Many people love the idea of meditation but balk at the thought of it being a formal, serious affair. Rather than add yet another thing on your “to do” list, it’s tempting to write off meditating as just another chore.
But meditation needs no special training, no huge time commitment, and no fancy materials; all it requires is intention and breath. Meditation has been scientifically shown to have profound and beneficial effects on the entire body, and anyone can achieve this by adopting a simple daily meditation practice. Here’s a good meditation practice to begin.
Find your breath.
First, go somewhere you know you will not be disturbed for at least five minutes. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. To begin, simply become aware of your breath. It’s not necessary to alter it in any way; only become aware of it entering and leaving your body. Pay attention to the temperature of the air, the feeling of it in your lungs and your nostrils, and the way your chest rises and falls with each breath. Your breath will naturally settle into a calm rhythm and help you bring your attention inward. Most of the time our attention and consciousness are focused outward, but for meditation, we learn to focus inward.
Tune into your body.
Once you feel comfortably conscious of your breathing, turn your focus to your body. Act as though each inhalation carries energizing and healing cosmic energy; shine your awareness on each part of your body, starting at your feet. Notice the weight of your feet, and focus on any tension you may be holding there. Choose to let it go. Move on to your calves and thighs, and up the rest of your body, part by part. Especially concentrate on your face and shoulders, as these places tend to hold a lot of tension. Notice your facial muscles, jaw, lips, and eyebrows, and let them all release and relax.
Tune into your own inner world.
Gradually, let your consciousness spread even further. By now, your body should be feeling relaxed and lighter. Now, shifting awareness from your breath and body, start to let them go and go deeper into the center of your being. Unplug from your outer senses and go deep within. Inside yourself, you will start to access your own peaceful inner core.
The mind is a powerful thing. Even among distractions, by visualizing serenity, calmness, and happiness, it becomes easier to access those states throughout the day. A great exercise is to create a special meditative place where you can return to throughout your day. Spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy expressed, “When you soulfully meditate, the first thing you get is peace.” He often described finding your own “heart garden” and like a child, absorbing yourself in that pure and inspiring space. So, turn inward and imagine, in as much detail as possible, a beautiful and tranquil place. This could be a shady grove beside a rock pool, a deserted castle, or a quiet library on a distant planet. You decide.
Take your time to flesh out every last detail about this place. When beginning, imagine you are really there and even use the smells, the sights, and the sounds. Importantly, focus on how you feel in this place. Do you feel safe? Relaxed? Energized? Enjoy this feeling. Spend some time moving around in your special place, indulging in whatever imagery suggests itself to you.
When you are done, come out from your meditation slowly. Open your eyes and stretch a little. This entire meditation can take as little as five minutes but has the power to reset your frame of mind altogether. Try to carry the sense of calm you have cultivated with you for the rest of the day. Remember that your special place is always there, just a few minutes and a few breaths away.