Now that we understand the benefits of meditation (see post: “The 21st Century Meditating Monk), how in fact does one go about meditating? Well, first it involves about seven years in Tibet studying with Brad Pitt…just kidding 😉
For those who want to meditate RIGHT THIS SECOND, the three principles to keep in mind for any meditation are below. We’ll then get into each in detail:
3) Be Kind to Yourself (aka ‘Forgiveness’)
As you may know, there are various ways to meditate from short “guided meditations” that are easily accessible via YouTube searches or apps such as HeadSpace, to those that have special schools / programs such as TM, short for “Transcendental Meditation.” Discussed below leans more towards the former practice, however they’re still relevant for the latter.
“Sit up straight!” – thanks mom. We all heard variations on this as kids, and can now probably see the point. It’s healthy to allow our body and all the various arteries, veins, organs, fluids, etc. to operate freely and without obstruction. In a meditation sense, it allows us to breathe deeply (as our lungs are expanded and not contracted), filling not only our lungs with life-giving air, but the rest of our bodies. On top of that, focusing on posture aligns all of our chakras, a must for any form of meditation #woowoo
I first learned to focus on posture (as well as the following two principles) during a class at the Shambhala Center in Austin. They have free classes throughout the week, and if you’re in Austin I highly recommend them for those starting to get into meditation! (and quick reminder, RESOURCES at the end of this post)
The breath is one of the few functions of our body that we can control, while also happening unconcsciously (such as while sleeping). It can act as a bridge between our conscious and subconscious, which I find very interesting and delightful.
On top of that, the breath is something that we can always take with us, regardless of where we are. I learned through meditation the practice of controlling my emotions and thoughts via the breath. Once one becomes comfortable with controlling the breath during meditation, they can take it out into the world – so the next time we’re stuck in traffic and want to flip the bird – focus on breath. The next time we get flooded with emails or additional projects at work – breath. The next time the kids have taken control of the house – breath.
Going a bit deeper, there are myriad studies pointing to the importance of the breath, not only to get that much needed oxygen, but to maintain an alkaline body. The video and podcast below featuring Wim Hoff has additional information on these emerging studies, which I encourage all who are interested to take some time with, which allows me not to bore you with scientific studies here!
Be Kind to Yourself (aka ‘Forgiveness’)
The last and possibly most important principle is to be kind to oneself during meditation. Many friends and colleagues complain that they can’t “shut off their minds” when meditating. Well…that’s kinda the point! We all have trouble shutting off our minds when we first meditate and that’s OK because guess what? This practice…takes practice. No one is a meditation expert and I’m willing to bet even the Dalai Llama has his off days.
Once one has some experience with meditation, they’ll still find themselves thinking of that project due for work later in the day, the traffic they may encounter on a commute, or if they put the laundry in the dryer. What helps me is viewing these thoughts like push notifications on a phone – I recognize their existence, and then “swipe” them away from my mind, again returning to my internal calm. This process happens to everyone while meditating, so don’t be hard on yourself!
Expanding a bit on this topic, imagine a world where we all believed in ourselves 100% of the time. How much could we accomplish as individuals and as a global community? And why don’t we already do this? If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’ve graduated high school, or college, and have myriad accomplishments under your belt. I mean, at the very least you beat all the other sperm to the egg! #winning
In my experience, most self-talk is negative: “I can’t,” “shouldn’t,” “won’t.” In my opinion this is a logical fallacy, given the accomplishments we can ALL find in our lives. Be kind to yourself. Find your power.
This is a lot for now, so let’s plan on following up with another conversation about different ways to meditate that not only fit into our busy lives, but are a lot of fun!
Thanks for reading and blessings on blessings,