To Meditate, Begin with the Breath

The idea of meditation is simple so it seems like an easy thing to do but because it is so “easy” it’s hard. Because of this simplicity of it, it makes it difficult to find time to incorporate it into our everyday busy lives, or so we think. In this world we can have constant stimulation, so we find it difficult to sit still with ourselves and our thoughts. But when we explore this stillness, is when we really find out about our true self. Through meditation we become aware of our thought patterns and habitual patterns of our ego.

I am often asked, how do you meditate? Well it all begins with the breath. Take a deep breath right now. How do you feel? Take another deep breath and stay with it not only with the inhalation but through the exhale as well. Do you feel that subtle shift of settling into yourself, into the here and now? Our breath is the one automatic action of the body that we can control. We can’t change our heartbeat (without physical exercise), we can’t change when we have to go to the bathroom, when we have to go we  have to go, but the breath we can change. We can hold our breath, we can change the depth of it, we can breath from our lungs or from the stomach. The breath part of the key to unlocking the inner workings of ourselves. 

To mediate in the traditional sense is to sit either in a chair, cross legged on a cushion or kneeling. The idea is to keep coming back to the present moment, to your breath. Sit as though you are sitting on a throne, tall and strong, opening your heart to receive whatever may come. Tilt your head to a humble bow to align your spine. You can have your eyes open to help keep you in the present moment or eyes closed to help block out the distractions of the visual world. Either is fine as I often do a combination of both.

Begin to breathe and focus on how it enters and exits your body... how does it feel to breathe? When a thought pops up, as it is bound to do so, simply label it as a thought or “thinking” and go back to the breath. You do not have to get mad or upset that you had thoughts, just be aware that you were thinking and go back to the breath. This is the practice of meditation, coming back to the present moment and letting go of the thoughts that arise. I recommend at least meditating for 12 minutes a day as this is the time it takes for you to reach a meditative state.

A key aspect to meditation and to lift ourselves further up is to make sure we are coming from a stable foundation, a grounded place. When we spend time in meditation and getting acquainted with our minds, we have a tendency to get stuck up there.  In today’s society we often put emphasis on thoughts and ideas but sometimes we can get too far lost in our own minds. Grounding is bringing ourselves back to earth, bringing us back to feeling at home in the density of this physical reality. The breath is a great tool accessible to everyone that can help ground us. Focusing on your breathing is only one way to establish a connection with mother earth. 

Another form of the traditional meditation is contemplative meditation. Instead of focusing on the breath, you can focus on a thought, event, idea etc that you wish to gain more insight on or reflect upon. When we meditate, we open up ourselves to new perspectives and can enhance our problem solving capabilities as well as train ourselves to remain calm in times of stress or anxiety. We can focus on a conversation that we had with a coworker that troubled us, or focus on an upcoming presentation that is giving us anxiety. When we take the time and give space to those thoughts, we can change the energy around them, and ultimately change how we react in/to those situations. 

As you sit in meditation, you will begin to notice the thoughts your mind has and the more you sit the more you will begin to see the patterns. The more you see the patterns the more you will be able to break the cycle. When we meditate we become attuned with our intuition by living in the present moment and the more we gain the ability to weed out the egoic thoughts that pull us out of alignment. The time it takes to practice mediation is much less than the time it takes to heal relationships, repair a poor decision or pick yourself up after an emotional breakdown. First heal the relationship with yourself and the rest will follow.

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