The following is a very simple form of meditating, and gives a clear idea of how to meditate if you are just starting the practice.
Sit up tall, crown of the head reaching towards the ceiling. Lean back and align your spine and head right over your pelvis. Let your hands relax on your legs, your shoulders soften, and your face and jaw be soft. Close your eyes, and take three clearing breaths, sighing out audibly with each one.
As you move through the first part of this exercise, notice when your mind begins to drift away or “gets hooked” by a thought. When this happens, gently acknowledge that it has happened (you can simply say “thoughts” to yourself), and bring your awareness back to the body.
Begin first by noticing your body through your senses: What does your seat feel like on the chair/cushion? What does the texture of your clothes feel like on your skin? Does the temperature of your skin feel cold or warm? How do your feet feel inside your shoes? Continue this way throughout the whole body.
Now, what sounds do you hear? Can you hear all the different ones in the room, even the most subtle? Can you hear your own breath? What about your neighbors?
Notice any smells in the room. How many can you notice? Without labeling them as pleasant or unpleasant, just notice. If there aren’t any smells you recognize right away, can you feel the coolness of the clean air as you inhale?
Finally, notice what you see on the screen of your eyelids. What colors, shapes, lights, or splotches appear, if any? If it is just dark, can you notice that?
Now that you are relaxed and focused on the present moment, you can start your meditation. Begin to breathe deeply and rhythmically, trying to even out the inhales and exhales to about equal in length (four – five seconds). Focus all of your awareness on your breath—how it travels into the body, the sensations as it moves past the nostrils, down the throat, expands the lungs and ribs, lifts the chest. Then follow it back out—notice the stomach softening, the ribs and lungs relaxing, the shoulders soften, and the warm temperature of the air as it exits the nose.
REMEMBER: Keep the focus on your breath, and, again, if the mind wanders (which it will!) simply acknowledge that it has, and gently bring your focus back to the breathe (even if you do this 1,000 times!). This is the key. Having a “blank mind” is impossible, so don’t make that your goal. Let yourself come back again and again to your point of focus (in this case, the breath) and, eventually, the span of time in which you leave your focus will slowly begin to shorten. There is no right way to meditate—like everything else, practice will make your experience with it a more fruitful one!
And that’s how to meditate. (Or how to get started, anyway!)
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