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June 07, 2021 7 min read

Meditation is transformational. It can boost every aspect of your life including your health, well-being and your performance.

 

What I have noticed most through my practice is that meditation not only brings a sense of peace and calm, it's hugely helpful to build self-awareness which helps me to notice and move beyond any limiting beliefs and behaviours. And it has been the place I’ve found the insights, ideas and inspiration to find more fulfilment in my life and to fuel my creativity. It’s a way to find fresh solutions to see endless possibilities ahead.

 

Meditation can be a bit intimidating if you’ve never tried it.  But I think we have misunderstandings about the practice and we tend to make up excuses. Like…”I can’t meditate because…”

I’ll never be able to sit still for that long
I can’t sit in lotus position
I’ll never be able to stop thinking
I don’t have time to meditate
It takes years to learn to meditate

 

But in reality anybody and everybody can do it, and YOU CAN DO IT TOO, with a little help. The first thing is to put yourself into the right mind set. Forget all the concerns that have blocked you from meditation in the past. It may seem intimidating to try and sit in one spot, “not thinking” for a long period of time. But it’s not difficult to do, particularly if you start off with just a few minutes of practice, even 5 minutes is enough, and if you practice daily.  

 

Here are lots of TIPS TO HELP YOU MEDITATE WITH EASE AND COMFORT,  comfort in body and in mind.  

 

Find a comfortable seat

One of the most important elements of a comfortable meditation practice is to find an ease-filled sitting position that works best for your body, so that you can focus on the meditation rather than being distracted by body sensations. It’s important to choose a position that is conducive to an alertness of the mind and that enables your back to remain properly aligned in it’s natural S curve, but not rigid or stiff. You should feel firmly grounded and connected with your seat, and also feel open, spacious and relaxed in your upper body. There are different options you can try.  

Sit on a chair - but not just any chair, a straight-backed chair.  Be sure to choose a chair that has a perfectly level and flat seat (notice that the seat of some chairs tilt backwards, or dip into the centre).  Sit upright towards the front the chair, not leaning against the back of it. Place a small cushion between your lower back and the chair in order to ensure this upright position.  

Many meditators prefer to sit on the floor on a meditation cushion. The purpose of a meditation cushion is to elevate your hips off the floor allowing your lower back to rest comfortably in it's natural curve.  Different heights are available, and you can experiment to find the best height for your body: stack some yoga blocks and/or folded blankets until you get a sense of the most comfortable height, then measure. As a general guideline, choose a height that will allow your knees to be lower than your hips.  You might consider a thick floor cushion to place your meditation cushion on - this will softly protect your feet, ankles and knees from the hard floor.  NOTE: you definitely don’t have to sit in lotus position!  Try a simple cross-legged position or any of these:

 

Soften your eyes

It's typical to close your eyes during meditation as this helps to close your mind to external distractions so that you can focus on your inner experience.  You may wish to experiment with a soft eyes-half-open gaze, focusing on a single spot on the floor about 5 ft in front of you.

 

Rest your hands

It may seem simple and insignificant, but in fact your hand position plays an important role during meditation and helps to deepen your practice.  The most important thing is to be comfortable, and comfort may mean different positions on different days.  Experiment with these hand positions:

  • Resting your hands on your knees, palms up is a gesture of openness and receiving.
  • Resting your hands on your knees palms down is grounding and can help calm and quiet your mind.
  • You may also like to try a mudra, hand positions said to channel your body's energy, engage and stimulate different areas of your brain. There are many different mudras so it's worth looking deeper.

 

Build your self-awareness for greater comfort

Meditation trains you to build awareness of sensations, emotions, thoughts...this is mindfulness.  Awareness can transmute anything that obstructs you and hinders your comfort.  Here are some tips to build your awareness during meditation, things to notice, without judging:

  • Be aware of yourself sitting.  Notice the parts of your body connected to the floor or the seat.
  • Sense your whole body, and allow yourself to relax.  Then notice any sensations arising: tingling, itching, heat, coldness… 
  • Be aware of your breath as it flows in and out of your nostrils, notice how it feels as you inhale and exhale, notice the sensations in the nostrils.  How does it feel?  Is it warm, cool, rough, smooth, free-flowing?  Is there any sensation in your throat as you breath? 
  • Be aware of any sounds around you, and just listen.  Be careful to not start thinking about the sounds, don't create any narrative around them.  Just think "that's a sound", tiny sound, a loud sound, a distant sound...
  • Be aware of any thoughts and emotions that arise.  Just notice without judgement, and then let them go and gently bring your mind back to your meditation.

