WELLNESS--Let’s start with what meditation isn’t. There are so many myths around meditation that end up stopping people from even trying. For starters, people always say, “I can’t stop my mind from working which prevents me from meditating.” The goal of meditation is not to stop the mind. The mind will stop when we die, and not before that.
There are many goals of meditation, but if we put the goal of simply getting present at the forefront, meditation becomes much easier. If getting present includes hearing all the sounds around us, and feeling aware of our bodies and the climate, then we did it!
Meditation is not some magical practice that instantly transforms our lives into something different. In fact, wanting our lives to be something other than they are is quite the opposite of real awareness. Awareness is simply focusing on what is.
Getting started with meditation. The easiest way to get started is to simply sit down wherever you can find a place and breath. That’s it, just find a place to sit down and start to breath while counting your breaths 1 to 10. When you get to 10 start back at 1 again and repeat that.
I suggest starting with 5 minutes. If you can find a quiet place to do this, that would be fantastic. If you can’t find a quiet place do it anyway. If you want to sit on a meditation cushion and put your legs into lotus position that works. If you have no idea what lotus position is and you have a bad back and no cushion then just sit in one of your chairs.
Ideally you want to sit upright with the spine straight if possible. One of the main reasons is so you don’t fall asleep during your practice. Next, turn your phone on airplane mode and set the timer for 5 minutes. That is plenty of time to start with. Once that is done you have two options; you can close your eyes, or set an object about three feet in front of you that you can focus on during your practice.
Once you are settled in and the timer is set and your phone is off or in airplane mode, simply start breathing and count your breaths as you do. Try to follow your breath in and out of your body as it moves in and out of your lungs. As you does count with each exhale being a count. In other words breath in and out, that’s one, in and out, that’s two … etc. When you reach 10-count start back at one. Your only job here is breath, count, and follow your breath in and out.
What’s going to happen next is that your mind will take you to other places including thoughts about your day or your challenges or a multitude of other ideas. This is normal and when it happens simply come back to the breath again. If you lose count, just notice and then start back at one with no judgment towards yourself or your performance. This is your time and no one else’s and I promise that if you keep doing this every day it’s going to start feeling like a treat.
Meditating is one of the only things that we do completely for ourselves and it will help life move through us in a more fluid way.
We all know the benefits already. Better sleep, calmer nerves, more patience, a clearer mind, lower blood pressure and an ease of life. Try it, and when you feel like five minutes is easy, just go to 6 minutes for a few days. Build your practice a minute at a time until you get to twenty minutes.
Happy meditation, and let me know if you have any questions at all.
(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: @CristianoWFR)