1. Before you get started
Before you start, the first thing you need to do is take care of a few practicalities.
When are you going to meditate each day? Where can you sit peacefully and undisturbed? How will you even remember to do it?
Taking 10 minutes out each day shouldn’t be so difficult, but for many people it is. Even though it’s only about 1% of your entire waking day, it’s easy to overlook it or get caught up in everything that’s going on. So the first step is committing to practice regularly; make it a routine to meditate daily.
Next, the best way to make that happen is to make it a regular part of your schedule. Find or create a space to sit at, the same time each day, just like you shower at the same time each day. Keep in mind that mornings seem to work best for most people, but find a time that works for you. (You’re more likely to doze off straight after meals, though.) Where you do it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re unlikely to be interrupted. A bit of background noise is no problem.
And lastly, wear whatever you like, although you might want to loosen belts or ties, or slip off high heels.
2. Get settled
Find a quiet space where you can sit comfortably and relax in a chair with your hands resting on your knees or in your lap. Keep your back straight; it might help to sit at the front of the seat. Relax your neck, with your chin slightly tucked in.
Whether you’re following an MP3 or using a timer, commit to practising for the full time you’ve set aside, whether you find the session easy or difficult.
3. Breath deeply
Defocus your eyes, gazing softly into the middle distance. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, take deep audible breaths. Allow your eyes to close, on the last exhalation.
4. Check in
Take a few moments to settle into your body. Notice the sensations where your feet meet the ground and your body touches the chair and gently observe your posture. Feel the weight of your arms and hands resting on your legs.
Acknowledge your senses by taking notice of anything you can hear, smell or taste and sensations of heat, cold or wind.
5. Scan your body
Slowly turn your mind inwards. From head to toe, scan your body to observe any discomfort or tension. Simply take note of what you find without trying to change it. Scan again to notice which parts of your body feel relaxed. Each scan should take about 20 seconds.
Now turn your awareness to your thoughts. Notice any thoughts that come up without attempting to change them. Take note of your underlying mood, become aware of what’s there without judgement. If there’s no obvious thought or feeling, that’s fine, just focus on the light that you see and on your breath.
6. Consider the “Why”
Pause for around 30 seconds and consider why you’re sitting today. Recognize any expectations or desire you’ve brought along, and let it go. For example, you might realise you’re hoping to stop your thoughts, and so this is an opportunity to remind yourself that it’s impossible to do this.
Spread the love: take a moment to consider the wider effects of feeling calmer. Being mindful today helps you feel better, which respectively has a positive effect on people you encounter during the day, from partners to your bus driver to colleagues. Becoming aware of this ripple effect can greatly benefit you.
Nothing to achieve: before you continue in the session, remind yourself that there’s no “thing” for you to do here; your only job is to sit for the full meditation session, but beyond that there is nothing for you to do in the normal sense of the word. Stepping back and letting it all unfold in its own time and own way is all you have to do.
7. Observe the breath
Bring your attention to your breathing, this doesn’t require you to make any effort because it’s not about changing it, observing the rising and falling sensation that it creates in your body is what matters. Notice where these sensations occur; be it your chest, your belly, your shoulders, or anywhere else. For a few seconds, focus on the quality of each breath, noting whether it’s shallow or deep, short or long, fast or slow.
Begin silently counting the breaths: as you inhale 1, as you exhale 2, on the next inhalation 3, and so on, up to 10. Then start again at 1.
While doing this, it’s completely normal for thoughts to bubble up. You don’t need to “do” anything; just guide your attention back to the breath when you realise the mind has wandered off. If you can remember, start again from the number you had counted up to or simply start from 1 again and continue until the timer sounds.
8. Allow your mind to be free
Spend 20 – 30 seconds just sitting. You might find yourself inundated with plans and thoughts, or feel focused and calm. Whatever happens while you meditate is completely fine, just enjoy the rare chance to let your mind simply be.
9. Prepare to finish
Become aware once more of the physical feelings: of where your feet touch the floor, the chair beneath you, your arms and your hands resting in your lap. Notice and observe anything you can hear, smell, feel or taste. Then slowly open your eyes when you are ready.
10. Take it with you
Before standing up, form a clear idea about what you’re going to do next, like making a cup of tea, brushing your teeth or getting your keys to leave the house. It’s so easy to just jump off the seat and lose the calm and you to the next activity.
Touch base: throughout the day, find small moments to remind yourself what it felt like to have that focused attention and clarity. Maybe when you drink your morning coffee, when you’re on the bus or when you sit down at your desk at work. You don’t need to do the whole exercise; just take a couple of deep breaths, observe any areas of tension and notice how you feel.
How does Meditation Benefits You
“Suffering is due to our disconnection with the inner soul. Meditation is establishing that connection.” Amit Ray
Now that you know how to meditate, the challenge is to find the motivation to start. When you don’t feel like doing something it’s probably because there is no meaning to be found or gain to be made, in the considered activity. Rest assured, there are many ways in which meditation can benefit you:
Meditation helps reduce pain, stress, anxiety and depression. It can prevent high blood pressure, improve the immune system and make you feel rejuvenated. Meditation also increases your overall vitality by strengthening your heart. The nervous system is relaxed and the process of aging can slow. The body gets a deep rest, even deeper than the rest we experience during sleep.
Meditation has been proven to improve memory, academic performance and stamina. And to awaken in you, the capacity to learn and solve problems by expanding your perspective. Through meditation, the mind becomes clearer as your brain power is boosted by building new neural connections, increasing your brain wave frequency and the production of healthy hormones.
Meditating stabilises our emotional state with peace to bring about greater acceptance and respect towards ourselves and others. This positive mindset results in job satisfaction, increased productivity and healthier relationships.
When you meditate, you access your subconscious mind where past traumas can be dealt with, karma cleared and and balance energy centres (Chakras) healed. Stillness helps you to overcome limiting beliefs, to align mind and body, and to increase your ability to visualize and manifest your desires.
A deeper and more advanced understanding of meditation guides you to discover the power of the soul beyond the ego, as you experience a sense of oneness with the universe, as you transcend space and time, to connect with your higher self.
Start living in the now! To deepen your capacity to love, to tap into the full potential of your soul and find answers beyond your imagination, meet meditation!