Originally published on Kate’s blog
We all know what we think meditation is: sitting quietly, eyes closed, a Zen-like person sitting cross-legged and peaceful, chanting, etc. But when it comes to doing it, it’s easy to feel lost and unsure.
The Merriam Webster dictionary definition of mediation is: “The act or process of spending time in quiet thought.” My definition would be: a practice of cultivating relaxation, stillness, and focus. Putting aside time every day to do this, even for just 5 minutes, counts as a meditation practice to me.
How to meditate
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to meditate, but there are some simple guidelines that can help you create a meditation practice that suits you.
Find yourself some space where you can be alone and undisturbed. Enlist the help of your family to allow you this time for yourself. If you think you can’t get this, even for 10 minutes per day, something needs to change there! Your health and self-care are important! Make them a priority.
Try to find a quiet place, but also accept the fact that it will sometimes be impossible to have a perfect environment for meditation. Meditation is about learning to quiet your mind and focus DESPITE all that is going on around you. If you like total silence, great! If you prefer, try using gentle music, nature sounds, or white noise during meditation. You can also use guided meditations if you find that helpful.
A major part of meditation is learning to slow down, deepen, and enrich your breathing. There are many breathing techniques you can try, but a good place to start is with learning to breathe slower, deeper, and more consciously. In fact, you can meditate simply by spending some time each day breathing deeply. Aim for at least 10 deep breaths each time you focus on breathing and repeat this to reach at least 100 deep breaths per day.
A mantra is a sound or phrase repeated out loud or silently while meditating. When people start meditating, having a mantra can lend a structure to their practice, along with using specific breathing exercises. You don’t have to use a mantra, but I find it can help give your mind something to focus on and come back to if you get distracted. Some good mantras: “I am rested and well”, “I am secure and loved”, “I release suffering and accept peace”
A mudra is a physical posture and hand/finger positions. Again, you don’t have to use a mudra, but if you are fidgety, it can help give you something to do with your body/hands to help keep your focus. Some simple mudras: Resting your hands palms upwards on your knees, prayer position, touching your thumb and index finger.