Now is a better time than ever to start practicing meditation. There’s so many benefits to a regular meditation practice but in these times of self isolation and lockdown, it will help reduce anxieties and bring a sense of calm to your day.
I’ve been meditating every day for 4 years now and I love the time, each day, to find some stillness. To be present and just exist. I prefer to meditate in the morning, to help start my day with a fresh feeling, but you can choose to do it at whatever time suits you.
One thing to consider with meditation is that people often get confused by this idea of trying to ‘stop thinking’, this is not what meditation is for. In fact, it’s impossible to stop your thoughts because the more you try, the more thinking you are applying to trying to stop them. Therefore, the more you are thinking!
To meditate, quite literally means, to get familiar with. So in using meditation, the aim is to become more familiar with yourself, your thinking, the space around you, your breath etc.
Meditation is more of a connection to living, to being truly present and to living in the moment more than anything else. It is a chance to focus your attention on your breathing whilst observing your thoughts, without getting caught up in them.
Below I have outlined 6 really simple steps to getting started with meditation. For me, this process is ideally carried out between 10-15 minutes to get the best results. But the nature of meditation means you can adapt this to whatever suits you, even if it is only 3 minutes or if you want to do 30 minutes.
One final thing to consider is that thinking is a natural process so don’t get disheartened when it occurs. During these steps, particularly the focus on the breathing (step 5), the moment you catch yourself thinking or you notice that you are caught up in your thoughts, just gently bring yourself back to the focus on the breath.
Meditation truly is a simple practice, so let’s get started. These 6 steps are for a simple breathwork meditation.
1. Setting up
Find somewhere comfortable to sit – this can be in a chair with your feet on the ground, cross-legged on the floor or even laying down. If you are sitting on the ground, you might want a small cushion or yoga mat to make it a little more comfortable.
The key is to ensure that your back is supported in an upright position, if you are sitting down (you can use a wall or something similar if you are cross-legged on the floor) or flat on the floor, if you are laying down.
2. Take some deep breaths
Soften your gaze, so you aren’t focussing on looking at anything in particular and begin to take some deep inhales and exhales – in through the nose and out through the mouth. Notice the rising and lifting sensation of the body as you inhale and the falling and softening sensation as you exhale.
Do 5 or 6 cycles of breath. On your final exhale, begin to gently close your eyes.
3. Notice your senses
Allow your breathing to go back to its natural rhythm – in through the nose and out through the nose.
Begin to notice the weight of your body pressing down and the contact between your bum on the chair or ground, your feet resting on the ground and your hands resting in your lap or on your legs.
Notice the sounds around you, without getting caught up in the sounds or labelling them. Just allow them to come and go.
4. Scan down your body
Bring the attention into your body and notice how it is feeling. If it is feeling relaxed or tight, heavy or light, tired or energetic, for example.
Then starting from the top of your head, do a slow even scan down your body to your toes.
Be sure to notice any sensations in the body – areas of tightness or areas of comfort – without changing anything. Just notice. Take 30-40 seconds to do this.
5. Focus on the breath
Once you reach your toes, begin to notice the breath in your body and where you can feel the rising and falling sensation. This could be in your belly, chest, shoulders or around your nose. It’s important to not try and change the way you are breathing, let it be natural.
Once you are comfortable with the breath, begin to count in cycles of 10. So, 1 being an inhale, 2 being an exhale, 3 an inhale, 4 an exhale, etc. Once you reach 10, start the cycle again from 1. Continue this for 5 or 6 cycles.
Note: when you notice your mind wandering or you feel yourself getting caught up in your thoughts, just gently bring your attention back to the breath and back to the counting, from where you left off.
6. Release any focus
Release any focus on the breath and the counting, and let your mind be free for a few seconds.
Bring your attention back into your body and back to the senses – the points of contact of your bum on the ground or on your chair, your feet resting on the ground and your hands resting on your lap or on your legs.
Begin to notice the sounds around you.
And when you are ready, in your own time, gently open your eyes.
And that’s it. A very simple meditation you can do at any time and from anywhere. You just need a quiet place and somewhere to sit.
If you are looking to build regular meditation into your day, the key is to commit to doing it at the same time every day.
I hope that this guide is helpful for you and if you have any further questions, be sure to message me on instagram @IAmAlexManzi and I will be happy to help.
Additionally, you can check out THIS guided meditation I recorded for my podcast.
Peace and love,