Meditation has become extremely popular in western society in the recent years; however, it has existed for thousands of years and has obviously passed the test of time in various other cultures.
The benefits of meditation are numerous, in general, it will enhance your life, one way or another, but it takes time, patience and effort to develop the practice. It is a worthwhile journey.
There are many forms of meditation although I will focus on the single point meditation technique in this article. This is a simple form of meditation, where we train attention to aim at a single object, like the breath, continually bringing our awareness the breath.
This is not as easy as it sounds.
Set a timer for 5-15 minutes, depending on how long you want to meditate for. You should not meditate for longer than 15 minutes for your first few times. The timer will keep you from being distracted and worrying about the passage of time.
Start your timer, and then get comfortable.
Begin by focusing on your breath. Become aware of how it moves smoothly in and out of your body. Focus on it, and the points where it switches from inhale to exhale. Feel the coolness of the breath entering the nostrils and warm breath leaving the body. Feel the passage through the nasal cavities, throat and windpipe, feel the movement of the chest, rising and falling effortlessly, not controlling the breath.
You will notice thoughts pop into your head now and again, perhaps quite often at first. These could be to-do lists, recent conversations, future concerns, an itch, a memory, anything, the mind will want to fill the void and take you away on a journey of distraction.
Accept this and accept yourself. Your mind and body both know what they're doing. Acknowledge the distractions, and then bring your focus back to your breath, the distractions will diminish.
If you like, you may count your breath, count each inhale and exhale together as just one count.
Try and get to five If your mind wanders off, start back at one after you've focused back on your breath. When you get to five, start again at one.
When the timer goes and you come to the end, breath more consciously, deeper breath and gently move the body at first.
That's it! You might feel like your mind was continually taking you off track and you that you don’t feel any particular benefit, it’s ok, this is normal. Even if you managed to calm your thoughts and bring the mind onto the breath, just once, this is already progress.
The more you meditate, the sooner you will notice its benefits. You will notice that after a short time, you can easily maintain the single point focus. You might then expand your practice by focusing on a word or mantra of some sort. Anything you find inspirational or motivational is a great mantra to use. Repeat the mantra silently in your head for the duration of your practice.
Yoga classes provide the opportunity for guided meditation, or perhaps try the excellent free app, ‘Insight Timer’ for a wealth of meditations. Practice, be patient, and become the ‘watcher of your thoughts’, and you will live a better life.