The reasons for wanting to take up meditation are endless: the desire to reconnect with oneself, to control one’s stress or anxiety, to learn to live better in the present moment… There are also a series of benefits for the body such as improved heart health or better pain management. Despite this, for some it is not easy to incorporate meditation into their daily routine. Yes, the days are only 24 hours and taking time to “do nothing” is not necessarily well seen in our society where productivity and consumption are the key words. Here is a short guide to discover how to meditate on a daily basis.
Meditation is not an activity like any other, it is more like a lifestyle. Indeed, a session once or twice a month is unlikely to revolutionize your life. To feel all the benefits, it is therefore necessary to integrate meditation into your daily routine without expecting too much. It is indeed not a magic recipe. The changes are subtle and should be welcomed with gratitude and humility.
To get you started, here are some tips to follow.
To incorporate meditation into your lifestyle, regularity is key. And to make it a real date with yourself, it is important to find the perfect moment for yourself. No need to want to meditate at all costs in the morning or before going to bed if it is not in line with your lifestyle. So look to find that little window of time that works for you.
As Marianne Leenart, mindfulness meditation teacher and author of Passage ! My anti-cliché meditation book :
“The hardest thing is not to start, but to continue. Meditation is mental health. For this to work, you have to find a regularity. This regularity, many manage to find it for the sport, the practice of an instrument… For the meditation, it is often more difficult and it is not surprising.
It’s not because you’re lazy, crap or the king of procrastination, it’s just that meditation is quite a confrontational process and goes against everything we’ve learned so far. . All our life we have been told that we had to run, accomplish lots of things and then we are taught to take time to slow down, do nothing, not speak, achieve nothing, produce nothing. There is an inner frenzy that drives us to always be on the move and this is about going against the tide.”
Whether you live alone, as a couple, with a roommate or with your family, finding your place of meditation is an essential step. Depending on your situation, the stakes will not be the same. Very often, it will be a question of finding the quietest place possible. Even if you are quiet there, avoid the cellar, the garden in the middle of winter or any other hostile place. It is indeed important that this place is for you a haven of peace towards which you will have pleasure to turn.
For this, you can opt for a specific layout. Installing cushions, a candle or a plant can allow you to make this small space more conducive to relaxation and disconnection.
Before settling in, be sure to opt for a pleasant outfit. You can also start with some stretching to ensure maximum comfort during your meditation, even if it does not last very long.
It is in this perspective that yoga was born. The idea was to create a practice that both softens the body and tones it up so that you can stay for long hours in a meditation position without feeling any discomfort. But since you’re not a Buddhist monk, a simple stretch will do just fine!
How to choose your position to meditate? It’s not just the lotus position in life. Indeed, the latter requires a certain flexibility and can be uncomfortable in the long run, even when using a zafu (meditation cushion). However, the most important thing when you meditate is to feel good.
We therefore choose the position that suits us best. The important thing is to keep a straight back to facilitate good breathing. Here is the list of recommended positions:
- The lotus position
- The half lotus
- The Burmese position
- the seiza (on a cushion or bench)
- Sitting in a chair
- While walking
For more details on each position, see our article Meditation positions: putting an end to the myth of the lotus.
Meditate with your eyes open or closed?
It is up to the meditator to decide whether he prefers to meditate with his eyes open or closed. Both alternatives are quite valid and bring their share of advantages and disadvantages.
Meditating with your eyes closed is easier for many people. This makes it easier to stay focused on your practice and limit outside distractions. However, it can also be the royal road to pure and simple falling asleep.
On the other hand, meditating with open eyes allows you to stay more vigilant and to connect your practice more to real life. A good way to integrate meditation into your overall lifestyle. Nevertheless, our mind, subjected to visual stimuli, will have to manage a large amount of information which can disturb the practice of certain meditators.
The important thing to make meditation an appointment is to move forward step by step. There is no point in restricting oneself to too long daily sessions if it is to give up after a week.
What is important is the regularity, not the quantity, recalls Marianne Leenart. Many people get started by setting unattainable goals. If you start with hour-long sessions, it’s hard to fit meditation into your daily routine. As a result, you risk becoming discouraged. It is therefore better to bet on a shorter practice, ten or fifteen minutes a day for example.
Don’t be judgmental
This is the basics of meditation. When you meditate, the goal is not to empty your mind as some may think. It’s really about learning to control your mind. The objective is to focus his attention on the object of his choice (breathing, candle, music, mantra…). Since the brain has no “off” button, it is impossible to avoid the stream of thoughts that will inevitably assail you. The whole thing is to learn to let them slide without judgment until they vanish and refocus your attention on the chosen object.
To meditate is to find a point of reference towards which to turn one’s attention as soon as a thought takes us towards the past or the future. Depending on the type of meditation you opt for, you can turn to your breath, a mental image or a mantra…
Focusing your mind on your breath is a universal meditation technique. It is very practical because it can be practiced anywhere and anytime. It’s about following the back and forth of your breathing, without changing its depth or rhythm. The most important thing is not to judge this breath, but simply to use it as a beacon in the midst of the torment of your mind.
For this, you can dwell on the movement of your abdomen inflating and deflating, on the path of the air which enters through the nostrils to the lungs or on the sensations it causes (fresh air in the inhales, exhales hot air…)
Another meditation tool well known to practitioners: visualization. The goal is to create a fictional place where you feel good. It can be inspired by a place we already know, but must be able to surprise us and above all not get us into counter-productive ruminations.
During meditation, you can explore this unique place that belongs only to you. An enchanting garden, a deserted beach, the top of a mountain or a cozy living room will thus become your new refuges. At each visit, you will be able to discover the new secrets of this place by paying attention to your physical sensations: warmth of a chimney fire, summer breeze on your face, etc.
How to meditate with a mantra? In Buddhist meditation, the use of a mantra is common. It is a short formula, of one or more syllables, which is repeated in a loop on a particular rhythm. This repetition effect allows you to focus your attention during your meditation session.
Traditionally, the mantra is repeated 108 times. It is the number of pearls of malaise, the bracelets used by Buddhist monks during their meditations. There are various mantras which each, by the vibration which it produces when they are emitted, have a particular interest. The best known is of course the sound “Om” which unblocks the throat chakra and improves our communication skills.
Meditation no longer holds any secrets for you. If you want to discover exercises and professional advice on the subject, go to the page of our special file right here.
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Place, time, position, techniques: discover how to meditate on a daily basis
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