Although I teach a strong physical practice, I think the hardest part of my class for some students is the first five minutes, when we sit quietly and do nothing, we simply breathe.
Students sit down, they can't get comfortable, they fidget, they shift, close their eyes, then open them, look around wondering what is going on. Some times they open one eye to take a peek, look at me, look around to see what everyone else is doing, close their eyes again and they fidget and shift again. In today's hectic world, finding stillness, becoming present can be a challenging process.
The word 'meditation' is derived from the Latin meditari (to think, dwell on, exercise the mind) and mederi (to heal). Its Sanskrit derivation medha, means wisdom. The practice involves finding a quiet place to sit and freeing the mind of scattered thoughts. Anyone can practice meditation. However, it is important to try and practice regularly and possibly at the same time of the day.
Sit upright, either on a chair or against a wall if that helps. If sitting on a floor, sit on a cushion to elevate the hips. It is important to keep the spine as straight as possible while remaining comfortable so that you can relax completely.
Close your eyes and mouth and breathe normally through your nose. Take a few moments to “simply be”. Notice whatever is being experienced in the moment — sounds, physical sensations, thoughts, feelings — without trying to do anything about it. Continue like this a little while, allowing yourself to settle.
Your goal is to turn your attention inward, towards inner stillness. You need a point to focus your attention. This focus will be your breathing. Become aware of your breathing with each inhale and exhale.
Notice the breath as it moves in and out as the body inhales and exhales. Notice how the breath moves in and out automatically, effortlessly. Don’t try to direct it in any way. Notice all the details of the experience of breathing — the feeling of the air moving in and out of the nose, the way the body moves as it breathes.
The mind will wander away from the breath — that’s fine, it doesn’t matter. That’s a part of the meditation! When you notice that you are no longer observing the breath, easily bring your attention back to it.
Let all of your experiences — thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations — come and go in the background of your awareness of the breath. Notice how all of your experiences — thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, — come automatically and effortlessly like the breath.
When you breathe out, just flow with the out breath. Let go and release. Each time you exhale and just before you inhale there is a natural gap. Rest in that gap, until you naturally inhale. At the end of the inhalation, find the natural pause, rest there. Allowing the inhalation and exhalation to naturally lengthen
Notice your breath. The breath is the pathway from the mind to the body. Breathing brings us into the present.
Try spending five minutes simply focusing on your breathing. If your mind wanders, gently draw it back to the action of your breath. This quiet time will help you free yourself to find insights that are lost in the chatter of everyday life and will bring a sense of peace to your mind and body.
There are lots of different ways to meditate. I hope to add some more techniques in later blogs, but my purpose here is to share what worked for me, when I started a meditation practice. My daily routine of sitting quietly, doing nothing and watching the breath come and go.