Meditation is actually a very simple act, and an altered state which occurs spontaneously in areas of unbroken natural beauty, where the resonance of water and the patterns of natural design spark an innate wonder and awe within us. In our largely busy lives we can find this state more difficult to dip into spontaneously, but it is still very natural and can be brought back by simple breathing techniques, and awareness of the present moment.
Meditation is really the art of bringing ourselves back to this natural state, this stillness at the center of our being. We are not going anywhere new or unfamiliar, though it might seem that way at first. Here is a basic meditation guide template, which you can feel free to follow, or adapt to your own liking:
1. Find a suitable space
If you can be comfortable in your office, or by the river near your house, then great! A bedroom is an equally valid place to meditate, as is the garden, or any room in the house. All that is important is that you feel comfortable in this space; that you are able to relax your body and mind here. If you are unfamiliar with meditation you may wish to find a space where you will not be interrupted. All that matters is that you find a space that feels right for you.
2. Get physically comfortable
Once you have chosen your space, and have some time which you have dedicated to yourself, to this meditation, you will want to get comfy. It is all a matter of preference, but if possible try to adopt a position of alignment, that is, the body and spine should be in line. The lotus position is a classic position of alignment, although I think this image puts a lot of people off who are new to meditation. So, sit or lie down in whatever position you please, whatever is most comfortable. Find a position where your body is able to relax. If at any point you want to change position, or begin to feel uncomfortable, then feel free to move around; just be gentle and mindful about any movements you make throughout, and the meditation will remain unbroken.
3. Feel the body
I used to think meditation was some “away with the fairies” kind of activity. It isn’t. it is rooted in the body, and aims to be present and focused on the here and now. Part of the here and now is our physical presence in the body, and we should embrace this and become aware of it; every inch of it. So the most important part of any meditation that I will dispense, is to be aware of your body.
Start by gently tensing your big toe. Release the tension. Do this for every toe. Tense, and then release. Then tense all of your toes at once, and release. Then your ankle, release. Then the whole foot, and release. Move onto the other foot, and tense and release each toe once again. Enjoy the feeling of every part of your body as you become aware through tension, and release into relaxation. Move around the whole body slowly, feeling the body relax deeper every time. Sometimes we hold tensions that we are not even aware of so by working round the body in this way we can make sure every inch of it is relaxed.
We also make sure that we are well grounded, and that our experience will include our physical body.
4. Focus on breathing
A relaxed body is a relaxed mind, so when you feel you have become aware of the whole body, and are sufficiently relaxed into it, gently bring your awareness to your breathing. No need to change anything, just focus on your breath as it is right now.
Feel the in breath and then the roll into the out breath. Feel the air as it fills your lungs, and your heart as it beats in your chest. Feel the rise and fall of your chest, and enjoy the rhythm of each breath. Feel your breathing as one continuous motion.
So simple is the feeling, so powerful the sense of peace. Enjoy these moments as your breath gets deeper, and the rhythm more steady and natural.
By focusing on our breath we remain in our body, we realize how important and beautiful the most basic function of life is, and we take our mind far enough away from our incessant chatter that we can reach a state of peace. Our observations of our breath take over our being. We become the breath, and our mind slows to a state of peace. So beautiful it is just to breath.
4. Observe your thoughts
There is a misconception that the goal of meditation is to stop all thoughts. This is not true, or at least it doesn’t have to be this way. When we come to a state of stillness our thoughts tend to slow to a rhythmic pace, with long peaceful gaps between our thinking.
Do not wage war on your thoughts. Do not battle to stop them, or cry in regret for thinking them; just watch as thoughts drift gently through your mind. Do not hold onto them or delve into your memory of them. Become a detached observer, simply allowing thoughts to come and go gently as you bring your awareness back to your breath. In this time of peace, what a brilliant opportunity you have to make impartial observations; to get to know yourself better. The slowed down pace means we can become aware of them as strong clear communications, rather than the web of mess we find with an untrained mind. This awareness of thoughts is a useful aspect of a meditation.
