A Few Tips on How to Meditate

A girl meditating

I’ve been spotty on how often I meditate, but I know when I do meditate, I function much better the next day. There are so many different ways to meditate, and in some ways that makes it easier to practice. You can try a few different ways to find what works for you, and if you feel the desire to change things up a little, there are plenty of new things to try.

Warm Your Body Up First
One of the most important things for me is what I do before I meditate. I walk around my house for a few minutes, stretching my shoulder blades back, and rotating my arms to loosen my muscles. Then I stretch as tall as I can, reaching my hands to the ceiling. I bend down and stretch as much as I comfortably can towards the floor.

Stretching and walking help get my blood flowing and ease some of the tension in my body. If I try to sit and meditate “cold,” I find it much more difficult to focus. A yoga teacher once told me that one reason yoga was invented was to help people strengthen their bodies so they could comfortably sit for long periods of time in meditation.

Maintain a Relaxed Posture
I sit cross-legged on the floor with my back lightly resting on my bed. I place my hands palm up on my knees, but you can put your hands and arms anyway that feels comfortable. I sit as straight and tall as I comfortably can, and pull my belly button in so my back doesn’t have to work as hard.

Breath slowly and deeply
I breathe as slowly and deeply as I can. I imagine my throat opening as I inhale and lift my rib cage. When I exhale, I let my rib cage fall and pull my belly button in even more, pushing every last bit of breath out so that I can take an even deeper, fuller in-breath.

Repeat a Mantra (or two)
A mantra is a repeated word or phrase that can help you focus your mind. While I’m inhaling, I think, “I’m inhaling.” While I’m exhaling, I think, “I’m exhaling,” and I count the breaths. I think, “I’m inhaling, I’m exhaling, one, I’m inhaling, I’m exhaling, two,” etc. until I get to 10. If you lose track of the counting, start over at one. After that I think, “one” every time I inhale or exhale.

The inhaling, exhaling, and counting thoughts help me focus on what I am doing in the moment. Repeating “one” over and over gives my mind something boring to think about so my mind is busy but relaxed. When other thoughts or feelings come up, I notice them, and then I go back to thinking, “one.”

I try to remember that there is just one universe, and we are all part of it. I try to think of myself as one whole being, not the fractured thoughts and worries that I have.

While I sit thinking “one” over and over and breathing slowly and deeply, I also imagine a rope runs through the crown of my head and gently pulls my spine taller and straighter.

I usually meditate for 20-30 minutes at night. If you’re just starting out at meditating, I’d suggest trying just one focusing practice. You can meditate for as little as two to five minutes when you first start. It’s less important how long it is than that you take a few minutes away from the busyness of your day and just let your body and mind relax. It’s an important practice to let everything else wait just a few minutes and remember that nothing catastrophic happens when you take short breaks for yourself.

Do you meditate? How do you help yourself relax and focus on the present moment?

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3 thoughts on “A Few Tips on How to Meditate

  1. AliJayne February 25, 2014 at 4:38 pm Reply

    This was wonderful, thank you for sharing.
    I’m impressed that you meditate for 20-30 minutes a day, I aspire to get there and am getting close with 15-20 minutes each day :)
    This month I am completing a meditation challenge (tuja wellness 30 day meditation challenge) and really love the encouragement for daily practice.
    My favourite way to “bring myself back” to focusing on my breathing is also to use a mantra, I usually use “I AM” on the inhale, and then whatever I want to feel that day on the exhale – words like: “love, confident, empowered, beautiful, joyful, etc…” It helps me a lot.
    I’ve also just started using Hand Mudras to try to enhance my meditation “purpose”, and I’m enjoying those too!
    I love that as I’m thinking more about meditation this post appeared! Thank you for reinforcing that I’m on the right path!
    With Love,
    Ali

    • Frankie Laursen February 26, 2014 at 10:23 am Reply

      Thank you so much for sharing some of your practices. I haven’t really tried different hand mudras, Are any in particular more helpful for you? Sometimes when I’m meditating, I’ll think about all the other people in the world who are meditating at the same time.

      • AliJayne February 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm

        Thanks Frankie :)
        Wow! That’s a wonderful thing to think about, I’m going to imagine that too today!
        I just bought the book Mudras Yoga in Your Hands (Gurtrud Hirschi) and my favourite so far is a detox and digestion kind of mudra called “pushan mudra” the right hand is the tips of the thumb, index finger & middle finger are touching the little finger and ring finger extended, and the Left hand are the tips of the thumb, middle and ring finger touching with the index and little finger extended.
        Also the “Pran (life) mudra” which helps assertiveness, self-confidence, strength, clarity, courage etc… and Both hands have the thumb touching the little and ring finger with the index and middle fingers straight.
        They both feel good to me right now, but there are about 100 in the book and I’m trying to use the ones that seem to be what I “need” at the time.
        With love,
        Ali.x

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