How do you meditate?
I asked that question for the first time over fifteen years ago. A young teenager, I got my answer from an older friend in the form of a link to a blog post with a simple guide for a certain brand of meditation.
My spiritual journey was just beginning, and I followed the steps enthusiastically, meditating day after day. It quickly became an unbreakable ritual which I performed as naturally as sleeping. Actually, more naturally — at the time I suffered from horrible insomnia, which was one of my reasons for seeking introspection and inner peace.
When I first started it would take me as long as twenty to thirty minutes to lull myself into a beneficial meditative state. Now I feel I can achieve the same positive vibrations in less than five minutes. But the simple, distinctive truth about mediation – the fact I couldn’t share with any of my skeptical friends – was that it worked. It always has, and it likely always will. What I couldn’t of known back then was how important this skill would become later on in life.
Since suffering a traumatic brain injury, I’ve struggled with a variety of health problems both physical and mental, chief among them a nasty case of anxiety. Finding the time to meditate on a daily basis really helps me keep my thoughts in order. It’s not a magic bullet, but it certainly makes managing my bevy of symptoms more realistic.
This blog post actually turned out to be a perfect example. I ran into a bit of a what many people refer to as writer’s block just now. Rather than beat myself up over it, I took a quick break to meditate and then got back to the keyboard. Suddenly I had something to write about, and the words flowed free as rushing rapids.
Meditation can help you to realize simple truths present in the teachings of mindfulness.
For example, before I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing for five minutes, my brain was buzzing with worries and concerns. I was thinking about getting this post done, the fact I haven’t posted anything in awhile, and wondering whether my years of practical experience is enough to make me an authority on the matter. In other words I was procrastinating and suffering from impostor syndrome. Taking a short time aside to relax and reflect allowed me to refocus on my reason for writing the post in the first place – to help people.
So without further ado, just in case you came to this post looking for a quick guide on how to meditate… I’m going to give that to you.
The truth is, there are many methods of meditation and none of them is more “right” than any of the others. However, some are more efficient and easier to get into than others. The method I’m going to describe is probably one of the most accessible, but it still requires that you keep an open mind.
Sit somewhere comfortable, preferably where you can be alone and quiet. I usually choose to sit on a cushion on the floor, cross-legged with my back straight and my hands resting palms-up on my knees.
Why do I sit in this stereotypical meditation pose? Two reasons; it promotes good posture, and it immediately communicates to anyone who might interrupt me that I am in fact meditating.
Once you are sitting comfortably in the quiet, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Inhale through your nose. Exhale through your mouth. The more you focus on and deepen your breath, the slower your heart rate will become and the more relaxed you may feel.
There really aren’t any more steps than that. The goal is to think about nothing, and instead to simply experience the act of breathing and being. Often times, sitting alone like this is the best way to realize the obstacles in our paths, and discover ways of moving past them.
Do you know anyone who could use a little meditation in their life?
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