Some Help with a Meditation Practice at Home

by Mary - Cameron Seniors Friday Yoga Instructor

meditationMeditation is an opportunity to reclaim some time for yourself.  Give yourself permission to sit  and be still. Although you think you are doing nothing you are engaged in a practice that has many benefits! Meditation gives your body and your mind an opportunity to stop and relax. It allows your central nervous system to recharge itself from flight and fight to rest and reset. Watching your thoughts gives you an opportunity to notice what you say to yourself and to observe them without reacting to them. And meditation takes focus & concentration. So much for doing nothing!

There are a few things you can do to set yourself up for a satisfying meditation experience:

1. Create a "space" for your meditation - not only as a transition from your activities, but something that speaks to you about calm, inspiration, wisdom. Some suggestions for your space: a candle that you light, a flower in a vase, a picture of someone that inspires you, a shawl to drape over your shoulders. An essential oil in a mister or one you can dab on your wrists . . . of lavender, orange, rose, bergamot. . . a scent that will welcome you back to your practice.  A book of inspiration, prayer or quotes to be used at the beginning or at the closure of your practice.

2. Set up a place where you can sit - on a chair or on the floor. You should feel comfortable. If your hips are tight, or your knees are reaching towards your chin, when you sit on the floor, choose the chair. You will enjoy the experience so much more. Sit away from the back of it so your spine is straight. If you have chosen the floor, add a thick cushion to elevate your pelvis/ hips. No pain should be present. Keep modifying until you are pain-free.

3. Have a timer with you so you can relax and not bother about the time. If you are new to the experience start with 5 minutes. Finish before you tire or get bored or your mind starts to wander. A rewarding experiencing will encourge you to come back.

4. You could choose at this time, read something to create a positive or calming intention.

5. Take three full breaths. Let your diaphram expand on the inhalation and contract on the exhalation. Then allow your breath to regain its natural rhythm.

6. Your back is comfortably upright. Ears are over your shoulder tops, shoulders floating over your hips, and elbows by your side. Your hands can rest on your thighs: palms up or down.

7. Start by simply noticing your breath. After a moment or two you notice that your mind is busy thinking, remembering, or creating a to-do list. This is your mind cycling through its dialogue. It wants to recapture your attention. And the fact that you noticed is a great start!! Because it tells you you are aware of all that extraneous thinking. Now you have power over the thinking and you can redirect your awareness back to simply noticing your breath.

8. A thought intrudes again... Label it "thinking" and come back to observing the breath.

9. You can add noticing the inhalation.

10.  You can add watching the exhalation as well. Do whatever feels just right.

11.  If you want to add another dimension, after a few cycles of breathing, on your next inhalation say to yourself "I am" and on your exhale "peace.” This word can be changed to whatever it is you would like to feel more of.

12.  When the timer goes off take a nice mindful breath. Sit for a moment and feel yourself relax.

13.  You could finish your practice by reading something positive or inspiring.

14.  Offer a moment of gratitude.

A meditation practice is exactly that . . .a practice. Be kind to yourself. It takes time to create a new habit. Set aside a time of day that you can work with. Starting your day with meditation can help to create an intention for the rest of the day or at the end to offer gratitude for what was.

"Every moment invites us to live gratefully through the full capacity of our aliveness. When we awaken to the wonder and suprise imbued in the "now" of each breath, we receive the ever present gifts of joy, love and belonging".

Source:  A Network for Grateful Living August 27, 2019

Mary Vickars
Ananda Yoga & Meditation Teacher
April 2020