By Gillian B
Have you heard about meditation and you’ve wanted to give it a try? Here’s your chance!
What is meditation all about?
There are many different ways to meditate. Depending on your learning style and personality, you may connect more with one way than another. Some people do well with repeating mantras, counting down, following their breath and using guided visualizations. I suggest test-driving as many different techniques as you can and figuring out what’s the best fit for you.
In this video, I interviewed one of my teachers, Paul Lara from Qi Belly in Toronto, on the topic of meditation:
If you want to learn more about the scientific powers of meditation, CLICK HERE.
Here is a simple meditation technique for beginners (read through before closing your eyes!)
1) Set Yourself Up for Success
Using blocks, bolsters or some pillows, prop your bum up and sit cross-legged. The goal here is to get your bum up high enough so that you can touch both knees down to the ground, creating a ‘tripod’ with your knees and bum.
If for whatever reason sitting on the ground just doesn’t work for you, sitting up tall in a chair works just fine too, just make sure you’re comfortable. Place your hands in your lap or on your knees or thighs, in your position (mudra) of choice.
2) Shift Your Focus Inward
Start to tune your focus to track the sensations in your body, instead of actively listening to what is going on around you.
Feel your sit bones (bum bones) ground down into the Earth, and gently pull up your pelvic floor muscles with little force. Starting at the base of your spine, stack up one vertebra at a time over your hips. Feel the chest lift and open, and your shoulder blades slip down your back. Then with your eyes closed all the way or open just a sliver, soften the muscles behind them and let them sink back away from the lids. Lastly, bring your awareness to the crown of your head, and feel it being drawn upward toward the sky, as though there is an invisible string lifting you up.
3) Go Deeper
With the body set up and comfortable, you can now begin to shift your awareness inward a little deeper. Start by lengthening and deepening your breath and just watching it, like you might watch waves of the ocean, continuously flowing in and out. Follow it with your focus. When your mind wanders, which it will, bring your focus back to your breath.
The practice of meditation is NOT to clear your mind of thoughts (it’s not possible!), the goal is to observe the mind activity without judging it, and to continuously guide yourself back to this neutral place when your awareness wanders off with a thought.
More Tips for Beginners:
- When you are starting out, some people like to set a timer on their phones with a gentle chime so they know when they have reached the end of their time. I personally don’t use a timer because I think it takes away from my experience. I find that I am thinking more about how much time is left and anticipating the ringer going off, but that’s just me! Try it and see if it resonates with you.
- If you are having trouble calming your mind, try a guided meditation. There are endless meditations on Youtube, and there are even downloadable meditation challenges. They are great for beginners because they give you something to focus on. As you progress and feel ready, you can take the training wheels off and practice on your own.
- While it may be less regular at the beginning, meditation is most effective when it is done daily. Each time you sit quietly and be with yourself, you are chipping away at the ridged boundary that keeps you from knowing your true self. With consistent effort, this place of peace and stillness is easier to find and access. Think of it like a door that is used regularly, versus one that hasn’t been opened in years. The hinges of the unused door would rust and the door would be harder to open. So patience and steady effort is required.