Most of us lead hectic lives as we balance our work with personal obligations. We may be stressed out juggling all of this and need some sort of stress release, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. Or we may be perfectly happy with our busy lives, but still could use some time to bring some peace and calm into our world.
Meditation has long been a practice that lets people find that inner peace and outer calm. It allows us to take a break from the busyness of our lives. It gives us a respite from hurrying about so we can create some outer calm. And it provides our minds with a rest from thinking overtime and growing more stressed by the day.
If you’ve never really experienced inner peace and outer calm, you’re in for a real treat. Meditation is not just for monks, religious fanatics, or recluses. Today meditation is for everyone who seeks sanctuary from the world–even for a few minutes a day. And it’s not all that complicated or difficult to do to get instant benefits. You might not become a master meditator and achieve instant stillness of your mind the first time you do it, but you will get immediate relief from your frantic life as you retreat into that quiet place within.
Here are 10 simple steps to start you on your way:
1. Commit to your daily practice. Decide that you will meditate every day, even if just for 5 minutes.
2. Find a place where you can meditate every day. Pick a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed and meditate there every day, as you will build up energy in that space.
3. Choose the time. Meditate the same time each day if possible, best times being early morning or early evening. Start out for 5 minutes and add a few more minutes each day until you’re up to 20-30 minutes.
4. Prepare the environment. Light a candle, burn incense, create an atmosphere conducive to quieting your mind and body.
5. Warm up. Before meditating, practice yoga or stretch out your body to relax your muscles and slow down your mind.
6. Select the most comfortable posture. Most meditators sit in a chair, on the floor, or on a bench with a straight back. Find what works best for you so you stay alert but relaxed.
7. Start with 3-part breathing. Breathe in through your nose into your abdomen and let it expand. Bring the breathe into your lungs and let them fill up. Collapse your abdomen and push the air out through your nose.
8. Continue slow, deep breathing. Breathe slowly and deeply to a count of 5 for each of the three parts, until you feel sufficiently relaxed.
9. Select a method for each meditation session. You might try counting breaths, counting numbers or saying a mantra (a simple one is I AM). Listen to music, watch a candle. Observe your thoughts; stare at a mandala. You can also experiment with chanting, visualizing a relaxing scene, doing yoga, or simply practicing a state of mindfulness. All are all acceptable methods for meditating; find out which one works for you.
10. Keep a journal. Record your experiences with meditation to see what benefits you’re getting; this will keep you motivated to keep at it and try different things.
Some people meditate for years and never achieve a perfectly silent mind, however, if you don’t make that your only goal, you won’t set yourself up for disappointment or failure. Just look at the precious time you take to sit quietly in meditation as a mental spa, a break in your routine, a gift to yourself. You need to take time every day to recharge your mental and physical batteries. Consider meditation as your tool to achieve inner peace and outer calm to return to your life refreshed.