The Practice of Meditation
Create your own space, experience your own peace, and be healthy for your own self.
Intention and Resolve
A meditation practice requires commitment and dedication. Begin with setting aside just five minutes in the morning or evening for your daily practice.
Over a period of time you can gradually add a few minutes a week to your sessions, building up to 20 or 30 minutes.
Set up Your Space
Although you can meditate anywhere, it will be easier to start practicing in a quiet, peaceful environment. Straighten up the room, tone down the lights and turn off all distractions, including your mobile phone. Let your family know that you are taking a few minutes of quiet time.
You will need a comfortable, yet upright chair.
Set a timer so thar you will not be distracted by the clock.
If sitting in complete silence is difficult for you, play some soft, background, instrumental music. Lighting a candle or some incense is optional, but it can help set the mood for some people.
Settle Into Position
Sit down with your back straight and feet on the floor. Gently rest your hands, palms facing up, on your thighs. Tilt your chin slightly downward, and focus your gaze several inches ahead with eyes relaxed but slightly open.
Use a cushion on the chair or place a block under your feet to make yourself as comfortable as possible, while still sitting up straight. Aim to remain still for as long as you can, however, it is okay if you shift your position during the session, as it is not necessary to strain.
Observe your Breath
Begin by gently noticing your breath through the nose. Is it tight, deep, relaxed or irregular?
Notice where you are and then gradually follow the breath into your lungs and back out again. When you succeed, you will notice how your breathing becomes longer and deeper.
You breathe all day every day, so you have nothing new to learn, just observe. When you do, you will come to the realisation that the breath is an excellent meditation tool because it helps to get you out of your thoughts and into the present moment.
Return to watching the breath every time you are distracted by your thinking. The practice is constant and consistent when you stay present with your breathing and are not be preoccupied with your thoughts.
Let Your Thoughts Float
While we would love to think that meditation is about not thinking, for most people, this is nearly impossible without a lifetime of practice. For time to time, you will lose focus on the breath and be consumed by a runaway thought. It's all part of the process. When thoughts arise, allow them to surface and just let them float across your mind like clouds in the sky. When you catch yourself thinking, simply return to watching the breath, over and over again.
Schedule your sessions at the same time of day and in the same place, if possible. Being consistent is key to reaping the benefits, and you will settle into your session more quickly and easily.
Be patient with yourself when you begin your practice and encounter some mental and physical roadblocks along the way. This is part of the process, so give yourself a break when you are not having amazing experiences on the meditation cushion.
However, when you deliberately practice mindfulness, you will be able to call on this with more skill. Having practiced attentive breathing in a consistent, relaxed atmosphere, simply focusing on your breath can be enough to induce that meditative mindset, even when life gets crazy.
It will happen gradually, but you will notice subtle changes arising from your new practice. After just a few sessions, you will notice that you do not get as distracted by your thoughts, are not as moody and are more productive overall.
Meditation is about the journey, not a destination. You will find that every meditation experience is unique and offers insights about yourself and your world that you never anticipated.
Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.
Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography
Travel with Shanti & Peter Gowans this November for a trip of a lifetime.