Especially with New Year’s Resolutions top-of-mind, meditations been a hot topic. You’re probably well aware of the endless benefits of this practice, but what actually does meditation entail?
Simply, meditation is merely the act of bringing your mind and your brain into the same room. That’s it.
Think of every time you’re stressed, anxious or worried– your brain (and the rest of your body) is in the present, but your mind is far off in the past or the future, churning through thoughts. Meditation is the process of finding awareness around this separation, acknowledging it, then coming back fully to the present.
Find a comfortable position
I prefer to sit on the floor on the edge of a soft cushion or pillow with my legs crossed in front of me. The cushion under my tailbone tilts the spine into its natural position, stacked without any strain. Some other available options are to sit on a yoga block, to sit in a chair with both feet planted on the floor, or to even lay down completely on your back. If you find yourself falling asleep during meditation, it is suggested that you stick with an upright seated position.
Close your eyes or find a soft gaze on an object in front of you
You may meditate with your eyes gently closed or with them softly open. I prefer to focus is on the flame of a candle, as it helps me to stay awake and brings me into a trance-like state.
do a Body Scan & Relax
Relaxation starts with a comfortable position– are you sure you’re comfortable in your seated or laying position? Do a quick mental scan from head to toe and notice if you’re holding tension in your eyes, jaw, shoulders, and/or hands. If so, with each exhale, release the tension. You’ll be surprised to see how much stress you habitual hold within the body. Finding awareness while in meditation allows you to carry that awareness into your real life!
Focus on your breath
One of the most important aspects of meditation is the breath. Many people are not taking full advantage of their lung capacity, only breathing into the top 1/4 of their lungs. Considering every one of your trillions of cells need fresh oxygen to thrive, it’d be worth your while to master the art of breath. With each inhale your diaphragm (the muscle below your ribcage) should completely expand, and with each exhale your diaphragm should contract. I prefer to bring my right hand to the base of my belly, over the diaphragm, and my left hand over my heart. I can track the full expanse of my breath while simultaneously acknowledging the beating of my heart. Learning to connect the mind, body, and breath will help you to truly focus and come into the present.
Listen to your intuition
Did you know you had three eyes? 😜 Your third eye, the space between your eyebrows, holds your intuition. We all have access to this inherent wisdom, it’s just a matter of engaging and acknowledging this superpower. Because your intuitive internal messages can only come through when there isn’t loud chaos in the mind, meditation is a wonderful time to listen for your inner wisdom. When you learn to listen to your intuition and inner strength through meditation, you can then bring that practice into the rest of your life.
And that’s it! All you need for meditation is yourself. While a quiet space is preferable, meditation can be done on a busy Manhattan bus, an overcrowded plane, or even backstage, moments before you walk on to give your speech. With this practice, there is no perfect. The purpose is in the practice itself!
Need a bit more guidance? The Headspace app offers a free ’10 for 10′ (10 minutes of meditation for 10 days straight) guided meditation challenge and the Calm app offers a myriad of free audios as well.