How to meditate
There is so much talk about meditation today that it’s difficult to know where to start. The buzzwords and terms like awareness, mindfulness and meditation to name a few, are being thrown around all over. Along with the self-questioning of whether or not you’re actually meditating, it can be difficult to get into the habit of incorporating meditation into your life.
Today, I am going to break down everything you need to know for you to utilise the power of connecting to yourself. To fully experience the benefits of meditation.
Your awareness is your perception of how conscious you are of yourself and your environment. What you’re feeling, what you’re doing, how you’re reacting. We often go day by day without being aware of how we act, disconnecting us from the body and living in a tunnel vision version of ourselves.
Emily Fletcher, the founder of Ziva meditation, has a definition of mindfulness that captures the meaning perfectly - the art of bringing your awareness into the present. Taking a step back, observing your surroundings, your actions and your emotions in the now.
There are different states of consciousness we as human beings experience on a daily basis, ranging from beta (awake), alpha (relaxation), theta (dreaming) and delta (sleeping). These states of consciousness are the different brainwaves your brain produces depending on which state you are in. Meditation is elevating your state of consciousness from beta to operate in alpha, theta or delta, depending on how deep into meditation you get.
Methods of meditation
The false tale of how you need to stop thinking in order to meditate is what puts people off. This is not the point of meditation and you shouldn't worry about trying to stop your thoughts. Our thoughts are involuntary, just like the beat of our hearts. And in my experience the more you tell yourself to not think, the more you will. There are a few techniques you can apply that will help you set up your meditation practice.
To help set up your practise follow some of these:
Use breathing techniques, such as alternate nostril breathing, to lower your heart rate, quieten the mind and relax.
Use your senses to be in the now. What can you hear? What can you feel? What can you taste?
Scan all the way down your body, from head to toe, focusing on every part of your body as you go. This is a method of using your awareness.
When meditating, especially for a beginner it’s helpful to have a single point to focus on. I call this your grounding base. If you can focus on your grounding base, letting any thought that is conjured pass by and return to your grounding base then you are well on your way to meditating.
A few simple grounding bases include:
Breath: there are two ways to use your breath as a grounding base, either count your breathing in your head, 1, 2, 1, 2. Or focus on the movement of your body, the rise and fall of your diaphragm. Alternatively, you can concentrate on the feel of the air moving in and out of your nostrils.
Mantra: pick a word, a mantra, something empowering and repeat the mantra in your head, slowly reducing the volume of it as you meditate.
Intention: set an intention for your practice. It could be to cultivate compassion, to forgive someone or to ground your emotions. Focusing on your intention throughout your meditation by envisioning what you want to get rid of and what you want to replace it with.
In order to begin meditating combine a method of setting up your meditation and then choose your grounding base to meditate upon. Any time you lose thought or get distracted, simply return to your grounding base and continue. Each meditation practice will be different, so it’s important not to compare one to the other. Being with an open mind, and allow yourself to be taken on the journey. No matter how difficult or easy it might be.