A Step-by-Step Guide for Daily Meditation
You’ve probably heard about the countless benefits meditation has to offer… but how do you do it? And can it be done without a light-filled room clouded in incense? And also, do I need a gong? The answer is no, you don’t need any of that stuff, although if you prefer it, then by all means. Meditation can happen anywhere, at any time, depending on what your practice looks like, and forming a practice is made a little easier by making it a habit that works for you.
Let go of the idea that anything is going to happen.
First thing’s first — if you’re thinking one meditation session is going to result in a life-changing epiphany every single time you do it (that’s me! I do that!) this really sucks to hear, but you’re probably going to be super disappointed (…oh). That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen! Sometimes meditation can look like total detachment from our thoughts and connect with something bigger… but other times, it might just involve a lot of intrusive replays about that guy who cut you off in the grocery store parking lot and an inability to shut your brain off for even two seconds. It’s just important to remember that both of these experiences are okay. It’s called a meditation practice because it takes just that: practice.
Set a timer.
If you’re just starting, recommitting to your practice, or are just having a tough time actually sitting down to meditate, try setting a timer and keeping your goal small and manageable. When I get insanely high expectations for my meditation practice, it usually ends with me telling myself I’ll just be a two-hour tantra master tomorrow, and then I go back to my family-sized bag of Fritos (which I’m not hating on because God bless Fritos, but the point is, I didn’t meditate!). “I’m going to meditate for five minutes a day,” usually feels a lot more doable than, “I’m going to meditate every day.”
There’s no wrong way to meditate, but it’s generally suggested that you get a position where your spine is elongated and supported and that you choose a time and space where you won’t be distracted (read: turn your ringer off!).
The practice of meditating is all about awareness, and an incredibly effective way to focus on one thing is to engage in mindful breathing, or taking deliberate breaths. This allows us to get grounded in our bodies and literally exhale any stale or heavy gunk that’s been taking up space in our precious frames. It’s always best to keep it short and simple and just get into a flow, so try inhaling slowly for five seconds, then exhale slowly for five seconds, and so on.
Get ready for the thoughts to start rushing by.
Like an ex who reaches out as soon as you’ve blocked them and moved on, thoughts are gonna show up. It’s just a fact of life (ask Bill Nye, he can confirm this). Meditation is not always about turning off your thoughts, and I know when I think that’s the point, I usually end up feeling super frustrated and kind of anxious because I just laid there and tried to control a totally normal thing for several minutes. The “clouds in the sky” analogy works for me: imagine that an individual thought is like a cloud in the sky. Notice it, acknowledge it if you want, and just let it pass on by. Rather than attach to it, just stay focused on that breathing.
Slowly re-enter reality.
Once you’ve finished, take your time getting back into the swing of things, if you can. Maybe try taking a few more deep breaths, or letting your eyes adjust to the real world before you get back up and at it. Or just lie there. That’s never a bad way to spend a few minutes.
Written by: Krissy Howard