“If you try to follow your breath for a while, it will ground you in relative silence.” – Anne Lamont, author
“You don’t have to believe in meditation for it to work; you just have to take the time to do it.”
– Russell Simmons, Run DMC front man and media mogul
Meditation is a simple practice. Just sit, and breathe.
When’s the last time you allowed yourself to do nothing but be? Acknowledging the fact that you are here, alive, and aware? If it’s been a while, can you spare a few minutes? All you have to do is sit, and breathe.
For something so simple, it comes with a host of benefits, including:
- Optimal brain function
- Decreased stress
- Increased energy and health
- Improved focus
- Better relationships
Anyone can do it, and it doesn’t require a lot of time. It’s also incredibly powerful. In fact, it’s had such a big impact on my life that I haven’t missed a day in almost three years.
Whether for thirty seconds, a few minutes, or even a half hour, find some time tomorrow (or today!) to give yourself the gift of presence.
Sit. And breathe.
A Simple Breath Focused Meditation
- Create the time and space. Schedule or block-off time when you won’t be distracted. Set a timer for the amount of time you want to meditate, so you’re not worrying about the clock while you’re practicing.
- Sit comfortably and “with dignity.” Find a comfortable place to take a seat. Sit with your spine straight, shoulders back and relaxed. Place your hands on your legs, or gently folded in your lap. You want to be comfortable enough to remain seated for the length of your meditation, but not so comfortable that you’re tempted to fall asleep. It can help to think about sitting with dignity. Jon Kabat-Zinn explains:
“When I use the word ‘dignity’ in teaching situations, as in ‘Sit in a way that embodies dignity,’ everybody immediately adjusts their posture to sit up straighter. But they don’t stiffen. Faces relax, shoulders drop, head, neck, and back come into easy alignment. The spine rises out of the pelvis with energy. Sometimes people tend to sit forward, away from the backs of their chairs, more autonomously. Everybody seems to instantly know that inner feeling of dignity and how to embody it.”
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax. Inhale slowly through your nose and deep into your belly. Pause for a moment before exhaling. Repeat several times, letting go of any expectations. As the breath lengthens and the breathing rate slows, mental activity decreases.
- Breathe through your nose at a normal, relaxed pace. Allow your body to breathe naturally now that you’re relaxed. Begin simply observing your breath as it moves in, and out. In, and out.
- Focus on your breath. Continue to breathe in, and out. Watch your breath as it comes into and out of your body. Notice the feeling of cool air on your nostrils when you breathe in, and how the air is warmer when you breathe out. Feel your lungs as they expand and contract. Don’t worry about trying to stop other thoughts from occurring. Instead, when you notice that your mind is wandering, gently bring it back.
- When the timer goes off, spend a few moments relaxing. When your meditation is over, take a moment to rest. Allow your body to move slowly back towards an alert state before you jump into the rest of your day.
Developing a Practice
Even a single meditation can leave you feeling calm and refreshed, but the real power comes from maintaining a regular practice. Prioritize meditating for a little bit every day, rather than for a large chunk of time once a week. The key is consistency; create a ritual and commit to it 100%
Think about it as an investment; contribute one or five or twenty minutes to meditating, and you’ll earn big dividends. The time invested more than pays for itself as you gain mental and emotional clarity, better health, and increased productivity.
Inspired to start a practice? I’d love to support you. Leave a comment below or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.