Meditation is the practice of creating peace with oneself and occurs when the mind is calm and silent. This practice dates back to around 1500 B.C. There are a few different ways to approach meditation, but the most common form for beginners is through mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a simple way to ease into growing your practice and can help open up your mind to other styles of meditation later on. There are many physical and mental benefits that come from practicing meditation on a consistent basis.
- Help relieve stress
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve sleeping habits
- Gain clarity and peace of mind
- Increase energy levels
Before you begin any type of meditation you will need to find a quiet place away from any distractions. Make sure to put away and turn off any technology that may interrupt your practice. When choosing your meditation spot you should find a place where you can relax and one that you can visit on a consistent basis. The more frequently you meditate in a repeated location the more comfortable and at ease you will be to take your meditation to a deeper level. Feel free to use a cushion or blanket to sit on while you meditate or simply take a seat on the ground.
After you pick a location, take a seat with legs loosely crossed and sit upright. Palms rest facing down on the tops of your thighs and eyes will shut as you begin to concentrate on your breath moving in and out through your nose. Tuck your chin in a little to create added length to the back of your neck and relax your jaw.
Once settled, place one palm over your heart and one over your belly. Feel your heart beating into one palm as your belly fills and empties in the other. Keep your hands here and engage your pranayama, Sanskrit for breathing, to calm the mind and prepare it for meditation. The most common form of pranayama is 4-4-4-4 breathing. This means you will fill up your lungs as you count to 4, pause at the top for 4 seconds, exhale for 4, and hold at the bottom of your breath for 4 seconds. Keep breathing like this for 10 rounds.
Release your hands back to your thighs, palms can face down again or palms can face up as you connect your index finger to your thumb creating your Jnana (juh–nah-nuh) Mudra. This mudra will clear the mind and improve concentration. Find stillness in your thoughts, bringing awareness to your breath and its natural movement, rising and falling in your chest. Bring attention to your third eye, the spot between your eyebrows, as you silence your mind. This may be difficult to do at first, but remember it’s okay if thoughts come and go throughout your meditation. Allow yourself to gently acknowledge those thoughts and then release them, just like waves rolling in and out on a beach. Welcome any miscellaneous thoughts with a light heart and let them be taken back out to sea.
Let your body ground itself to the Earth below you as you continue to find stillness for 5 more minutes. It’s okay if your practice ends up short or past the remaining 5 minutes. Once you find yourself slowly starting to bring yourself back to the present, bring your hands to your heart’s center so that your palms face one another. Give yourself permission to slip away from what your day has in store and allow yourself to enjoy a brief moment of peace. Slowly blink your eyes awake as you complete your meditation. Note that this is your practice and there are no rights or wrongs. Your practice will continue to develop the more you meditate. Consistency is key to meditation rather than how long the duration of meditation lasts.