How to Meditate
How to Meditate
Meditation can help with many mental health symptoms related to conditions like anxiety and depression. If you have tried meditation in the past and you got frustrated and it didn’t work for you, you don’t have to give up on meditation completely. If you have trauma around religion, you don’t need to be religious to meditate. There are scientifically proven benefits to meditation. There are many various kinds of meditation. Some are very formal and have lots of rules. Others are very simple and sometimes simple is best.
If you’ve tried meditation and it didn’t work, perhaps you tried a type of meditation that doesn’t agree with you. It may have been the requirement to sit still, or to breathe in a certain way, or be in a certain position, or recite a certain mantra over and over, etc. that didn’t work. While all of those ways and rules of meditation work for many, they don’t work for all. There is no one “correct” way to meditate. It is best if you do some form of meditation every day. The more you do it, the more consistent you are, the more you will benefit.
Here are some suggestions for meditation when conventional or stereotypical meditation doesn’t work.
1. Try movement There really is no need to sit still or hold a certain position. You can walk and meditate. Walking is actually a good way to induce a meditative state. Pay attention to the rhythm of your steps. Feel your feet in your shoes making contact with the ground in a repetitive pattern. Pay attention to the movement of your arms as they swing back and forth. Draw your attention to your breath. Look at the scenery as you walk and get lost in the sights, sounds, smells, feeling of the sun on your skin or the wind on your face, and the tastes floating on the air.
2. Try something ordinary Don’t have time to meditate? Can’t find time to be alone to focus on meditation? Try turning something ordinary that you do every day into a meditation. It could be washing the dishes. Think of how repetitive washing the dishes is. You can turn this activity into a meditation simply by paying attention to the process and the sensory experience of washing the dishes. Pay attention to the wetness and temperature of the water on your skin, feel the slippery soap on your hands, smell the left over food and the scented soap you use, watch as the residue on your dishes gets washed away as you wipe and rinse, hear the clink of glasses, plates, and silverware, etc. Sink into the experience.
3. Write in a journal every day Yes, writing can be a form of meditation. If you handwrite daily entries in a journal, you can become aware of your hand as it moves across the page. You can pay attention to the shape, form, and color of the letters as you write them. You can feel the paper as your hand glides across it. You can write a stream of consciousness. Write down anything that comes to your mind. Don’t pay attention to spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Let it all go, and let your thoughts flow out on the page until you are empty.
If you are looking for a more conventional or stereotypical way of meditating that is simple and accessible try the following:
1. Commit to 5-30 minutes a day. Even a 5 minute meditation has benefit. If you’ve never meditated before, start with 5 minutes. You can increase the time you meditate as you progress.
2. Find a quiet place and time. Our lives are often incredibly busy. It’s a radical act to slow down, be quiet, and remove distractions.
3. Get comfortable. Relax. Try stretching or taking a few deep breaths before meditating. It can help you sit still during your meditation and can prepare your body to enter a meditative state.
4. Pick a comfortable position. Sitting is a common position. Find a comfortable chair or, if comfortable, sit on the floor on a cushion. You can also lay down. If you choose to lay down, you may find yourself falling asleep. That’s OK. Maybe you need a nap.
5. Breathe. This is simple because you don’t normally have to think to breathe. When meditating, it’s helpful to focus on your breath, especially at first. Feel the cool air come into your nose and fill your lungs. Then feel the warm air flow up from the lungs and out through your mouth when you exhale. Slow and deep breathing is helpful to induce a meditative state.
6. Focus. Try closing your eyes. Focus on the present. Focus on being exactly where you are right now. Feel your body and the way you’ve positioned it. Feel the temperature of the air around you. If your mind strays and random thoughts some, it’s ok. Simply notice them, thank them, and let them go. If thoughts become especially troublesome, come back to your breathing and focus on it.
7. Come back and finish. When you are ready to end your meditation, open your eyes and stand up slowly.
There are many more ways to meditate. If you need more suggestions, please feel free to message me or simply comment below this post.