Meditation is medicine to experience peace, calm, and happiness amidst the craziness of our modern world. Yet, our fast-paced lifestyle may make meditation seem impossible. So I’m here to teach you meditation basics to make this practice fun, easy, and worth your while.
The benefits of meditation: 3 powerful reasons to spend time doing nothing
Let’s start with exploring why you would even meditate in the first place. It can seem counter-productive to sit in stillness and do nothing, especially if you are super busy! You can find all kinds of benefits of meditation around health and improving your ability to focus.
1. Connecting with your authentic self: Whether you are asking bigger questions like “who am I?” or faced with daily questions around work, home, and relationships, meditation helps you be more in tune with what matters most to you. This helps you be more clear to make better life decisions.
2. Connecting with your higher power: Meditation is a time to connect with your higher power and guides. It is said: prayer is to ask for what you desire and meditation is to receive the answers. In the stillness, you can hear your truth, see visions, or feel into whatever you need. Or, because you made time for stillness, answers to your questions may come during the course of your day.
3. Feeling more peace and less stress: In meditation, you bring attention to your breathing. This alone creates a sense of calm and relief. With more practice in meditation, you feel more and more calm and experience less random thoughts running through your mind. This practice of letting go of your thoughts allows you to be more present and aware in your life, which reduces stress and creates a greater sense of peace.
How to: 6 Steps to Meditate Right Now
My original training in meditation was at the Zen Buddhist Temple in Chicago. There, I learned a basic technique that includes counting as a method to focus your mind, which you will notice wanting to wander as you sit in stillness. It’s great for beginners and experienced meditators! Here is how you do it:
1. Sit on a pillow or meditation cushion with your back straight. 2. Place your hands in your lap facing up or in gyan mudra. 3. Close your eyes completely or close them 80%. 4. Take deep breaths; count down on each exhale from 5 to 0. 5. Set a timer for the amount of time you want to meditate. 6. Bonus: start with a positive vibe by thinking of something you are grateful for and feeling gratitude in your heart.
Making a regular practice of meditation
Are you totally psyched to do this all the time? Meditation is most beneficial when you do it regularly. So set yourself up to win by committing to mediate at the same time every day. Morning is ideal to start your day centered, feeling peaceful, and feeling connected to yourself.
Begin with a commitment you can stick to – for real! When I started, I committed to 5 minutes every morning before I left the house. And it worked to form my new habit. Even if it meant running late, I could surely create 5 minutes to meditate.
Setting up your space for meditation
As a regular meditator, it’s awesome to create a sacred meditation space for yourself. It might be as simple as a designating a favorite chair to your meditation practice, or as fancy as creating a meditation area furnished with a meditation pillow and altar. If you live with family or roommates and private space is hard to come by, don’t fret! That gives you a chance to be creative! When I first started, I sat in my closet in front of a single candle. For me, the dark removed all distractions. And that’s really key. Go somewhere that you can be free from interruptions.
Your meditation supplies & starter kit
You don’t need any supplies whatsoever to meditate. You can do it anywhere, anytime – even in a bathroom stall. And that is great news! However, for regulars, sacred supplies can enhance the experience. Here are a few you might consider.
Cushion: Meditation cushions raise your hips, which keeps your back straight and maximizes comfort overall. Before you invest in a cushion, you can start with basic pillows at home from your couch or bed.
Candle: Lighting a candle is great to signify to your brain that this is sacred time for you. A candle is also great for your practice if you would like to use the technique of gazing into the flame as a point of focus during your meditation.
Incense & holder: Incense creates sacredness in your practice and smells wonderful. Among many scents, a standard favorite is called Nag Champa. When you light your incense, you might wave the smoke over your body as an energy clearing technique before you begin your meditation.
Altar: An altar is a table upon which you set your sacred objects and sit in front of to meditate. You can fill up your altar with goodies like: candles, inspirational quotes, photos, statues of spiritual deities, sacred symbols, written goals, and healing crystals.