My Introduction to Meditation
Nine and half years ago, I attended a 10-day meditation camp. I learned how to meditate using one of India’s most ancient techniques: Vipassana meditation which means “to see things as they really are”.
This was a silent meditation retreat, meaning nobody was allowed to talk… for 10 days. We were required to meditate 10 hours a day for 10 days, totaling 100 hours of meditation. We even ate a vegan diet; no animal products were allowed with the exception of a small jug of cow milk. (At that point in my life, I didn’t even realize it was vegan and I wasn’t a vegetarian yet.)
It was one of my top ten life experiences and I look forward to the day when I can complete another 10-day silent retreat.
Meditation is not hard.
With all that being said, meditation does not have to be that intense. I have been trying to explain simple meditation techniques to my husband, who works in emergency communications. One excellent purpose of a steady meditation practice is to help in stress reduction. I believe it really works.
How to Meditate
Set all preconceived notions of meditation aside and follow these steps.
1. Get into a comfortable position.
You do not have to sit cross-legged in the lotus position, unless that’s how you get comfortable. You may choose to sit, stand, lay down, walk, run, swim, etc. Preferably you would be stationary while learning so you can focus on relaxation, but it’s not necessary.
Pay attention to your breath.
I recommend taking a couple deep breaths first to set the tone. But after that, simply observe your normal breathing pattern. In meditation, we are trying to be fully present in the current moment, so we observe the breath to stay focused. It’s totally acceptable to just sit and be if you are able to do that. Either way, you’ll be breathing.
3. Notice your thoughts.
When thoughts pop into your mind, which they certainly will, just take notice of them. Then, return to focusing on your breath. Don’t worry about how many times you get distracted. If you get caught up in trying not to think, you might grow frustrated and become even more distracted. So, if you catch yourself feeling upset while trying to meditate, simply observe your feelings, and return to focusing on your breath.
No big deal.
4. Meditate as long as you want.
You may choose to meditate for 30 seconds, 1 minute, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 1 hour, 5 hours… It doesn’t matter. As long as you dedicate a moment in time for consistent meditation, you’ll be on your way to receiving the numerous health benefits.
5. Still can’t do it?
However, if you need one more bit of advice, try this tip. Repeat the following mantra silently while breathing for one minute:
“I’m breathing. I’m breathing. I’m breathing.”
I’ve done it and it helps block unwanted thoughts as you learn how to meditate. (Note: I received this tip from one of my all time favorite spiritual mentors, Deb Bowen from the Psychic Teachers podcast.)
My Current Meditation Practice
I’ve never had a better meditation practice than I do now. For the past 4-5 months, I’ve meditated every single night before bed.
I practice different meditation methods, including the simple sit & breathe technique as mentioned above, Vipassana meditation, prayer meditations, and various guided imagery meditations focusing on chakra work, love/forgiveness/gratitude, and spirituality. Typically, I meditate for around 20-30 minutes, but occasionally I do one minute or even hour long sessions. The duration depends on how I feel at that moment.
I intend to write more in-depth articles on meditation and its benefits. I am finally at a point in my life where I feel very comfortable and experienced on the subject. If you have any questions on how to meditate (or literally on anything!), please feel free to contact me and I will get the information you need.