The title is a bit misleading, there is more than one way to meditate but in this post I’m going to share how I personally do it, if it doesn’t resonate with you that’s perfectly fine, we all need to find what works for us.
Meditation is the formal practice of mindfulness, Mindfulness is the informal practice of meditation, the two work together and strengthen one another, I’ll get into mindfulness in a future post.
As for meditation, one of the most important aspects is our posture, we need an alert, upright posture, but like anything there is always a middle way. We don’t want to be too tense and rigid but at the same time not too relaxed, an important aspect of our posture in meditation is that our back remains straight and unsupported. It needs to remain unsupported to keep us awake and alert, our mind and body work together, a sloppy posture makes a sloppy mind.
We can sit crossed legged on the floor, on a chair ( with our back unsupported) or we can use a meditation bench, which is what I personally use, a picture of it is found below, you kneel on it and it takes the pressure off your legs.
However you decide to sit though make sure you are comfortable, that you can maintain the position for at least 20 mins. Like I said earlier the posture needs to be upright, alert and stable. We want our body to be able to hold this posture and remain still for a set period of time, when we hold our body still our mind eventually calms down and becomes still too. My personal posture is in the picture below while I sit on the meditation bench.
Once we are settled and comfortable in our posture we want to close our eyes and bring our attention to our breathing. It’s preferred to breathe in and out of our nose but if you can’t, breathing through the mouth is perfectly ok too. Our breathing should be felt from our diaphragm not our chest, chest breathing promotes shallow breathing, we want relaxed breaths from our diaphragm. To focus on our breathing means to become aware of the feeling of it, to be aware that it is happening, the reason we become aware of our breath is because it’s a present moment experience, we have no option but to be in the present when we focus on it.
I view following my breathing as a kind of a home base though, as I follow it, if something else grabs my attention say a sound, a feeling, or even a thought I focus on that which has grabbed my attention, become aware of it then return back to home base, the breath. Meditation is about becoming aware of what’s happening while it’s happening and accepting what’s happening with non judgement and openness.
We can’t do meditation wrong, the only goal we have is to just sit still for a certain period of time and watch what comes up, some meditation sessions your mind will be racing and that’s ok, become aware of that and accept it’s happening, other days your mind will be calm and peaceful, that’s ok, become aware of it and accept it’s happening. What we are trying to do is to just sit, be open and accepting to whatever arises, to realise we see the beginning and end of every thought, feeling, perception and sensation, to realise because we are able to do this it means we can’t possibly be any of those things we do become aware of.
Meditation as I mentioned earlier is the formal practice of mindfulness, what will slowly begin to happen the more you practice is that you will take the accepting, non judgmental attitude that you cultivate on the meditation cushion into everyday life which is the secret to inner peace. Peace comes from acceptance of what is, even if it means we must accept that we can’t accept a situation.
All we must do is just sit and watch. Watch frustration come and go, watch boredom come and go, watch feelings of calm come and go, our job isn’t to achieve any particular experience or state but to realise you are that which all experiences and states come and go within.
I usually meditate for 45 minutes per day with my longest being 3 hours and shortest 5 minutes, you can sit for any length of time, what’s more important than time is consistency, doing 10 mins a day is better than 1 hour once a week, treat it as showering or brushing your teeth, it’s daily hygiene for the mind.
I’ll leave it at that for now, any questions or thoughts feel free to leave a comment below, thanks for reading.