Every time I stop my practice of sitting each morning for 20 minutes and go back to it I am reminded why I do it at all. Meditation for me is to stop the constant story that is going on in my head and to get a handle on the emotional roller coaster that hums through my system. I don't ascribe to any spiritual practice, but I recognize that having a practice of some sort is integral to the human experience. We can't go go go all the time! And meditation, for me, recharges my system and my mind in a way that nothing else does.
How I Meditate/Sit:
- I have a big cozy chair in my office. I also have a mediation platform in our sun porch, but most frequently you can find me in my chair. I am not a purist when it comes to sitting. I don't sit in a lotus position, on a cushion, or on the floor. I sit in a chair that is comfortable with my legs crossed.
- I set my iPhone timer for 15-20 minutes with crickets as the alarm. I have also used a digital kitchen timer and that works just fine too.
- I close my eyes and place my hands folded into each other on my lap. My posture is pretty good, head not forward, breathing calm and gentle.
- For the first moments I name my breathing. All that means is that when I am breathing in I say to myself, "in" and when I am breathing out I say "out". This helps me to concentrate and become focused just on my breathing.
- After I have gotten comfortable with my breathing and have settled a bit I just sit. Thoughts come and go and I let them drift in and out. If I find myself getting attached to a story (planning a party, redecorating a room, writing a letter in my head, etc.) I go back to naming my breathing.
- That's it. I do that for 20 minutes. When the alarm chirps. I turn it off and sit for just a second in silence with my eyes open to readjust.
So, if it is this simple why do it? For me the answer is that I am not the stories or the emotions that pulse through my mind and body - I am more than that. Helping myself not get caught up in those stories helps me throughout the day. I am calmer, my day is easier, and my heart is clearer when I am dealing with people and situations. I am my best self.
It is so easy to just ping from one thing to the next like a pinball, but setting aside the 20 minutes to be just with myself stops that in its tracks. It centers me in no other way. I have also successfully lowered my blood pressure, lessened skin irritations that are often caused by stress, and been able to unravel some of the strong emotions that come flooding through and get tied up inside. I have also been able to make clearer decisions in my personal and business life - that is enough reason to give it a try!
If you are interested in trying meditation I recommend reading Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chrodon or Sharon Salzberg. You do not have to be Buddhist to find comfort in silence. My first introduction was being taught by Catholic Nuns... that's right, so many years ago. More on that another time! Until then, let me know if you try meditation, have questions or would like to know anything more about how to meditate.