Meditation is a very simple practice that people overcomplicate. If you are one of those who have tried and failed in every attempt, don't worry, keep on reading!
Meditation is a practice many struggle to incorporate into their daily life. Mainly this happens because we overcomplicate and overthink it. We tend to believe that we havr to sit up straight, to have our mind completely blank and if none of this happens, we give up. But meditation doesn't have to be this difficult.
Let's begin with two common struggles of this beneficial practice: how to sit and what to do.
How to sit:
The biggest thing to remember is to try to keep your back straight. Many schools of meditation preach that your back should be completely straight but if it's too difficult to hold, try sitting on a chair or just up against a wall and work slowly towards keeping your back straight without extra support. Don't be too tough on yourself. If you feel like sitting on a chair is easier for your practice, do that.
Your eyes can be either closed or open. Again, the goal of this whole “meditation” thing is to work out your attention muscle. If you find you can concentrate better on your breath with your eyes closed, as many people do, then it’s probably best to keep them closed.
Don’t worry about your hands. Some people like to form circles with their thumb and another finger, but that doesn’t really matter. Place your hands the way you feel most comfortable.
Place your legs however you want. Your legs should feel comfortable as well. You don't need to sit in a lotus position. Just sit the way you feel you'll be comfortable enough for a few minutes.
What to do:
As you move your focus around, you point it at everything you give attention to in your life, from your smartphone to a conversation you’re having. And a lot of the time, you direct it at more than one thing at a time. Our mind is a multi-tasker after all.
Meditation takes that “spotlight” that is your attention and it points it directly at your breath. So that’s all well and good, but what do you do, exactly? Five things:
1. Get comfortable
2. Start your timer
3. Bring your attention/focus to your breath: you can focus on any element of your breath that you want – from how the air feels as it enters and exits your nose, to how the air feels as you inflate and deflate your lungs, to the sensation under your nose as you breathe in and out, to the sound you make as you breathe.
4. Let your thoughts go. Not thinking is not an option, but try to acknowledge your thoughts and just let them go, like watching a cloud float away.
5. Bring your attention back to your mind when it wanders: And it will. When your mind wanders, and it will gently bring your attention back to your breath once you realize that your mind has wandered.
5 tips to start practicing meditation for beginners
1. Be patient
Training our minds can take a lifetime. Our head never rests and always throws up new thoughts. The point is what we do with it. By meditating we learn to observe "without reacting" to what we think. This would be the first agreement of the Toltecs (one of the native peoples of Mexico): "not take anything personally." As I do not assign power or judgment to what I see, I do not suffer. I must apply this principle also in my personal relationships and what happens around me. So, if I sit down to meditate and my mind slips into some thought, I don't judge myself and go back to my starting point: breathing.
2. Generate routine
Be honest when choosing a fixed time to meditate. For example, if I feel fresh early in the morning, I don't wait until the evening to do so because I will fall asleep. And vice versa: if I perform more at night, you have to take advantage of that moment. The important thing is to be able to create the habit of sitting down and looking inward and seeing how we are doing. For that, it takes will, determination and at the beginning, always do it at the same time, and in the same place.
3. Create the space
The place that shelters us in our meditation must be clean and orderly. It's hard to concentrate when we have a chair full of clothes from three days ago, shoes scattered everywhere, and dishes from last night unwashed. Order in the matter is order within us. It helps a lot to use dim lights and some aromatic essence such as myrrh, incense, sandalwood, or patchouli. It is also advisable to put on some relaxing music or a mantra and sit on a comfortable cushion.
4. Choose a place with good ventilation
Remember that when we exhale we are removing internal waste from the body.
Begin by bringing your attention to your body posture. The spine rises skyward from the sitting bones that rest on the ground.
5. Observe the parts of your body that are in tension and those that are relaxed
And focus your attention on your breathing: if it is slow and slow or agitated and shallow. During concentration, thoughts will continue to appear, but we will not pay attention to them. Based on persistence, over time they will disappear and we will be able to keep our minds blank during meditation.