Good Question 😀
In brief, meditation is when you take a moment to have purposeful action. What we typically think of as meditation is sitting in lotus pose, eyes closed, chanting “AUM/OM.” And this too is meditation, but anything done as a purposeful action with attention, present awareness, and non-judgemental acceptance – this is meditation. So you could very well be doing the dishes as a meditation, driving in traffic as a meditation, or being in a work conference as a meditation.
I wholeheartedly recommend making a deliberate sitting meditation practice a part of your everyday life. Without that foundational practice it becomes much easier to find ourselves lost when we think we are meditating during dishes or brushing our teeth. It is very much like building a muscle too. We may go to the gym to have a focused session on lifting weights and then be able to move a couch with ease whenever needed. But without that focused effort, the coach becomes a little heavier over time.
This is what it is like to meditate. We have to build our ability to have greater mental fortitude, the same as muscle strength. When our foundational practice subsides, so too does our mental fortitude.
Why Should I Meditate?
Again! Great Question 😀
In our lives today we are peppered beyond any feasible estimation with incessant noise. We have constant access to input and that input is accessible within a second of any desire/impulse to grab it. Not only do we have access, but also input is shoved into us anywhere and everywhere we go. We wake up and instinctively reach for our phone to check messages. We leave the TV on all day long even if we’re not watching it. We have music or talk radio playing any instant we are in the car. And any moment of potential inactivity is instantly soothed by the sweet blue screen of our phones (“Phew! Thank god, I almost had to sit with my own thoughts for a second.”).
This may sound harsh and I am sorry if it causes any offense to you. I really do not mean to hurt anyone with these words. But if you are feeling some sense of offense I encourage you to stop reading for a minute, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and really feel what this hurt is. Where is this hurt coming from? I mean, right now! <3
This is one of the things meditation can do for us. We allow our mind and body to have a brief pause from the incessant onslaught of input. True freedom is being able to be with ourselves in silence – and then over time being at peace with ourselves (nope..I’m not quite there yet :p That is definitely a lifelong practice).
Let’s Do a Quick Meditation
The basics of Mindfulness Meditation are to focus on an anchor, keep your attention on the anchor, and whenever you notice that your attention has drawn away from the anchor, you come back to the anchor. Have you ever heard the word “anchor” used that much at one time before!!! Oh man!
To put it more simply with the anchor being the breath: 1. Establish your Breath 2. Steady your focus on the Breath 3. Notice the mind wandering 4. Come back to the Breath
It really is this simple, but simple doesn’t mean easy 😉
So for this meditation we will have our breath as our anchor. You can just use your natural breath if you’d like, but also I find it helps to add a count to your breath if you are finding it difficult to stay with the breath and the mind is wandering off here and there.
- Find a comfortable seat on the floor or on the edge of a chair. What is most important here is that you are straight yet relaxed I like how I’ve heard it called once as “sitting with dignity.” So find your “sitting with dignity” posture.
- Close your eyes and breath through your nose deeply in your abdomen.
- Natural Breath OR Counted Breath: Inhale for 4 → Hold for 1 → Exhale for 6
- Whenever you notice your mind wandering, say to yourself “Thinking, Thinking, Thinking,” and come back to your breath.
NOTE: It is very important to remember that a core component to meditation is noticing with non-judgemental awareness and even better if you can do it with love and compassion 😉 So when you catch yourself thinking, feel good about yourself – this is meditation!!! Noticing in the present moment what is happening in the mind and body!!! Seriously – good job on noticing 😀
Featured photo by Dingzeyu Li