The trick is to allow for thoughts, but to begin to observe the space between thoughts, the silence inbetween. Over time this silence becomes more dominant, and thoughts quieter, until the full resonance of a peaceful mind is realized. For now, allow for thoughts, and then take your awareness back to the breath.
5. Come back to your breath
If at any point you feel you have been distracted, and find yourself drifting away from the meditation, that is okay. We all drift. We all day dream, and it is the same in meditation. When your mind has wandered too far, simply come back to your breathing and start to be aware of the rise and fall, the air filling your lungs. Our breathing is always there to come back to. Relaxed, single-pointed focus is a way to quieten our mind, so the focus on breathing facilitates a simplistic state of peace. You could equally focus on an orange if that is what the moment calls for, and as you realize this you may wish to start experimenting, and become more dynamic in meditation.
6. Add your own twist (optional)
Focusing our awareness on our breathing is a great way to induce the meditative state, but not the only way. I often enjoy meditation in nature, by a stream for example. Focusing on the eternal flow of the river brings about an equal state of peace, as my usual thoughts are lost to the sounds and sensations of that moment. A modern method for meditation involves the use of binaural beats. You can use our binaural beats generator as a meditation tool.
When we direct our awareness single-pointedly in this fashion, whatever our chosen method may be, we can enter meditation. I will take some of the mysticism out of it now, with a little example I realized from my youth; fishing on still water. Fishing on still water involves staring at a single red point no bigger than a penny, known as the float. Sometimes fishermen maintain unbroken awareness of the float, a single point on a body of water, for 8 hours at a time; about as long as your average monk tends to meditate in a day.
So use your mind to work out just how natural and easy this can be for you. Be creative, and understand the role that nature can have in facilitating the meditative state. Do whatever feels right for you. All you need is something to focus on, something to quieten the mind.
7. Fill up with peace
When you reach the meditative state there is nothing to do. You will know what I mean when you get there. There is only being, and to be is all that can be imagined. We simply rest in stillness, bathe in peace. We are totally contented in this state; we know we don’t need anything else, and that we are happy here, resting at the center of our being, our true nature. Sit in peace. Recharge your batteries.
8. Come back to the body
When you feel the time is right, come back to your body. Open your eyes gently if they have been shut. Remain relaxed and in peace as you come back to the space you were in, slowly regaining awareness of everything around. Sit and allow this to happen naturally, do not force it, simply gather yourself, like you would in the morning.
9. Ground yourself
This meditation is very rooted in the body, so you should not feel too spaced out. Still, the powerful state of consciousness that you just entered may leave you a little dazed, and coming back to the room can be strange sometimes.
After meditation we should always ground ourselves, so that we can integrate what we have learnt into our life. Do some star jumps or a quick jog, take a stroll, or any exercise that you enjoy. You could eat a little healthy snack, or alternatively stick your nose in some soil or grass. The idea here is to re-spark your earthly senses, and your feeling of being in the body.
10. Thank yourself
If you have a deity for worship, or follow a particular religious or spiritual path, now is the time to thank your God, the forces that be, or your higher self. Sticking with the theme of a non-religious meditation, everyone can thank themselves just for allowing themselves the time. Giving yourself time just to be is powerful enough. In our busy lives sitting down for half an hour without distractions is beneficial enough. Say thanks to yourself and try to make a go of it regularly.
Summary- How To Meditate In 8 Easy Steps
- Give yourself time for yourself. Find a space that you can be comfortable in.
- Assume a relaxing position.
- Feel each part of the body, and relax it. Work around the whole body in this way.
- Focus gently on your breathing, feel each breath as the air circulates around your body.
- (Observe any thoughts which might arise during the process.)
- Sit in peace, returning each time to the breath. Enjoy this meditation, this inner stillness.
- Come back to the body, and open your eyes.
- Ground; come back to Earth.