We’ve heard that meditation is going to make life a little easier. We rest our mind and our body and settle ourselves into the limitless abyss far, far away from the *insert utility* bill.
I struggle with meditation and stillness. I have a fabulous raging sea of emotions and fall overboard with overthinking about how I need to be meditating properly until I reach a friendly shore and then, I relax.
So, if you’re starting out with meditation, please don’t beat yourself up about your wild mind. It is a natural condition. In time you will learn to work kindly with the barrage of thoughts and you will find some clarity and peacefulness.
1. Sit like you mean it
Posture is important. My osteopath tells me that all the time. Turns out, if you’re slumped over then your mind will drift. Straighten your spine with your head upright then your mind and body will balance itself. Also, a great start is to open your eyes to allow yourself to be in a soft gaze. Try it out. It could just stop that drift into overthinking about last night’s conversation with your *insert relative here*.
2. Focus your breath
Your breath is like a natural door that connects ‘inside’ with ‘outside’. Focus is usually attributed to concentration but in meditation focus is about soft attention to our body and breath and surrendering to the moment without rush or meaning. It’s a great way to anchor yourself into the moment. Your breath streams in and out and keeps you alive. There is no need for control or regulation. It just is.
3. Stop; collaborate and listen
If you are having difficulties settling, you can try counting the breath – which is an ancient meditation practice. On your outbreath, silently count “one”, then “two”, and up to “four”. Then return to “one”. Whenever you notice your thoughts have strayed far away or you find yourself counting “thirty-three”, simply return to “one”. In this way, “one” is like coming home to the present moment. It’s good to return without a backward glance. Do the same with thoughts that drift in. Acknowledge them and then return to “one”.
4. How long does this go for?
Meditation music is so comforting when I’m getting a massage or quietly writing and pottering. Silence is golden for meditation. We get to experience what our minds are actually doing.
Silence also makes time seem much longer as there is nothing to distract us. You may meditate for 10 minutes and want to practice that. 25 minutes is enough time to settle your mind without putting too much stress on your body. There are no ‘shoulds’ though. Do what is right for you.
5. Enjoy yourself
What is better than self-care? I like to create a place to sit just for me. It has my stones and flowers around me. It has colour and an energy of peace. My own space with my own objects. This helps me enjoy meditation and motivates me to visit my breath because it’s so enjoyable.
You might like to try sitting with a hint of a smile each day. It’s a great way to be kind to yourself and you deserve it.