Life is stressful – no doubt about it. From listening to morning news to frantically planning for the next day as soon as you get home from work, it’s easy to let stress engulf you. But as the holidays approach – and even more stress accumulates – remember to share some peace with yourself (as well as peace on earth) with these meditation techniques for beginners. After covering alternative meditation techniques in a recent post, we have created this quick guide to get you confidently meditating and seeking daily solace.
Sit Comfortably – One thing that puts beginners off meditation is thinking they need to sit a certain way or follow a certain ritual. Honestly, meditation is all about just following your breath and not attaching yourself to your thoughts. How you sit is not nearly as important as how you practice watching the breath. Full lotus, cross-legged, kneeling on a zafu, or sitting in a comfortable chair: whatever makes you comfortable is the position you should choose.
Pick a Place and Time – Although a formal ritual is not needed, meditation works best if you choose a regular place and time designated for this special time in your day. Make it part of your morning routine. For example, after you wake and brush your teeth, meditate for five or ten minutes. Wake up, brush teeth, meditate. It becomes as natural as, well, breathing. Maybe you always sit in your studio or outside on your patio after enjoying a cup of tea. Make this time sacred to keep you craving this quietude every day.
Starting Out – When you first begin to meditate, try sitting for just five or ten minutes. You can increase the time as you get more comfortable.
As you begin, only focus on your breath, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. It helps to either keep a soft focus with your eyes open and slightly downcast (typical of Soto Zen meditation) or to close your eyes while focusing on the sensations of your body. As you breathe in, pay attention to how the breath feels and where the air expands. Let out the air slowly, noticing where your body softens and relaxes on the exhale. Sometimes counting the breath helps to keep focused on the sensations of breathing and being.
Allow Thoughts without Chasing Them – Inevitably, thoughts will pop up and try to derail your attempts to stay in the moment. The best thing you can do is to not attach emotion or judgement to your thoughts or try to hold onto them. To stay present, it helps to think of each thought as a cloud passing over you as you gaze up at an otherwise clear, blue sky. As each cloud or thought passes, you simply acknowledge its presence but don’t need to follow it.
Meditation could change your life. Just as in yoga, following your breath and practicing mindfulness leads to a more relaxed body and mind, allowing you stay positive and ready to handle life’s stressors. For more information on meditation techniques for beginners and yoga classes, visit our website today.