Friday, August 20, 2010

Day One: Meditation Challenge {five steps to get started}

Zafu Meditation Cushion by OmMama on Esty
It's Day One of our fourteen day meditation challenge.  You're probably wondering where to begin or asking yourself, "how will I ever be able to sit still?" Here are five tips to help you get started.

The first step in a successful meditation practice is setting up space.  Choose a room or even just a corner that doesn't have a lot of traffic.  Clear out the clutter.  This is your sacred space and it should support your practice.

Consider adding a low table (or even a TV tray covered with a pretty cloth) to use for holding items that symbolize qualities you would like to embody through your meditation.  My table holds lavender (for calming), a candle (for insight), incense (as an offering of gratitude), and little stones balanced in a tower (for equanimity).  

Next, choose a cushion or pillow.  A couch cushion works just fine but as you continue to practice you might consider an organic buckwheat zafu like the one pictured above.  

The second step in a successful practice is choosing a good time to sit.  I prefer the mornings -- this helps me bring some of the stillness from my zafu into my day. Sitting at the same time each day will help your body get into a natural rhythm.

Step three is arriving on your cushion.  Wear comfortable clothes.  Cross your legs comfortably in front of you and sit with dignity.  (It's not necessary to sit in lotus.Relax your shoulders.  Place your hands gently on your thighs or consider holding them in a mudra.  Take a few moments to bring all of your awareness to this moment.  Feel your body settling in.  Fully arriving on your pillow will help your mind settle and make it easier to sit still.

Step four is noticing your breath.  Our breath connects us to each moment and acts as our anchor on (and off) the pillow.  Breathe normally through your nose and notice the sensation in your nostrils.  Relax your eyes and focus gently downward and a few feet in front of you.  

Step five is noticing what you feel.  Becoming aware of your experience (whatever that is) is the most important thing.  Hold yourself in compassion with non-judgmental acceptance.  As your thoughts arise, try watching them rather than letting your mind drift away with them.  When you realize that your mind has wandered, bring your focus back to your breath again.  The purpose is just to hold your seat and be present with whatever arises.

Try sitting for five or ten minutes the first day.  Remember that meditation is not about achieving a blissful, zoned-out state.  It's about becoming grounded in the moment and aware of your thoughts and feelings.  It's about learning to face whatever comes your way -- both in your mind and in your life.

When you go about your day, keep "holding your seat."  Bring your awareness back to your breath throughout the day.  For more information on starting a sitting practice, click here.  If you would like to sign up for our 14 Day Meditation challenge, click hereIf you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

Much love & light to all!
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