Meditation is an opportunity to observe your mind, the habits it tends to go into, and creating space to bring yourself back to the present moment. Let's break this down to easier terms.
There are many ways to sit in meditation, and being comfortable is a key aspect to keep the focus on observing your mind (and not the physical discomfort of sitting). You can sit on a chair, or on the floor with cushions. Whatever you choose, sit up tall with a straight spine. Roll back the shoulders and have your hands relaxed on top of your knees or your lap. Keep your chin level or slightly tucked in. If you are sitting on cushions, sit at the edge of the cushions as if you are sliding off of them. This will keep your hips higher than your knees and add more comfort to your sitting position.
HAVE AN ANCHOR
Your anchor is where your focus will be when you begin to meditate and a place to return to when your mind begins to wander. Your anchor can be your breath, a mantra, a word, or a visual object that you see when your eyes are closed. Keep your anchor simple, so that it will be easy to come back to time and time again.
THE WANDERING MIND
When you notice that your mind begins to wander, gently guide yourself back to your anchor. This trains your mind to return to the present moment instead of being pulled out of it indefinitely. f you are new to meditation, set a timer and start with 10 minutes of sitting. You can then increase up to 20 to 30 minutes once you are used to the practice.
NOTICE YOUR PATTERNS
After meditation, take note of your experience and the patterns that came up when you were pulled out of the present moment. Were your thoughts related to the past? The future? Daydreaming? Planning? Comparing? What came up for you when you experienced discomfort? Was it craving for something to improve the experience? Was it anger, frustration, blame? How about boredom, restlessness, or tiredness? Were you doubting the benefits of meditation? These are all typical responses to discomfort and known as the Five Hindrances to Meditation. When we recognize the moment our attention shifts into any of these hindrances, and we can come back to the breath (or our anchor), it gives pause to the "runaway train" of our minds. Now reflect on whether these same hindrances come up in your daily life. By paying attention to our speech, we can also become aware of our habits. In conversations, do you often tell stories (and live in the past)? Do you spend a big portion of your time planning your day, week, life and living in the future? Where do you think this habit comes from? Is it to feel safe? Is it to have control? Is it from fear? See where this path of self-inquiry takes you.
Tammy is a location independent yogi.