I started meditating long before I started practicng yoga. I was naturally drawn to it from a very young age and would practice meditation whenever I had the opportunity, often sitting quietly in my room or in the garden and finding my own ways to meditate. It didn't matter if I was doing it 'right or wrong', what mattered was how I felt afterwards. The more I meditated the more I fell in love with this practice and soon felt lost without this regular time to sit, reflect and switch off.
I am a firm believer that you can't 'teach' someone to meditate, you can merely offer guidance and then it is up to the individual to practice and find their own way. It is a personal practice and in my opinion there isn't necessarily one exercise or way to go about it that will suit everyone, there are many methods, techniques and approaches to meditating and it is important to find what works for YOU!
With this practice being very close to my heart I would love to offer you a few tips on how to get started. Anyone and everyone can benefit form these practices- you don't have to sit for hours on end or be a super yogi to enjoy it, you just need to have an open mind and to give it a go.
Below is a very simple starting point to get you on your way to the beauty that is meditation...
A Guide to Easy Meditation
Switch OFF! Turn everything off, phone on silent, TV off, anything that might ring, beep or buzz to notify you that you have something to do.. it can all wait!
Find a comfortable position. This doesn't have to be cross-legged in the 'meditation' lotus position but can be sitting on a chair, against a wall or even laying down, as long as you are comfortable and can sit still without moving or fidgeting.
If you struggle to sit in silence then playing soft instrumental music can help. Sometimes sitting in complete silence and not doing anything can be a real challenge at first, so if you need something in the background I highly recommend investing in some relaxing classical music (Ludovicio Einaudi is a personal favourite). However do try turning the music off and sitting in silence after a few goes as it will get easier and is often more powerful when practiced this way.
Sit comfortably either with your eyes closed or soft on a spot on the floor in front of you. If you would rather not close the eyes, let your gaze be soft and eye lids heavy, or rest your eyes on a the burning flame of a candle.
Become aware of the different parts of the body, notice how they are feeling, and let them relax. Ground down through your feet (or your back, legs & seat depending on how you are positioned), to feel grounded and centered.
Become aware of your breath. Begin to notice the flow of breath in and out of the body. Become aware of the quality of the breath, the texture of the breath, the temperature of your inhalations & exhalations.
Without trying to change or force anything, simply observe the breath and become aware of the subtle movements of the body, the belly and chest moving as your breathe. Allow all your attention and focus to be on your breath. If thoughts come, simply let them pass by like moving clouds, without attaching on to them or moving into a dialogue with them, just observe them and then let them go – keep coming back to the breath as an anchor point.
As you settle, start to think about lengthening your inhalations and exhalations, each round becoming a little fuller in the body and slower. Then begin counting the breath, keeping it nice and soft in the body with no force or feeling of strain.
Begin to inhale to the count of 4, exhaling to 4. Once this feels comfortable you may lengthen to counting up to 5, 6, and so on.
When the time feels right, slowly take your awareness back to the body, feeling all the parts of the body, notice how they are feeling.
It can sometimes be nice to sit quietly for a few moments after meditation, before jumping up and continuing with your day.
Practice this as often as you wish and for however long feels comfortable. Each time you practice it will feel easier and you will find that you will naturally be able to stay in meditation for longer. Play around with meditation at different times of the day and in different spaces to see what works best for you, and feel free to get creative and make it your own practice.
Interested in learning more about meditation? Why not come along on a retreat for a great start on this journey, the opportunity to learn new techinuqes and the chance to practice in the perfect setting.
Check out our upcoming retreats here!