Meditation can be a healing, restorative process for many; yet like any journey, getting started can be challenging. And though meditation can take years (if not decades!) to perfect, anyone can begin with these simple, calming steps towards health of mind, body and spirit.
1. Take a seat – while you can certainly meditate while standing, most teachers recommend being seated on the floor, legs crossed – you can also use a cushion for support!
2. Close your eyes – the purpose is to eliminate or distance ourselves from distraction as much as possible, so that we can focus on what is happening within the mind.
3. Breathe – every practice starts with a renewal of concentration on the breath – try not to think, and simply let air flow in and flow out naturally.
4. Observe – as your breath deepens, pay attention to the body’s signals. Relax your back, neck, and shoulders as needed. Give yourself time to “settle in.”
5. Let the mind wander – lots of beginners report “racing thoughts” syndrome. That’s fine and normal. Relax. With time, the mind will find its balance.
6. Start within – once you’re feeling calm, begin to focus on the whole self: mind, body, and spirit together. Expand this space with thoughts of compassion and love.
7. Move away from “I” – focus thoughts and intentions on loved ones, friends, family, and teachers to cultivate what is known as Loving-Kindness Meditation.
8. Get a rhythm – for many, this can mean using aides like malas (meditation beads) to count repetitions of certain mantras. But you can always start out by saying “peace,” “courage,” or any other intention you wish to nurture.
9. Be patient – if any of these steps feels rushed or unnatural, that’s all right. You’re allowed to practice more than once, and you don’t have to get the right “feeling” every time.
10. End when you’re ready – meditation doesn’t have to close on a specific word or phrase; simply opening your eyes will signal your completion.
Now breathe, stretch, and have a snack!