Here is a guide with 4 easy steps you can follow to start your own meditation practice. You can even do these while sitting at your desk…or your work-from-home desk (a.k.a your couch).
1. Set the Atmosphere
Create your meditation atmosphere by using your senses: see, hear, smell, and touch. I know I’m leaving out “taste”, so eat a piece of chocolate and tell people it’s for meditation purposes.
Dim the lights or turn them off to allow your eyes’ focus to soften.
Find a quiet place, or turn on soothing music to drown out any background noise. (see the bottom of the article for song recommendations)
Light a favorite candle or diffuse a calming essential oil.
Introduce something that brings you comfort like sitting on a soft pillow, wrapping yourself in a fluffy blanket, or putting on your favorite hoodie.
Breathing is the essence of life. No breathing = no life. This astute observation is courtesy of me, you’re welcome! However, I bet you didn’t know that breathing is also the essence of meditation. There are many breathing techniques that you can use, but I prefer the simplest ones.
The first one you can do is the 5&5. Breathe in for a count of five and then breathe out for a count of five, and repeat.
If you aren’t much of a counting person, like myself, try something called “Ujjayi (pronounced ooh-jai-ee) Breathing” which is common in yoga practice. With your mouth closed, place your hands on your belly. As you breathe in through your nose, feel the air fill the lower part of your belly, then your rib cage, then your chest and finally, your throat. Breathe out through your nose, and repeat.
Now that you have your breathing down, lets focus on relaxation. One of the best techniques I’ve used for this, besides imagining I’m on a beach in Mexico, is called the Body Scan.
With your eyes closed, think about your body from the top of your head to the very tips of your toes. Start at the top. Focus on your forehead for a couple of seconds and acknowledge any tension you are holding there. After you have acknowledged the tension mindfully release the tension and relax your forehead. Follow this cycle of acknowledgement and then release as you work your way down your body (eyes, jaw, neck, shoulders, chest, stomach, etc..).
4. Observe Your Thoughts and Feelings
I’m no master of meditation. Hello! That’s why I wrote about an easy way to do it! You aren’t going to be able to “clear your mind” or “think about nothing at all” right away, or possibly ever. So, let’s think of a practical way to deal with our thoughts and feelings that distract us from our meditation.
It likely that three seconds into your meditation, you are thinking about work that needs to be done, chores that need to be taken care of, or in my case, a giant Golden Light hamburger and cheese fries. Guess what? That’s okay! Do you remember how I said that breathing is the essence of meditation? Acknowledge your thought (hamburger) and go right back to focusing on your breath. Continue to acknowledge your thoughts, and continue to re-focus your mind on breathing. Easy-Peasy.
Feelings manifest themselves in many different ways. They can manifest in positive ways, like your body feeling like it’s floating or your heart fluttering. Or, they can manifest in negative ways, like a tightening in your chest or a pit in your stomach. If during your meditation you start to feel negative manifestations of your emotions, the best thing to do is give that emotion a name (stress, anxiety, fear, etc.). By naming the emotion, you are owning that you are experiencing it. Then, send it away! Just like you do your kids while you’re working from home or swiping left on that dating app. Own it, send it away, and come back to your breath.
Here are some relaxing song recommendations:
- Shanti (Peace Out) – MC Yogi
- Algun Dia – Om Ovnimoon
- Devi Prayer – Craig Pruess and Ananda
If you would rather have somebody else guide you through your meditation, there’s an app for that!