How do you meditate?
How do you meditate? I always get asked this question! I mean, it’s simple right? Clear your mind and observe your thoughts as they come. Sounds easy, but why is it soooo difficult? Why do we hang onto our thoughts and give them more weight than necessary?
We are taught pretty much from birth that we must be doing something, thinking about something or at least be occupied in some way. At least that is my experience from my childhood and more directly… my mother! From this point of view it seems completely reasonable that I find it hard to just stop and observe my minds activity. Does this resonate with you? If so, read on….
Let’s try and break it down into steps to try and make it easy!
Set a time limit
This is really important because your perception of time is a about to get weird! Time will slow down a ridiculous amount, remember detention…? Ok, so you were good at school, then maybe how long you had left after you aced your chemistry exam in 30 minutes?
Set an alarm, 15 minutes is fine to start with then try to gradually work up to an hour…. AN HOUR I hear you say? Zen quote time –
‘If you don’t have time to meditate for an hour everyday, you should meditate for two hours.”
Get comfortable, but not too comfortable!
There is no right or wrong position to meditate in, you can sit, lie, walk or even eat. Everyone has a form of meditation most suited to them.
The most common position is to sit cross-legged, in half or full lotus with a straight back, rooted to the ground and reaching to the heavens. This helps to avoid the problem of falling asleep! Hands can be placed on your lap, clasped or on each knee with thumb and middle finger touching and palm to the sky. I actually like mine palm down with my wrists on either knee, as long as it’s comfortable then you do you! It’s also important to have a soft cushion, quiet surroundings and low light.
Pick something to focus on
There are a few options when it comes to a focal point, here are a few in no particular order –
- Recite Mantras
- Count Mala Beads on your MalasByFlora mala – hehe
- Bodily sensations (a body scan)
- A word (something desirable is preferable!)
- The sounds you can hear
- An object in the room
- The present moment
- A white light
I personally begin with my breath, then once my mind has quietened I begin to scan my body from the top of my head down to the tips of my toes. I learned this technique on a silent ten day Vipassana retreat which I believe everyone should at least try and do! They are hosted all over the world and are donation based, hit the link for more info!
Next, simply observe…
Note the sensations in each area without holding on to them or giving them any weight, then go back to your focal point.
Every mental reaction or thought, manifests itself in the body, so as we feel sensations in the body and as thoughts arise in our mind, let them go – this is the work…. observe them and let them go.
I like to think of this quote from Shunryu Suzuki when I start to give my thoughts too much attention –
“In zazen zen meditation), leave your front door and your back door open. Let thoughts come and go. Just don’t serve them tea.”
You will begin to feel many sensations while meditating, don’t search for them, they will come. Most commonly in the form of an ache, pins and needles or an annoying tickle. Whatever the sensation, you will begin to notice that as long as you do not dwell on it and give it weight it will pass because…. quote time –
“And this, too, shall pass.”
And…. that’s pretty much it, you are on your way to enlightenment!
What’s your favourite way of meditating? I would love to hear from you in the comments section!