The first time I tried to meditate…I had no idea what to do. As I sat on the floor in my bedroom, I couldn't figure out what to do about all the thoughts racing through my mind. I couldn’t sit cross-legged because it hurt my hips. I didn’t know what, if anything, to focus on. I sat there for a few minutes and, unsurprisingly, didn’t feel any benefit from it.
After that experience, I was determined to try meditation again, so I actually looked up how to meditate. I want to share what I have learned and how I practice meditation.
It’s really pretty simple. Meditation can be done anywhere. In fact, let’s try some right now. Stop reading, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Focus on breathing in and out slowly. Continue this practice for one to five minutes. It's okay to let thoughts and ideas in your mind come and go. Bring yourself back to focusing on your breath each time you notice your mind wandering, breathing in and out. Be still and breathe. Absorb the sounds around you and the way your body feels against the seat in which you sit. Keep breathing until you feel relaxed.
I think many times we think that we have to be in this Zen-like state to meditate. We think we have to be in our yoga clothes, at a yoga studio, or in a picturesque natural environment. But really, at any point during your day you can stop, pause, close your eyes, and focus on your breath for a few minutes.
You can even take a break and mentally transport yourself to one of your favorite places. For example, maybe your favorite place to meditate is in nature. Close your eyes and picture yourself in this cherished spot. You may be sitting on a rock in the middle of a forest along the bank of a creek, or you may be sitting on a sandy beach feeling the sea breeze against your skin and hearing the waves crash along the shore. Revel in what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. Take a few minutes here. Then, inhale a very deep breath and exhale it out, pushing away all of the stress and worry from the day.
When I am sitting on the beach (literally this time), I spend a few minutes and take it all in. The picturesque blue-green of the ocean, the sound of waves crashing on the shore, the smell of the salty water, the feel of the breeze on my skin. I make a mental note to store that beautiful, serene spot in my brain. I also remember how relaxed I felt in that place. Having those mental notes allows me to tap back into that relaxation wherever I am.
Experiencing stillness is one of the most important elements of meditation. It allows your mind to calm. When I am in a state of frustration, I will stop, pause, and close my eyes. I will take a few deep breaths and bring something joyful to mind. It might be reflecting on last week’s date night with my husband. It might be anticipating an upcoming vacation with loved ones. It might be a visit to the serene spot I cherish.
I have a feeling that while you’re pausing and practicing these techniques a smile is going to come across your face. You're going to start to feel the muscles in your neck and back relax as your breathing begins to deepen. Exhale out the worries and blow them away. Take good care of you.
What I have learned: Meditation can happen anywhere. Make an effort to be still each day.
Tania Farran is an educator, mom, business owner, and an author. Her blogs tell about balancing all of these things in life! Laugh or cry with her and maybe learn a thing or two.