Time and again we are told that meditation can be a wonderful, simple way to de-stress and achieve inner peace. But how to begin?
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Originally meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life, meditation today is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction in this often-too-chaotic world. Anyone can practice meditation. It’s simple and inexpensive, and it doesn’t require any special equipment. And you can do it wherever you are — whether at home, out for a walk (mindful walking), riding in a car (not driving!), on a train or plane, waiting at the doctor’s office, or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting. Meditation is being present in ~ being aware of ~ life from moment to moment.
To begin a simple seated meditation, find a comfortable position. You can sit in a comfortable chair, with your feet flat on the ground or on the floor (or cushion) with comfortably crossed legs, in what we call “easy pose.” The key here is comfort, comfort, comfort; you can’t meditate if you’re uncomfortable. Lean against a wall if you like or lean back in your chair. However you’re seated, try to keep your spine straight, and simply place your hands in your lap with palms facing upward.
Close your eyes and begin by focusing on your breath. Observe the inflow and outflow of your breath without attempting to control it in any way. You might try using gentle music to help soothe and guide you to focus on your breathing. Whenever your attention drifts away from your breath to a sound in the environment, a sensation in your body, or a thought in your mind, recognize the sound, sensation, or thought, then let it go, gently returning your awareness to your breath.
Controlling the inner chatter of our mind can be extremely difficult for most people. Beginners can easily become frustrated by the flood of thoughts that tend to bubble up when they attempt to sit quietly. If – or rather when – thoughts bubble up in your head, I suggest that you just observe them quietly, and let them float away. Don’t judge. Don’t tell yourself you’re not doing a very good job. The goal of meditation is to let go of all thoughts, quietly and passively. The purpose, as Deepak Chopra reminds us, is to simply “stop thinking for a while, to wait for the fog of thought to thin, and to glimpse the spirit within.”
So if the stresses of life have you anxious, tense or worried at times, consider meditation. Spending even just a few minutes in meditation each day can restore calm and inner peace. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose – and a world of inner peace and calmness to attain. Let me know how it goes!