The benefit of following a routine practice of meditation is known to most of us however there still seems to be a great deal of myth and misunderstanding about the ‘how to’ of best practice.
My experience is there is no right or wrong way. If you are taking time out of your head, however you chose to do that, then it can only benefit your life.
Below is a simple ten step guide which I follow with clients who are interested in getting started. By no means the be all and end all, following this process will however get you on your way and comfortable with taking time out, for you.
1. Before you start
- Firstly, make the decision to be kind to yourself.
- A personal commitment to meditate every day for 90 days, for a minimum of 10 minutes is an ideal starting point.
- Choose your space. Somewhere that you can settle comfortably, undisturbed. This could be as simple as the corner of your favourite room in the house.
- Decide on a time of day that works best for you.
- Sit yourself comfortably with your hands resting wherever suits you.
- Ensure your head and neck are relaxed and not resting - This will stop you falling asleep.
- Start your timer for your desired amount of time - Ensure to make it as easy as possible for yourself - At first even just 10 minutes can feel like an eternity - we are simply not used to sitting still without some sort of distraction - Setting a timer allows you to forget about the time and fully immerse yourself in your time with yourself - Commit to your chosen amount of time, even if it feels difficult. You can always choose to shorten it next time.
3. Consider your why
- What is it you most want to accomplish from your meditation today?
- What is it you most want to accomplish from a continued meditation practice?
- Slowly start to close your eyes - Don’t force. Gently allow your lids to relax.
- Relax your mouth. Not open or closed, in that in between place where your jaw, teeth, tongue and lips are relaxed.
- Take a long slow in breath through your nose - Count the in-breath if you wish, or simply allow it to flow in slowly and deeply. - Take the breath down the back of your throat, in to your chest and lungs and then deeper down in to your belly - Imagine your breath filling every part of your body, in to your limbs and right out to your fingers and toes.
- Exhale long and slow -If you counted the in breath, count the same for your out breath - Bring the breath from all of your extremities, through and up out of your belly, empty your lungs and free it from your mouth.
- Repeat this pattern.
5. Check in
- Take a moment to observe your senses - What can you feel through your body? The floor beneath your feet, the cushion, seat, sofa or bed that you are sitting on, where the skin of your hands touches whatever they are resting not. Note the texture and temperature of those things - What can you see with your closed eyes? Are there patterns or colours? Do you see images or shapes? - Are there any smells within the room? Your perfume, the scent of a candle, a meal being cooked within the house or elsewhere - Can you taste anything? - What can you hear? Is there any music playing? Is there a ticking clock? Can you hear the birds or any animals outside? Is there traffic going by?
6. Scan your body
- Slowly take a mental note of how each part of your body feels - Begin at the very top of your head and working your way down your body to the tips of your toes, notice any tension, tight spots, sore spots, aches or pains - Give any uncomfortable areas your full attention as your come across them and focus your breath in to those areas for two or three cycles.
7. Keep breathing
- Return your thoughts back to your breath.
- Focus again on in haling deeply through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
- Continue to follow your breath like the waves of the ocean.
8. Allow….. (for as long as wish to meditate for)
- Let the thoughts come to you and through you - Like clouds across the sky. Notice them, give them a moment and let them pass on by - Whether seemingly good, bad or indifferent. They are just thoughts. Treat them as such.
- As your practice comes to a close, allow your mind and body to come to the present.
- Wiggle your fingers and toes; slowly rotate your shoulders and ankles, breath life in to your neck, your pelvis and your back.
- Stretch - Really stretch, upwards and outward from your feet to the tips of your fingers. Energising every cell in your body.
10. Take note
- Take a moment to notice how you feel without judgment - Allow what has taken place in you practice to sit with you - Be comfortable with all any or all of the feelings.
- Consider keeping a notebook or diary of your practices.