 

It’s ok to fidget

It’s best to practice in stillness because moving about is distracting. The more you practice the easier stillness of body and mind will be. But when you are just getting started with meditation, stillness may be challenging. So feel free to move a bit if you need to until you find a comfortable seat you can stay in for the length of your practice.  Try this to help manage any uncomfortable sensations:

Before you move, first just notice what is happening in your body and how it feels.  And then imagine you are breathing into that discomfort.  See if this will help the sensation pass.  And if not, simply adjust your position for greater comfort. 

 

Focus your mind

Don’t feel like you have to clear your mind or stop your thoughts to meditate. The goal and the practice of meditation is not to clear your mind but to focus it on one single thing, on your present-moment experience. Here are some of the things you can focus your mind on:

  • Focus you mind on your breath, the inhale and exhale 
  • Focus on a repeating a mantra over and over  
  • Focus on the sounds around you
  • Focus on the physical sensations of sitting still

 

Thoughts are like clouds

As mentioned above, meditation does not mean that you need to clear your mind of all thoughts. The mind is constantly thinking, chattering, planning, commenting, creating, thoughts will naturally arise and your mind will wander while you are meditating. Part of the practice is to just notice that your mind has wandered - it helps you to notice how your mind works. Awareness is the first step to understanding. A tip to help you let go of the thoughts for the duration of your practice:

First notice that your mind has wandered. See your thoughts as if they were clouds and let your thoughts float gently by. And then come back to focusing on your meditation.

 

Just a few minutes is all you need

Any amount of time you can dedicate to meditation is perfect. A wonderful daily meditation will be 15-20 minutes long. But if you are new to meditation, start with just a few minutes, 5 minutes is a very do-able start for everyone, and work up from there. Before you begin, decide how long you want to practice. Setting a timer will ease your mind. If you use your phone to time, be sure to turn off all notifications to avoid distraction.

 

You don’t need silence in order to meditate

It’s ideal to be able to meditate in a place that is quiet and free from distractions, but you can meditate anywhere. Practice can also be focusing on of all the sounds and sensations of what is going on around you, just noticing and then letting them go.

 

An intention makes it more powerful and meaningful

Setting an intention is like planting a seed in your mind so that an idea or a goal or the way you want to show up for the day will take root and begin grow. It’s sort of like a mission statement for the day. Your intention might be as simple as being aware of the present moment. Or it could be something like:

What energy do you want to embody and project so you can move forward? 
What is the higher vibration that you want to focus on today?  
How do you want to feel today?

 

A dedicated place makes it easy and motivating to meditate,

One of the keys to a successful and consistent meditation practice is to have a dedicated space in your home that you can retreat to for practice.   A space that will enhance and inspire your practice, where everything you need is laid out and ready for you.  I have my meditation cushions set up in a window gable overlooking my garden, I use the window sill for an altar. It’s quiet and contained, and it’s my place to meditate. My mind and body are conditioned to instantly feel a sense of peace and calm to moment I sit on my cushions, and to look forward to the moments I've set aside for my meditation practice.

 

There is no right or wrong way to meditate

This is important to remember, for your confidence and sense of satisfaction.  There is no way you can fail if you show up to practice regularly. Try not to set specific goals for your practice, try not to control it. Just allow yourself to enjoy this little break from your busy active life, and give yourself permission to just go wherever your meditation takes you.  You will know you are doing it right by the way you feel once you have experimented and settled into a practice routine - better focus, better sleep, more joy and happiness, inspiration and ideas. 

 

HUM RESOURCES FOR YOUR PRACTICE:

3 Easy and Powerful Meditations to Try at Home

How to Choose a Meditation App

Simply Powerful: the SO HUM Meditation

Meditations on the 5 Senses

The Secret Power of Sanskrit Mantra


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