How to do meditation. So simple, yet not soooo not easy! Whole books have been written on the topic, but when it comes down to it, if you want to get started mediating, and not just read about it, this post is for you.
It’s really easy to get started with meditation. Eventually, you might want to build on the repertoire here, but for now, there’s no need to sit in the lotus position, or chant strange and exotic words.
Many people make meditation more difficult than it needs to be. Basically, you just need to sit with yourself and be aware. Easy peasy.
How to do Meditation
1. Find a good time
Anytime is a good time to meditate, but most people have a favorite time – a time when they are most alert and have the time to sit and practice.
Some prefer to do it early in the morning, when they are fresh and know they won’t fall asleep. Others prefer during midday or before bed.
The best time to do meditation is the time that’s right for YOU.
Start with a time when you won’t be interrupted. You may need to “train” your family that your meditation time is “no-interruption” time. Or as I like to say to my family, Namasta-not-right-now!
Tip: When first learning how to do meditation, you might want to meditate for a shorter amount of time, but do it more than once daily.
2. Find the right amount of time for you
When people are first practicing how to do meditation they often ask, “How long should I meditate?”
There’s no set amount of time that is better. It’s all up to you. How awesome is that?
Seriously, if you want to start with 5 minutes twice a day, that’s perfect. Then you can gradually move up to 10 minutes and so on, if you choose.
Most people find meditation so relaxing and rewarding that they want to spend more time in meditation.
But don’t set yourself up for discomfort and disillusionment by starting at 20 minutes. It’s better to start slowly and build up than to start off with grand ideas, but not stick with it.
3. Find a good place
The only real requirement for this aspect of how to do meditation is that you should be comfortable, yet not so comfortable that you feel sleepy.
It should also be an area that is quiet during the time that you will be there, so you can focus your mind and not be disturbed.
But you can sit on the floor or in a chair anywhere.
I know people who meditate in their office or car during their lunch hour because that is the best time for them to find some peace and quiet. Just close the door, sit down and go!
4. Sit comfortably
Sit comfortably…but not too comfortably. If you find yourself slouching in your favorite chair, you may find it hard to focus – or fall asleep.
Most people who teach how to do meditation recommend sitting with your spine straight, head up–like there is a string attached to the top of your head pulling slightly upwards, with your shoulders back, but relaxed. (I also find it really helpful to slightly part my lips, which I know sounds kinda weird, but it works well for me.)
Yep. Just breathe. Don’t try to control the breath right now. Just breathe however feels right in the moment. (Have you noticed a pattern with how to do meditation? Basically, you just can’t do it “wrong.”)
Sometimes you will start out breathing more quickly, but notice that it slows as you relax and focus your mind.
Now, be mindful of your breathing. Focus on it. Breath in, breath out.
Feel how your abdominal muscles expand as you breath in, and deflate when you breath out.
Or you can focus on the sensation of the breath coming in and out through your nostrils. Whatever feels most comfortable is fine.
6. Notice thoughts and feelings
Truth: Your mind will wander. That’s what minds do.
I need to write a note to Jenn’s biology teacher. What am I going to make for dinner? I’m really sick of cooking. Did I mail the car payment? Darn it! I’m supposed to be meditating here! OK, relax. I’ll think about that later. Breathe…
There’s actually no way to totally stop thinking. So let go of that idea.
Trying to force yourself to stop thinking will only make you think more. Really!
Right now, just notice what thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations come up while sitting. There’s no need to try to change them.
Just notice them, like a cloud floating by, and gently bring your mind back to the breath each time you notice your mind has started thinking about something other than the breath.
Sometimes, it helps to have something besides breathing to help focus the mind.
This is why many people use mantras (a word or phrase repeated to help concentration during meditation) or a mala (prayer beads) during meditation.
One simple way to focus the mind if you are having trouble is to use these simple phrases that Thich Nhat Hanh, the well-known Vietnamese Buddhist monk and global spiritual leader, recommends:
Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.
8. Play, have fun, experiment with other types of meditation, too!
Many people enjoy using guided mediations or binaural beats meditation, especially when they are first starting.
These are both fab ways to get your mind used to focusing for a period of time. There are lots of free meditations online that you can use. Try different ones and see what you like best. You may even choose to continue to use these long after you are a “beginner.”
See, I told you that learning how to do meditation was easy peasy :)
It just takes some getting used to. And don’t worry if you think you’ve got it mastered and your mind wanders – it happens to us all!
Just know that there’s no way you can do it wrong. One of the benefits of meditation is that perfection just naturally becomes less important. Letting go (for me, anyway) is kinda the point.
So allow that to happen and enjoy spending time in the quiet with yourself. Rest in the fact that there is nothing to do and no way to mess up learning how to do meditation.