I do not study meditation. I am not an expert. I'm someone just like you who always thought meditation was something I SHOULD do. Sit in stillness for twenty minutes? Impossible. Complicated. As far as the practice of meditation goes, we all have the capacity to trick it up until meditation becomes something too intimidating to try. To sit in stillness is difficult, but it is perfectly simple. Here’s what I do:
- I take five or six diaphragmatic breaths. That means when I inhale, my belly goes out. I imagine a waterwheel in my body. Inhale and exhale smoothly. Inhale, the breath travels up to my head; exhale, the breath spills down. Try to stay rhythmic and not to work too hard.
- Sit in a comfortable place. I like to sit on a straight-backed chair with my feet flat on the floor.
- Next, I imagine a bright light shining out from my eyes, my ears, my nose, my mouth. It’s important to relax your mouth. All sensations that I have experienced so far in the day are gone. I will them away. I send the light down my neck, both shoulders and arms and all fingers. I send the light down my spine to my legs, including my toes. The light ends in my chest cavity where I try to imagine a colorless, empty space. This last bit of imagination is impossible. Be okay with that and you're on your way.
- If you get an itch, feel free to scratch. This is meditation, not a trance.
- I focus on my “third eye” (the light between my eyes that I am able to see with my eyes closed). I repeat a mantra. Something simple like at ease or peace or the ambitious Who am I? I use the mantra to remind myself to let go of my thoughts. As a thought passes into my mind (and thoughts will pass through your mind), I encourage myself to draw the thought down to my heart. It helps to imagine a magnetic force from my heart that draws the thought downward.
- When the next thought pops in, I encourage myself again. Treat yourself kindly, like you would a small child. Say: It’s okay, you’ll get it next time or Try again.
The whole process takes me twenty minutes although I do not set a timer. My body seems to know when the twenty minutes is up. The first five minutes are for breathing and relaxing, the last fifteen minutes are when I encourage myself to meditate.
I try to find the stillness, but it is rare to succeed for more than a moment or two. But the only way to fail at meditation is to never try.