Restoring Inner Harmony
In a world filled with continuous visual and audio distractions, mediation provides a time to turn our attention inwards, quieting our minds as we focus ourselves. By sitting the body still and in silence we can renew our mind, body and spirit. A regular mediation practise has helped me maintain my inner peace when life gets overwhelming.
You don’t need to belong to any religion to start meditating. The benefits of meditation have been know for thousands of years and are now becoming accepted as a legitimate means to wellness in western medicine. By relaxing the body and calming the mind we can increase focus, lower blood pressure and reduce stress.
My favourite time to meditate is first thing in the morning. Not only is it a great way to get centred for the day ahead but you are also more likely to commit to a new habit if you start early in the day before obstacles surface that keep you from your practise. But meditation before bedtime can also be helpful in easing you into a relaxed mode to prepare for sleep.
There are many ways to approach meditation but they all require the same basic skills to start.
First, find a quiet place in your home with minimum disturbances. I have set up a meditation corner in my bedroom. To ensure 20 minutes of uninterrupted time I put a sign on my door that reads, “mediation in progress”. My kids have learned that they are only to disturb me if there is an emergency. (My daughter has come to learn a fashion crisis is not a valid reason to disturb my meditation!) As you develop your practise you will be able to meditate anywhere. I’ve meditated in a park, on a city bench, at an airport, and on a ferry.
Meditation does not require any equipment. You can use a fancy meditation pillow but its really not necessary. While a pillow or mat can make the floor more comfortable, putting your back up against a wall also works.
Next find a comfortable position. You will want to keep your shoulders relaxed and back straight to ensure your breath circulates deep into your belly. If you prefer not to sit in the traditional cross-legged manner because your back or knees are sore or injured, try sitting in a chair or you can lie down if you choose. Just be careful not to get too comfortable as you may fall asleep.
Not sure what to do with your hands? I like to cup my hands, one on top of the other and place them in my lap. You can also put them on your knees or leave them at your side.
Next close your eyes and turn your attention inwards to your breath. By focusing on your breath your mind will settle. Take a few deep cleansing breathes and feel yourself start to relax.
Some people recite a phrase, or word that helps them move away from their thoughts. When I first started my practise I would repeat, “breathing in, breathing out” to help keep my mind focused. All is well, is another mantra I use to I focus my mind as I meditatie.
Don’t beat yourself up that your mind isn’t completely still. It won’t be. When your mind starts to drift just be aware of the thought and then let it go. The meditation is in returning to the breath each and every time your mind wanders. That is the practise.
It doesn’t matter how long you meditate. What matters is that you put your butt down and start! Try sitting for one minute then adding time each day until you are up to 20-30 minutes. This will build meditative strength and everyone has time to do a one minute meditation!
It also helps to have an alarm or even a kitchen timer to count you down so you aren’t breaking your meditation to peek at the watch to see when your time is up.
Mediation is simple, easy to learn and can be done anywhere at any time. There are so many benefits to turning your attention inwards and quieting your mind that you need to ask yourself why you are not meditating today.