Today’s post on learning to meditate is by guest blogger Elesa Commerse, founder of Touching Earth, a Chicago-based mindfulness center. Elesa will be leading a workshop at Green Mountain from March 24-30, called Befriending the Body, Befriending the Mind.®
Anything we do takes on enhanced vigor and purpose when we bring mindfulness to it. That’s because whatever we focus on magnifies. If you want to infuse the power of mindfulness into your life, learn to meditate. Here are the basics:
1. Know why you’re sitting.
Why do you want to meditate? I’ll tell you why I sit. Because this is the one, precious life I have and I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and say, “Where did the time go? Where did my life go?” Moreover, every thought you have creates a chemical reaction in the body. On average, you have between 70,000 – 90,000 thoughts a day. 95% of those thoughts are re-runs of the past or anticipations of the future. When you meditate you effectively generate some headspace – thereby allowing the mind and body to rest. This has extraordinary benefits for your overall well-being.
2. Know how to sit.
You won’t be able to experience a meditative state unless can sit comfortably. For most, this means sitting in a chair instead of on the floor. When it comes to meditation, comfort is king so don’t short change yourself. Sit in a way that supports the natural curvature of your spine. Make sure your feet aren’t reaching for the floor but instead rest on the floor. Once comfortable, sit still. The stillness of your body will still your mind.
If sitting isn’t your thing, do a walking or standing meditation instead. Tai Chi and Chi Gong are moving forms of meditation. Get good instruction from a reputable teacher, regardless of what type of meditation you do. Gradually increase your sitting time, from five minutes up to about 20 minutes. Set a non-jarring timer and get up when your session ends.
3. Find a good place to sit.
A good place to sit is a clean, quiet, non-drafty place where you won’t be disturbed.
4. Know how to meditate.
Just because you’re sitting doesn’t mean you’re meditating. When we meditate we’re doing something. We’re sitting on purpose. We’re abiding in a state of authentic friendship, patience and non-judgmental awareness – with ourselves – witnessing thoughts and feelings as they arise and dissolve without being swept away by them. Our mind becomes full of the moment, moment by moment, until our meditation session ends. There are a number of meditation techniques you can learn from a good teacher. These include ways to focus, including working with the breath; systematic relaxation of the body; chanting a mantra; using visualizations; and more.
5. When you’re done sitting, get up and carry that deep calm, peace and clarity into the rest of your day.
6. Inspire yourself.
Beautify your meditation space with a candle, incense, object of beauty like a flower, leaf or stone, a picture of your teacher, favorite poem or sacred passage. Keep it simple.
7. Keep sitting.
Once is not enough. Just like establishing a healthy relationship to your body, it takes time to develop the ability to focus, concentrate your awareness and relinquish the stickiness that initially comes with most thoughts and feelings.
Call Green Mountain at 800-448-8106 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about Elesa’s workshop.
Photo by Keoni Cabral.