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  • Chloe Jay

How to meditate in 3 steps

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

Meditation has recently grown in popularity, penetrating the mainstream and becoming more attainable to us in the Western world.


Regardless of its newfound fame in the West, there are significant reservations for many when it comes to getting started.


Those that want to give it a go either don’t know how or assume that one must be dressed in an orange robe, sitting in a pretzel-like position, chanting ‘OHM’.


Luckily, I’ve put together a three-step guide on how to meditate - and it’s much easier than you might think (orange attire is optional). This is how I got into meditation and now it’s (mostly) a daily practice that has changed my life in only the best ways.


Preparation


Yoga prep must-haves:

  • A timer

  • Comfies - think jumper or blanket; as you meditate your body becomes relaxed causing your heart rate to decrease, and consequently your body temperature will drop.

  • Music (optional) - If music helps you focus, choose a sound bath, low-frequency music or nature sounds.

  • Candles or incense (optional)

  • A cushion - pop this under the sit bones if you’re sitting, this will give the diaphragm more space to breathe deeply.

Posture


For sitting


Sitting is the optimal position for meditation. You don’t have to commit to full lotus position but sitting either with legs crossed or the soles of the feet together works.


To promote deep breathing in meditation:

  • Sit on a cushion, chair, bed or against a wall

  • Legs are crossed or the soles of the feet together

  • Think about your sitting bones and imagine they are grounded downwards

  • Elongate the spine - imagine a piece of imaginary string is attached to the crown of the head and is pulling you upwards

  • Shrug the shoulders up towards the ears and then let go, releasing any tension

  • You can tuck the chin slightly under

  • Rest your hands either in your lap, on your knees or beside them

  • Once you feel comfortable, close the eyes


For laying down


If sitting isn't possible for you, laying down on your back is an alternative option.


Here’s how:

  • Lay on your back, with the spine grounded as much as possible

  • Rest the legs wide, toes turned outwards

  • Adjust the shoulders to make sure you feel comfortable

  • Arms rest by your sides with palms facing upwards

  • Gently close the eye

Step 1: Breathing


A great way to approach meditation is first through your breathing. This gives the mind something to focus on.


Begin by breathing in through the nostrils, directing the air into your belly first and then into the chest. This inhalation should be slow but deep.


Once your belly is inflated and you cannot take any more air in, pause for a moment, purse your lips slightly and let your breath slowly exit through the mouth until you feel empty. Controlling your breathing is key here. Your exhalations shouldn’t be harsh or sharp, but gentle and savoured.


Once you’ve found a rhythm to your breathing, you can bring your awareness to other aspects of the body. Think about how the breath is affecting the body; the rise and fall of the belly, the way the breath feels against the nostrils, its temperature, and what sensations it's having.


You might like to imagine that the breath is like the tide; being drawn in with each inhalation and out with each exhalation. Visualisation like this is effective in keeping you in the present moment - the now - where you need to be for meditation.


Step 2: Suppressing your thoughts is a no-no


As you’re focusing on your breath, you might notice that your mind starts to wander. One minute you’re concentrating on the rise and fall of the belly and the next you're thinking about last week’s job interview or that thing you need to do tomorrow.


You’ll notice that instead of focusing on what is happening in the present moment, the mind has drifted into the past or the future.


Don’t panic when your thoughts begin to wander, it’s a normal part of meditation. When we are learning how to meditate the aim shouldn’t be ‘no thinking’, but rather to focus the attention on one thing.


So, what should you do when thoughts pop into the mind whilst meditating? Notice your thought without frustration and simply wave it along, bringing your attention back to the present moment and your breathing.


Because you are not our thoughts, you can choose to witness them, you don’t need to entertain them. Instead, you register their existence and move on.


I like to think of our thoughts during meditation as gentle clouds, naturally floating through the sky. We notice them, even appreciate them but let them move on peacefully. Always bringing your attention back to the present.


While the idea of ‘non-thinking’ isn’t wrong in meditation, it’s not a state we should immediately strive for. This state is known as Dhyana (the settled mind), according to the Yoga Sutras and is the 7th limb of yoga. This state can often take years to master, so at this early stage of practice, thoughts are not a bad thing.


In fact, thoughts help us remember where we want to be - the present moment, each acting as a trigger to revert back to the here and now, a helpful reminder.


Step 3: Patience


All healthy habits take practice, patience and discipline. Mediation is no different and isn’t something that will be mastered overnight. But it’s important to remember that every time you meditate, the easier it gets.


Stick at it and you’ll be reaping the benefits, such as:

  • Regulation of emotions

  • Perspective

  • Relaxation

  • Promotion of creativity and focus

  • Reduction of pain

  • Better quality sleep

  • Improved cognitive function


All you need is to bring a level of accountability and self-discipline; wake up 15 minutes earlier, carve out that time in your day even when you don’t feel up to it. Meditation is an investment in yourself and your health - one that is worth dedicating your time and effort to.


Reflection


This part of mediation is often undervalued and overlooked - but very important nonetheless.


Dedicate a few minutes post-meditation to yourself, to reflect on your experience. Ask yourself internally “how do you feel?” Compare that to how you were feeling before meditation began. You might even like to jot this down in a journal or on your phone.


The importance of this post-meditation ritual is that you are gifting yourself the capacity to register and appreciate the effects it has had on you - both physically and mentally - I like to call it the post-meditation high.


By appreciating and adding value to these experiences, you slowly incorporate these habits into your routines, helping meditation become part of your day, just like brushing your teeth in the morning.


Final Thoughts


Meditation doesn't have to be the enigmatic, unattainable ritual that so many in the West perceive it to be. While the aftereffects sometimes feel otherworldly, there is a science to the steps of meditation: breathing, controlling the thoughts and patience.


Begin with a short amount of time, perhaps five minutes and slowly begin to increase as you feel more confident in your meditation. Be kind and gentle with yourself, be consistent, be persistent and enjoy the mind medicine of meditation.


Love and light,


Chloe


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