Meditation is a fairly broad term and for those who don’t regularly practice, it can seem intimidating. For those who do practice, we often become like evangelists, trying to get everyone around us to meditate because we’ve seen firsthand how amazing the benefits can be. But there’s good reason for that – even just a few minutes of meditation a day can make a huge difference in your overall well-being, including your anxiety, stress, focus, and happiness.
One of the most common responses I hear when talking to someone about meditation is that they can’t clear their mind for a long enough period of time to meditate. But you don’t actually have to do that to meditate. In fact, meditation, depending on what type you’re practicing, doesn’t always mean that you don’t think of anything for the time you’re meditating. Quite the opposite, really. Meditation, to me, is focused thought at times.
My No. 1 suggestion for someone who wants to try meditation but who hasn’t been successful or really ever tried, is to practice for three minutes every day. That’s it. Like anything, meditation takes practice. You don’t start off life by walking. You have to crawl first, and in some cases, roll around. So why do people think they can sit down and meditate for 30 minutes if they’ve never sat quietly in thought before?
When you’re first getting used to meditation, environment can make all the difference, so set the mood. Light incense or a nice candle, dim the lights a little, and sit or lie down in a relaxed position. I like to meditate around dusk because I enjoy the natural lighting from the sunset along with a candle or two, with incense wafting in the background. Then, set a timer on your phone and just sit in your quiet room for three minutes. Allow your mind to wander, acknowledge the thought, then release it. Did you make it through? Then you’ve meditated.
From there, try any of the below techniques to further your practice. You may enjoy all or just one of them, but I’m betting that at least one will get you into that meditative state that’s so good for humans.
Kung Fu breathing technique – This is not an official term, it’s just what I call this particular technique in my head. I learned it in my early twenties from my Kung Fu Sifu and I’ve practiced it ever since. This technique requires a breathing visualization that will help you maintain your focus on the direction of your breathing, thus getting you into a meditative state. Hence, focused thought.
Here’s the technique: Breathe in through your nose, and imagine your breath traveling into your body, up through your skull, down your spine all the way to your groin area, before making its way to your belly and traveling up and out of your mouth. The breathing should be slow and controlled, and you just repeat the cycle for the desired time period, focusing on your breath entering, cycling through, and leaving your body. You can imagine the breath in color or however appeals to you, but this is a great technique to try, especially if you’ve struggled to meditate in the past.
Shower meditation – This meditation technique is great for those with kids or busy households. Take a few minutes to meditate in the shower, using the water stream as your guide. Again, set the mood for yourself however you like. Once you’re relaxed in the shower, let the water beat down on your head or neck and shoulders. Close your eyes (or keep them open) and focus on what the water feels like as it hits your skin. From there you can keep meditating on the feel of the water and its flow, or you can incorporate one of the below techniques, the above breathing method, or any other method you’ve tried that works for you.
Active meditations – I love active meditations, especially for those who say they struggle with focus. When my mom died, I’d strum my guitar while sitting on the couch and I’d get into these crazy meditations that felt so good. I added a little percussion by tapping the body of my guitar, and it was a really nice active meditation that helped me a ton when I was heavily grieving. Another great choice is knitting. Choose an easy, repetitive pattern and let the yarn do the work for you as you focus on the stitches. You’ll fall into an active meditation in no time. Choose any repetitive, simple motion that appeals to you and you’ll be practicing an active meditation with ease. Household chores can be good for this as well.
Guided meditations – I wasn’t a huge fan of guided meditations until recently. I’m not sure why, because suddenly I think they’re great. Also, I’ve had the best experiences with guided meditations that I never would have had if I’d been left to my own devices. A guided meditation is like having a tour guide take you on a trip within your own mind. There are a ton available for free on YouTube. You could even record your own – be creative – and then play it back to yourself to guide yourself through a specific guided meditation. It totally works! I highly encourage you to try this one, it’s a really cool way of exploring your subconscious and an even better way to meditate with ease.
Open-eye meditation – I learned this technique in 2016 after my dad died to help me deal with my grief. It’s not for everyone, but this tactic is great in a clutch when you’re having a moment and need to take care of yourself in a public place. Basically, you meditate with your eyes open. Pick any meditation technique that tickles your fancy, and do it with your eyes open. If you’ve never tried this, give it a go! I like this technique and still practice it, as meditating with your eyes open opens you up to a whole different experience.
Manifestation meditation – What do you want to manifest in your life? Think about it. What does that look like in your mind’s eye? Now sit or lie down and get yourself relaxed. Breathe in and out slowly, and count to ten. Concentrate on your breathe. When you’re relaxed and feeling settled, picture the thing you want to manifest in your mind’s eye. Picture the scenario in which you have it – who’s there, what’s the weather like, how do you look? Picture the scenario as clearly as you can, and visualize yourself already being or doing or having the thing you’re trying to manifest. Play the scenario out and repeat it as many times in your head as you feel like. When you feel finished, count to ten and concentrate on your breathing again. Open your eyes.
Chakra meditation – I love playing with my chakras. I left this one for last because I realize this is a whole other thing for some people. But this is the chakra meditation I do, and it feels good. Plus, it might help you focus and meditate for a good chunk of time.
Set your mood, sit or lie down, and get cozy. Light up each chakra starting from the bottom up, spending time with each one, taking your time as you do so. Then I just zone out. If a thought pops into my head, I acknowledge it, and if it pertains to something I’m working on, I think about it and consider it, then make a note to myself to write it down when I’m finished meditating. If the thought’s random and seems like my mind’s wandering, I send it packing. I do this for a bit, then I focus on my chakras a little more – closing, opening, seeing the colors and feeling the area of the body each relates to. Consider it a check-in with yourself to see how things are going. Then, I close the lights of each chakra going in reverse order, from my crown on down, before finishing up my meditation.
I hope you try at least one of these techniques and that they work for you on your journey.