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Mindfulness | How To Meditate

How To Meditate

If you’re new to meditation and want to establish a daily sitting practice, start by committing to sit each day. Decide on then time, place and length of your practice.
“The great advantage of choosing one's breath as the object of mindfulness training is that breathing is an instinctive and effortless activity, something which we do as long as we are alive, so there is no need to strive hard to find the object of this practice.” - The Dalai Lama
  1. Every time you sit, set your intention. It is helpful to know and remind yourself why you want to meditate. Perhaps you want to experience more calm, less reactivity, more clarity, more focus, etc.
  2. Choose a time. Many find morning is best because it can set the tone for the day and allows for more spaciousness throughout the day. However, the best time of day is one that you can commit to on a regular basis.
  3. Choose a space. There is no perfect place; if you can, dedicate a quiet space for your daily sitting. If this isn’t possible, remember what Sharon Salzberg says: “You can meditate anywhere, anytime.”
  4. Choose a duration that is as long as you are able to commit to. It’s often good to start small; commit to 10 to 15 minutes a day and build from there when you feel ready. For many, even 10 to 15 minutes can seem long in the beginning, but that will likely change in time. With a committed sitting practice, you should begin to experience noticeable benefits (e.g., less reactivity and more calm).
  5. Set your posture. Sit in a chair or on a cushion or kneeling bench with your spine straight, but not rigid. If you’re in a chair, place your feet uncrossed and flat on the floor with your hands resting comfortably on your knees or in your lap. Let your eyes close if that’s comfortable; if not, cast your gaze downward two to three feet in front of you. Allow yourself to be relaxed, yet alert.
  6. Choose an object of meditation. These are useful objects for beginners:
    • The breath. Notice where you feel the breath most vividly, whether it’s feeling the breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils or feeling the rise and fall of your chest or abdomen. Then allow that the sensations of breathing in that part of the body to be the centre of your attention, your anchor for the practice.
    • Other bodily sensations. Feeling sensations as they arise (e.g., feeling the soles of your feet on the floor or the sensation of your hands touching).
    • Sounds. Sounds arising either inside your body or in the environment.

Whatever object you choose, stay with it for as long as you can. Even with this effort, you will notice your mind wandering. This is not a problem and it’s bound to happen a lot. As soon as you notice that your mind has wandered, simply bring your attention back to the object of meditation. This is part of the practice—going back again and again to the object of attention and each time we “wake up” from being lost in thought is a moment of mindfulness. Your intention and persistence are key ingredients for cultivating mindfulness.

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