When you think about meditation, you think about
A monk, sitting in isolation, on a hard stone floor, wearing a reddish-brown uniform with his eyes closed, absolutely still.
Even if you have never tried mediation yourself, you could tell that the monk is at peace! He doesn’t seem worried or stressed.
He seems in control.
And that's exactly why you're probably here.
You want to do that, you want to be at peace, you want your stress levels to be in control, you want to be calmer, you… want to be better.
Well, let me take you there.
CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT
Begin by laying flat on your back with your eyes closed. Take a deep inhale, hold for 3 seconds, and exhale completely by pressing your tongue and lips together. Repeat this 10 times, interspersed with a 3-count of non-judgment, counting. Close your eyes, and let the counting be without judgment toward yourself.
ACT LIKE YOU’RE IN YOUR OWN HOMETOWN
Take a relaxed, self-focused breath and imagine yourself walking through a neighborhood, your steps flowing smoothly and naturally. Imagine yourself floating in the air above you, so you’re not the one breathing in or out. Imagine you’re in the present moment.
SPEAK ONLY TO YOUR BREATH
Avoid judging yourself for anything. Feel your heart beating, your breath on the tip of your tongue, the temperature of your skin. If the thought of yourself doing something wrong or flawed comes to mind, simply say, “It’s OK.” Take 3 deep breaths, then next time you’re thinking about these things, attempt to ignore them, feeling your heart drumming as you do.
USE YOUR BREATH TO NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
Visually, let your thoughts run through your head, running off of negative thoughts. If you’re having thoughts or feelings of being unloved, bullied, hurt or depressed, gently say to them, “I’m with you.” Then, try to notice the bodily sensations (e.g., a tight throat, a knot in your chest, a downturned face) and notice what a compassionate response it feels like.
START WITH A DIFFERENT RELAXING GAME
This is our game, and we’re in charge. Decide to relax and be still, deeply breathing all 10 counts. Follow the instructions, and try not to judge yourself for this (though remember, we can always judge later). Notice thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, whatever. Whatever you feel gives you peace. Continue to breathe, observing but totally unplugged. Find a rhythm that works for you, try and maintain it for at least 3 breaths.
Then, switch it up and pick a different calming breathing exercise.
ACT LIKE A KID
Experiencing hyperawareness and a headache on a class of meditators, we hope you’ll try our new breathing technique to de-stress. Press your tongue and lips together, close your eyes and, feel your heart beating, feel your breath on the tip of your tongue. Imagine yourself floating in the air above you, so with every inhale, you’re meeting your parasympathetic challenges on the way up. Imagine you're in the present moment. Your Bluetooth might beibel or your trusted breath journal might beep/click. Feel your parasympathetic challenge melt away. After you’ve completed this 30 times, this will be easier to navigate in your life.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOUR FIRST CONCENTRATION MEDITATION
1. INTRODUCE MEDITATION TO ANY SAUCY CLASS OR GROUP
If app land was packed with inspiring self-improvement programs, mindful meditation would reign supreme. Literally. The practice traces back to Indian yogis who included body and breath exercises into their practice, but the word “meditation” came to be associated with high-tech Western institutions like Stanford University, where neuroscientists fostered the development of technology intended to impart mindfulness.
2. NINE WAYS TO MINDFULNESS
Focusing on relaxed, slow breathing with the timer set to 15 seconds, wandering the mind with gradual acceptance of feelings without judgment, focusing on feelings in the physical senses, and seeing the person sitting across from you in the room — all of these practices can help you engage your mind in a more meditative state.
3. INTENTIONAL BREATHING IS BETTER THAN INTENTIONALLY BREATHING
Mindfulness is more than just relaxing into a coconut. Breathing mindfully doesn't mean you lay there and say nothing — there are many helpful cues you can give yourself to help you stay in that benevolent place of acceptance and kindness.
4. THEY’RE JUST “SOFT TALKING”
Sometimes, we speak the things we’re actually thinking — about all the work, politics, and gossip that needs to be dished out, all the conversation, food, and wine we’re drinking, and those silly Instagram posts we’re swooshing through on an all-fours. Keep it relaxed, even breathless.
5. AND A MINDFUL SIDE EDGE
For practitioners of headspace, calm breathing counts, and mindfulness brothers, that mind-body connection is one of the highest bounties. Though the disciplines are more about feeling good rather than being good, the idea is to aim to use the full spectrum of your senses to indulge, surprise, confide, and share — instead of feeling self-conscious and isolated (think: the show Freaks and Gals).
6. WAKE-UP CALL
Sometimes it’s convenient to come into the day groggily. Sit with this: You get to say hello to yourself and the person across from you. Say hello with breath and awareness; be grateful that the person sitting across from you is sane, that their mom is watching them, that their grandparents are giving them the space they need to practice such mindful practices. Share all you have going on, without feeling self-conscious. Let it go.
What to think about while meditating?
Here are 6 prompts you can think about while meditating if you find just focusing on breathing boring.
- Start your meditation on a positive note by thinking about three things you are grateful for.
- Mantra meditation is a way for us to control those thoughts and feelings around a central idea.
- Try to find at least one lesson or take away that you can reflect on.
- Focus your thoughts on the things that inspire you.
- try to figure out what you can do to be more fulfilled and enjoy your life more.
- Listen to Guided Meditation videos.