatever thoughts and emotions come up and watch as they pass through your mind. Do not try to stop thinking, as this is impossible. Meditation is not a lack of thinking. It is just a space from constantly following our thoughts, allowing us the time to choose which thoughts to follow and engage in.