A few years ago I attended a 10-day silent meditation retreat in TwentyNine Palms, CA – where I completely fell in love with the desert. It was a very intense, yet a rewarding experience, which I’ll write more about one day soon.
Sitting meditation is a practice that deals with concentrating on one point. This way, you have one main focus as you start to become aware of your thought processes, and patterns and habits that arise in the mind. Over time this gives you insight to find ways to change your suffering to peace.
There are many ways to meditate and quiet the mind, but I’m going to teach you how to work with the breath as your point of concentration. When you can sit for 30 minutes without moving or opening your eyes, we’ll work a little deeper.
Commit to 5-15 minutes: Set an alarm to go off in 5-15 minutes so that you don’t keep opening your eyes and checking the time. If you’re completely new to this, start with 5 minutes and work your way up. That 5 minutes will seem like an hour, but don’t give up!
Find A Good Sitting Position: Sit is a cross legged comfortable position. Create a space in your home to sit, but don’t let it be the bed. The bed will just make you tired. Sitting for a long period of time can cause some pain in the knees or hips, so it’s good sit on a pillow because that elevates the hips and relieves pressure in the lower back.
Keep Your Eyes Closed: Close your eyes, and let your eyes fall to the area between the eyebrow center.
Breathe Through The Nose: Take deep breaths in and out through the nose. As you clear your mind, begin to slow down and control your breath. Make sure the inhales and exhales are the same length. Start with a count of 5 seconds for the inhale, and 5 seconds for the exhale. Stick with this the first week. As time goes on, and the breath feels easy and steady, try to lengthen that to 7, then 10, all the way to 20. Keep the focus on the breath, if the mind wonders – bring it right back to the in-breath and the out-breath.
Be Aware Of Sensations With The Breath: Pay attention to what the breath feels like going in and out of your nose. Is it cold or warm? Maybe it feels cool going in and warm going out? Can you feel the breath hit upper lip as you exhale? Focus on the feel of the breath hitting the upper lip. If you can’t feel the breath hit the lip, keep trying. As you continue to practice, your awareness of sensation will soon become intensified.
Be Aware of The Breath When You Have Thoughts: Does your breath speed up when your mind gets away? When does your breath slow down, or become deeper? Just start to create some awareness of the feeling and patterns with your breath in relation to your mind.
Be Aware Of Sensations In The Body and Mind: While keeping your focus on the breath, you might start to feel some pain in the hips or knees. You might also feel anxiety or panic build up in the chest, or old memories and emotions might surface that you completely forgot about. The purpose of this is to start to notice awareness of the ebb and flow of sensations in the body and mind, so just try to observe what’s happening, and sit with it it with it until it becomes a passing memory.
Count Your Breath: If you’re having trouble sitting still or keeping your mind from wondering, start to count each breath (count one inhale and exhale together as one breath). This will create a one pointed concentration. Eventually, you’ll be able to sit without counting, but let’s not worry about that until later! If your mind wonders, that’s okay, and it’s normal. It’s just an observation, not good or bad, it just is. The goal is to catch yourself, and to always bring the focus back to the breath. If you lost count, no biggie, just bring it back to one.
In a society, where we are always trying to run away from our problems, it sounds funny to say that It’s a good thing if this brings out anxiety. It’s happening because you’ve probably never taken the time sit with your thoughts, and it’s also happening simply because you are human. Things start to come up that you might have never taken the time to deal with in the past. Sit with those emotions and just keep breathing because eventually you’ll see it goes away. Then it comes back. Then it goes away. That’s life!
Meditation teaches us how to change our reaction and find peace in difficult situations. It also teaches us how these situations create growth and strength within. The purpose is to learn to be at peace with discomfort and uncertainty. Things will become a little more tolerable, and you’ll worry and stress a lot less! Great news, right!!
So, don’t give up! It’s only 15 minutes of your life, and you’re doing great.
Stay tuned & we’ll talk about how to take meditation to the next level.
Let me know how this worked out for you? Do you meditate already? I’d love to hear your meditation tips in the comments below!