How to Meditate
I frequently get asked by clients how to meditate, and if they are “doing it wrong” or “bad at it?” It makes me laugh to contemplate how even our thinking doubts it’s ability to not think. We have managed to turn a stress and anxiety reduction tool into yet another way to increase our stress and anxiety.
When it comes to meditation there is no “right” way. There are various more specific techniques with their own names, methods, followers and classes. There are guided techniques. There is an intuitive approach where you let it unfold in the moment. And there is the classic (and most difficult) way of emptying the mind to nothingness. The most important part of meditation is not what you do, but finding what resonates with you, because that means you will actually want to do it and do it.
Those of us with extremely busy minds may find that techniques in which you have a focus are easier than just sitting and trying to empty your mind. This focus can be a mantra you repeat, a word, an affirmation, music, a visual symbol, your internal state, or an entire guided imagery.
But if we are speaking in a more general sense about meditation, I would say you are meditating any time you are being mindful. Mindful meaning present, focused, conscious and aware. I feel during my therapy sessions that I am in a living form of meditation because I go into a certain trance- like state where I am present, focused on my client, receptive, intuitive, grounded and still.
Every time you wash your hands can be a meditation practice, if you are able to let all else fade away and focus on the water running over your hands, the temperature, the way the soap smells etc. Eating is another time we could all benefit from trying to be more mindful. Eating without speaking, watching TV, or looking at our phones or computers is rare, but simply focusing on our food has been proven to help it taste better, help us eat less, and improve our digestion of the food.
So as you can see, meditation is whatever you make it. Really anything you feel helps relax you, calm your mind, and become more receptive to all that is would be your form of meditation. However, if you are reading this looking for some clear guidance, below is a simple technique to start with for five minutes at a time a couple times per week. Do not pressure yourself to do it for longer, or too frequently; this is not supposed to become a chore. If you are enjoying it, you can always build up to doing it for longer periods of time, or add it into your daily routine after you get comfortable with it (i.e. when you aren’t questioning if you are doing it “wrong”).
And remember, if you take away one thing from this blog, please let it be me telling you that there is no wrong in meditation. Even if your mind races (which it will), even if you get distracted (which you will), even if you quit before the time is up, it is all ok. You are learning what works for you and what doesn’t, and it is a muscle you will build over time when you find what you enjoy and become consistent with it.
Sit or lay (as long as you don’t think you will fall asleep) in a comfortable quiet place.
2. Close your eyes and take several long, slow, deep breaths. Exaggerate your breaths as
much as you can and hold in for a count of three and hold out for a count of three on
each one. Start by focusing on these breaths; notice everything about them that you
can. How do they feel? Is the air coming in through your nose cool or warm? Does your
body feel any different after a couple off these deep breaths?
3. You can keep focusing on your breath in this way for the rest of the meditation if you
choose. If you want to move on to something else then your only task is to Notice and
Note. This means observing all that you can with all of your senses, without judgment,
labeling what you’ve noticed and then moving on. In your head this may look like: “The
air is warm. Birds are chirping. Dinner cooking smells good. Body feels stiff”
4. If you notice your mind is swooping in with other thoughts or ideas interrupting you,
you can notice and note that too as soon as you catch it! For example: “Mind is racing.
Stressful thought about work. Fearful thought about money.”
5. The key is that you just keep moving through it, and stay as present in the moment as
Once you start practicing this more regularly, you may want to rate your stress/worry etc. on a 1-10 scale pre and post meditation to see what your results are.
If you would like help with stress reduction, meditation, or would like to see me for guided imagery sessions, please email me at Alyssa@AlyssaRand.com.