Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Meditation can change your life. You don’t need to meditate on a mountain or under a mango tree. You can meditate right in the middle of your busy, messy life, and it will help you feel calmer and happier.
Meditation is a practice of tuning out distractions, and tuning into being. It is a quiet place inside your head where you can go anytime. Once you get used to meditating, it is a safe haven, a shelter in a storm.
Do you enjoy the feeling of taking off in a plane? The plane starts to go faster and faster, pressing you into your seat. You lift off, and the buildings and cars start to get smaller and smaller. Soon you can see the landscape unfolding like a three dimensional map. Now you above the clouds. Your worries and troubles fall away, they stay down there on the ground. Welcome to meditation.
There are many different forms of meditation. I will describe how you can find a quiet place inside yourself where you can go to recharge your batteries and take a break from thoughts and lists. You don’t need to meditate for hours, a few minutes a day is enough to tap into a reservoir of peace and become much happier with your life.
Where to meditate
You can meditate anywhere you are sitting down. You don’t need to sit on the floor in a special position to meditate, and you don’t need to learn from a Buddhist monk. Everything you need is already in your reach.
You can meditate in a quiet room sitting in a chair or a comfortable armchair. You can even meditate in a train, bus or cab. You can meditate in a meeting, during a lecture or a concert. You can meditate at a library, a museum, or in church.
There are some things you can do to help you meditate.
Make a mediation corner: Find a place at home where you can sit quietly and peacefully without being interrupted. Clear some space and arrange what you will be looking at. You are creating a kind of dojo or practice space, so put a little effort into preparing, tidying and decorating it to your liking.
Make sure you are looking at something pleasant which puts you in a good frame of mind. It could be a view through a window, a photo of a beautiful place, a houseplant or a vase of flowers. This will help you quiet your thoughts.
It is important that you are not interrupted by people, so try to find a time and place where you will not be disturbed. Turn your phone on silent and don’t worry about missing emails or text messages.
If you like, you can put on some relaxing background music or use aromatherapy with a candle, incense or essential oils.
How to sit for meditation
Even though you don’t need to sit in a classic meditation position like the lotus position or kneeling Japanese style, there are some ways of sittting which make it easier to meditate.
Compressing your legs by crossing your ankles or knees makes you more aware of your body, rather than your thoughts, and also increases blood flow to your head, making you more clear headed and helping you feel the sensations inside your head.
Putting your fingertips or the palms of your hands together also helps for several reasons. It feels comforting, it makes you more aware of your body rather than your thoughts, and it stimulates your left brain and right brain to work together. Try different ways of crossing your legs and holding your hands together until you find some positions that feel comfortable and pleasant.
How to do nothing
Meditation is a little bit like fishing. Fishing is very different from our usual activities. Usually we spend a lot of time wanting, seeking out instant gratification, doing work, trying to avoid unpleasant feelings in our heads, and generally being very busy wanting and avoiding. Fishing is very different.
You have to spend lots of time in one spot doing nothing. In order to be able to do nothing, you have to stop wanting and avoiding. You are able to release yourself from the desire to get on with wanting or avoiding the next thing. Periods of mindfulness alternate with calm thinking. Sometimes the mind just stands still.
As you get used to meditation, you will see that you can meditate during spare moments in your day. Instead of getting bored and checking the news or social media, you can meditate for a few minutes, take a break and reconnect with your inner calm. Meditating during spare moments is a kind of mini-holiday which will make you happier, calmer and less likely to get angry and frustrated.