Recently, I had a conversation with someone who asked me what is the correct way to meditate. They had grown an interest in becoming more in-tune with their inner self given a health setback, and as a way to also slow things down to truly appreciate what they had in their life.
I was really intrigued by their question and interest, and it made me reflect on how sometimes we can trap ourselves into thinking that things are supposed to be one way, or there is a right or wrong way of doing things.
Their perspective on meditation was that it only had to be done in a quiet room for a long time and that your breathing and posture had to be perfect. Otherwise, it was a major fail if you got it wrong.
In sharing with this person my perspective that yes there is a quote unquote way to meditate based on imagery we see or what we might hear from others as the “right way”, meditation is first and foremost a personal experience that can be practiced in a variety of ways in order to help a person become present, centered, and mindful in that exact moment in their day, which in turn can bring lasting benefits within their life.
Sometimes, people don’t have an opportunity to sit in a quiet room at any time of the day or it might not simply click with them. As I started sharing more about what I know of meditation from my training and own practice, I could see them become more relaxed. They then said, “So, Veronica, I guess I already do meditate.”
Whether you’re curious about starting or creating a more consistent meditation practice, below are some basic tips that you can consider. Finding time to chill, connect with your breath, and invite good vibes is so important regardless of whether your day is calm or crazy busy. Meditation can be a wonderful tool to help lower stress and anxiety, and increase mindfulness and positivity in your life.
A few basic tips for you to consider.
- Find a tall spine whether it’s sitting cross-legged or even standing or sitting in a chair if that’s more comfortable for you. Sitting on a pillow, blanket or even having your back rest up against a wall are options to promote further relaxation on your hips, knees and back if you’re experiencing any discomfort or strain. Before exploring these suggested meditative seats, please consult with your doctor if you have any physical limitations or have had a recent surgery.
- Placement of your hands can be lightly on your knees – palms facing down if you would like to find more grounding or palms facing up if you are in a state of receiving. Hands can be on your lap or in prayer mode (palms and fingers pressed against one another) near your heart as well. There are many options to consider, but again just the basic tips right now :).
- Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath, heart, or have a light internal gaze at your third eye which is the point between your eyebrows to allow exploration into your intuition. By a light internal gaze, I mean doing so with relaxed eyelids and eyebrows rather than creating tension in your forehead.
- Allow your breath to flow naturally or consciously activate an Ujjayi breath of inhaling and exhaling through your nose.
Meditation doesn’t only have to be in a quiet room!
- In nature. For example, sitting on the beach listening to the waves, sitting on a rock and feeling the breeze while you take a quick rest from your hike, or even after a run to close your eyes and catch your breath while you stand still in a safe place. Perhaps even finding a bench outside of your workplace to sit and invite some calmness and mindfulness during your day.
- Play a relaxing jam. Have a song play in the background or use headphones if that will help you relax more. There are instrumental, nature sounds and positive affirmation tracks available online. Play whatever resonates with you in that moment. And, maybe each day during the week you might want to listen to another tune.
- Light a candle in a safe place away from any hazardous materials. Instead of closing your eyes, focus your attention on the candle. Everything from the color, texture and movement of the flame. You can also practice this form of meditation by watching the sunset while still being conscious of your breath and being present in the moment.
- Meditation is a way to help disconnect from disruptive external noise and any busy thoughts running wild in your mind. Therefore, turn off or silent any devices that can distract or interrupt your meditation. However, setting a timer on your cell phone is a good idea, if needed, to keep you on track.
- Get the wiggles out before you begin your meditation and throughout if needed. Yes, the ideal goal is to meditate without making too many physical adjustments or movements, and to work on your breath becoming longer and steadier with every inhale and exhale. However, don’t get down on yourself if you’re having a tough time relaxing your mind and body. Be kind to yourself without any judgment as it will make it easier on you and more enjoyable to meditate. I meditate regularly and some days might be tough. Not because I’m not actively trying to ground myself, but because I’m human and there might be experiences and emotions that I’m trying to make sense of in my day-to-day life that might come up. We need to remind ourselves that we’re not perfect and meditation isn’t about perfection either. So, roll your shoulders, hips or take a deep inhale and exhale out your mouth to let any wiggles out!
- How can I stop external noise and unnecessary thoughts from disrupting my meditation? If anything is trying to creep in to disturb your meditation, try focusing your attention back on your breath. Examine the texture and length of your breath while also allowing your shoulders to naturally rise and fall with every inhale and exhale. By focusing your attention on something that is positive, such as your breath, the thoughts will slowly dissolve over time.
- Are those thoughts still creeping in? Invite a mantra or affirmation to repeat silently in your head and/or even silently repeat 3-5 things that you are grateful for in your life. This can be done regardless of whether thoughts are persistent or not. A mantra or affirmation could be for example, “I invite peace into my life right now.” Or, “I am a happy person and wish happiness for my family and friends.” There are mantras and affirmations available online, or you can also create one that is personal and feels right to you in that moment.
- Not in the mood? Don’t force yourself to meditate if it’s not coming from a genuine place. Otherwise, you could possibly resent the experience. Instead, try meditating at another time during the day, if not after a while from waking up or before going to bed.
- How long should I meditate for and how often should I meditate? There’s no time limit, so invite what’s good for you in your schedule and what you’re also longing for. So, it can even be 1-minute, 5-minutes, or over 15-minutes, and the time can change from day-to-day too. Ideally, it’s good practice to incorporate meditation every day if you can regardless of the length. However, do what’s right for you and in time, you will be able to see the benefits that are being created in your life from a consistent practice.
- Getting bored of meditating the same way? Explore some of the other options I listed above to add variety from day-to-day. Also, don’t expect every day to be the same. We’re human and we experience new situations regularly. So, we can at least apply this same perspective with meditation.
- Lastly, have fun and meditate on!