People have many misconceptions about meditation. I’d like to shed some light on the perceived mystery. First I will cover the logistics of making some space for quiet time, and then I will provide a few techniques that I like. Please feel free to post some of your favorite techniques so that we all might benefit!
Schedule your quiet time into your daily life. It is easy to invent reasons why you can’t take 10 minutes out of our day, but if you already have it built in, then there are no excuses!
Make sure your area for quiet time is free of distractions. Make sure the phone is on silent mode. If you have pets/roommates/a partner/kids that could interrupt quiet time, then close the door to the room, and ask them not to interrupt (please). You may want to listen to soothing music. I use Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s brain wave CD’s. You can check him out here. I use the Alpha or Theta Wave CD’s for meditation.
Remember that meditation is not about emptying your mind of thoughts. This is pretty impossible! Rather, it is about being conscious of the thoughts, rather than getting caught up in the mind’s wheel. You know how sometimes you just zone out and the brain is running like a hamster on a wheel? Well, this might happen while you are meditating. This is okay. The important thing is to realize that you zoned and pull yourself back to your breath. And then when it happens the next time, just pull yourself back again. And remember to be gentle with yourself! You are not “messing up” by getting caught in thought. Instead, be glad that you were aware of it.
One meditation instructor said that all you have to do to meditate is to make that space for meditation and sit. This is so true. There are so many ways to meditate. It’s all about finding what is right for you. All methods start with deep belly breathing. You may find it helpful to have your hand on your lower abdomen so you can feel its rise and fall. You may want to close your eyes, or you may want to leave them open. You may want to sit comfortably, or lie down. Here are a couple of methods that work for me:
1. Focus on the in and out of your breath. When a thought enters your mind, acknowledge it and let it become raindrops that fall into a pristine pool of water. Or you might want to envision your thought becomes part of a waterfall. Use whatever water analogy works for you.
2. Another way is to do a yogic breath called the ujjayi breath. It sounds a bit like the ocean. I like to use this breath because since it is audible, it is impossible not to focus on it. The noise also tends to drown my thoughts. How do you do it? Purse your lips and pretend you are sucking on a straw. Do you feel how the back of your throat closes slightly? Next close your mouth and breathe through your nose, but keep the same slight tightness in the back of the throat. It may take a little practice, but once you get it, you’ve got it. Here is a link to a video of the ujjayi breath.
So the main lesson to take away from this is to do what feels right for you, and to not be hard on yourself when you get caught up in your thoughts. Just keep shining that light of awareness on your thoughts, and you are doing great!