Last week, we looked at what meditation is and what are the amazing benefits we can all get from it once we start meditating
The question now is: how do we meditate?
Meditation is an amazingly wide area and there are many different techniques and approaches to meditation. In this article, I am intending to introduce you to one of the most common meditation practice, that of breath awareness.
We established last week that we don’t need to have any special equipment. Depending on what you prefer, you will only need a cushion to sit on – if you want to sit on the floor – or a chair if you choose to sit that little bit higher.
How do we sit?
The first thing to consider is how you sit. If you are on the floor, you want to sit with your legs crossed. Your spine will need to be straight with your shoulders back and your chin tucked in a little bit. Make sure that you are comfortable and if you feel that you need to readjust your position while meditating, it’s absolutely fine.
On a chair, you will also need to have a straight spine with shoulders back and relaxed and you will also want to check that your feet can comfortably lie flat on the floor. If you can’t reach the floor, place either yoga blocks or some cushions on the floor until you can comfortably rest your feet flat.
For both options, you can either keep your eyes open, gently gazing ahead of you; or you can choose to close your eyes.
What do we do next?
Once you are sitting comfortably, your next step is to do a body scan. Start with your feet and carry on in the following order: legs, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms and finally head. For each part of your body, take your attention there, breathe in and as you breathe out, consciously relax that part of your body.
By the time you have finished this body scan – which only takes a few minutes – you will notice that your mind is likely to feel calmer and a little bit quieter.
You can now move your attention to your breath. Take a moment to notice where in your body you feel the breath. Some people notice it in the chest or the abdomen, while others are aware of the feeling of the breath coming in and out of the nose. Once you have identified where you comfortably feel your breath, keep your awareness there and try and follow the breath in and out of your body.
Every time that your mind wanders – and I can promise you that it will – try and bring your focus back to your breath.
As you practise, the whole process will become easier and your mind, a little bit like an unruly puppy, will start to behave itself better and will allow you to maintain your focus for longer.
In this whole process, don’t forget that you are doing this for you and that you want it to be enjoyable. Don’t force anything, sit for as long or as little as is comfortable for you, and gradually build the time spent meditating if you feel like it.
And don’t forget, you can do all of this anywhere: at home, on a train, in the tube, in a park…