Many people want to know how to meditate properly because very often meditation is shrouded in a lot of “should” and “shouldn’ts”. I like to de-mystify meditation and try to make it as easy and simple as possible.
There are a few basic things you need to know and be aware of when meditating and the rest you learn and grow from as you progress. The problem is that people sometimes do not even start meditating because the “how to” seems too daunting.
So let’s simplify meditation! Here are some easy simple steps:
- 1. Make sure you are in a quiet, private space where you will not be disturbed.
- 2. Free yourself of any distractions. For example, switch off phones.
- 3. Sit comfortably- You do not need to sit in the lotus position unless you are comfortable to do so. You can sit on a chair or on the floor. If you are sitting on a chair make sure that your arms and legs are not crossed and your feet are flat on the floor.
- 4. Make sure your spine/ back is straight- You can either sit in a chair with your back supported or you can sit on the floor with your back against the wall. If you sit on the floor, make sure your knees are lower than your buttocks so that your knees are sloping down. This helps to straighten your spine. You can do this by perching off the edge of a thick cushion or by using a meditation stool (click if you would like to know more about meditation stools). You can even lie down if you choose. As I said, there is no rigidity regarding how to meditate properly. Find a position that works best for you. They key thing is to be comfortable but not too comfortable that you fall asleep.
- 5. Face your palms upwards- we have many nerve endings in our fingers and hands, so when we put our palms face down whatever we are touching sends messages to our brain via these nerve endings and make it slightly more difficult to quiet our mind and free ourselves of distractions.
- 6. Close your eyes- In general one closes ones eyes in meditation, however again this is not a hard and fast rule. You can even do a meditation by focusing your mind on a particular object- a candle, a flower, a picture etc.
- 7. Take 20 deep breaths- Focus all your attention on your breathing. Slow your breath and try to breathe as deeply as possible without straining. Breathe into the bottom of your lungs. You know you are doing this right when you can see or feel your stomach rising and falling as you breathe in and out.
Breathing deeply will put you in a meditative space. From here there are many ways to continue your meditation.
- You could focus on emptying or stilling your mind. Every time a thought enters your mind, let it go, detach from it. Do not give it energy or attention. You could even imagine sitting on the bank of a river watching the water flow by. Every time a thought enters your head, place it on a log in the river and see it floating away, knowing that you can pick it up later if need be.
- You could focus on your body. Scan your body for any areas of pain, discomfort, stress. Focus on that area. How does it feel? Is there a memory or emotion that is attached to this area? Is this area trying to talk to you? Is there a message for you?
- You can also meditate on emotions. Notice how you are feeling and how this feeling feels in your body. You do not need to try change the feeling. Acceptance is the key. Embrace the emotion even if it is a supposedly “negative” emotion.
- You could also do one of a number of guided meditations. This is generally an mp3 which guides you through a meditation process.
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