For some people, that word evokes a sense of calm, tranquility, and ease. But for most of us, that word may carry a slight (or not-so-slight) feeling of hesitation, apprehension, or even anxiety.
Physically, it may be the easiest thing we can do.
Mentally, maybe the most challenging.
Coming firsthand from someone who struggled with butterfly thoughts, a feeling of impatience or even the slight, nagging idea that meditation was like doing the dishes - something I just “had to do… I guess”.
This feeling was especially heavy when I began to deepen my physical, asana yoga practice. I had this nagging guilt that I wasn’t “being a good yogi” because I just didn’t have a strong will to sit and meditate regularly.
Wanna know the secret? You just gotta… do it.
Here are three simple ways to start your meditation practice, RIGHT NOW.
1. Make the time.
The best thing about yoga is that it’s there whenever you're ready.
The moment you step onto the mat, find a meditative seat, or simply close your eyes and observe your breaths, yoga has begun. Yoga was there, patiently waiting with open arms. All you have to do is show up for yourself!
Start with 5 minutes.
Set a timer on your phone if you are in a rush or need a reminder to tell you when to be done.
If you’re a planner, set your alarm for five minutes earlier than usual and use that sacred time when you first open your eyes to meditate. This is ideal because meditation works best when your mind is floating between the awake and dreaming state (AKA conscious and subconscious), like when you first open your eyes in the morning.
And if you’re not a planner…
I invite you to try it, right now!
Find a seat somewhere comfortable, but not overly indulgent. It’s recommended that you meditate without a backrest, because we naturally slouch into them and lose posture. When we lose posture, our spine is not lengthened and our energy cannot flow from the bottom up as naturally.
Many yogis use meditation cushions, but I personally just use a pillow and sit on the floor in my living room or on my porch. Easy-peasy!
Sit comfortably with your legs crossed and lengthen your spine up tall, as if you’re reaching the crown of your head to the sky. Roll your shoulders down and back, and allow your eyes to close gently.
Whether you’re just beginning your yoga practice or you’re a seasoned practitioner, you’ve likely observed how much emphasis is placed on breath.
This is for a reason - your breath is actually a limb of yoga, all by itself! (For further elaboration, stay tuned for an upcoming video about the 8 Limbs of Yoga)
From your meditative seat, allow your awareness to come to your breath.
Notice yourself breathe, in and out, until it becomes second nature and you feel as if you are flowing with your breath.
If your mind begins to wander, just come back to this space.
There’s no need to beat yourself up or “force” thoughts out of your head. That often ends up becoming far more distracting - and frustrating - than the thought was in the first place!
3. Become the Observer.
Though it sounds complex and perhaps a little vague, this stage is actually just the natural progression of your state of consciousness once you’ve truly come to a quiet headspace through focus on your breath.
Allow yourself to detach from physical sensations (“ow, my butt kind of hurts”, “I want coffee”, “A bug just landed on my forehead”… lol).
With your eyes closed, bring your gaze to the space right between your eyebrows. This is called your third eye, and is one of your Chakras, or spinning energetic centers in your body.
(See my video “What Are Chakras?" for more description)
Allow yourself to just be.
Be with your breath, your third eye space, or whatever best grounds you fully into the present moment.
And in just being, you may begin to notice that you feel less entangled in your physical environment and thoughts than you were before.
As you drift away from that, you are Becoming the Observer.
You are no longer a body, or a college student, or a mother, or in a hurry.
You are far bigger than that.
It is all flowing past you, but it is not you.
If you feel yourself come into this state, you are meditating.
Meditation is challenging, and gets easier with practice and presence. If you aren’t able to feel a sense of peace and calm your first time, don’t worry - I didn’t either! Just like our physical yoga practice, it simply grows with time and dedication of mind, body, and spirit.
You can bring this into your life in so many different ways.
You can meditate for two minutes.
You can meditate while you’re hiking in the forest, or listening to your favorite song.
You can meditate for an hour.
You can meditate on your lunch break, by taking a few spare moments to close your eyes, breathe, and be present in the moment.
Once you begin your meditation practice, don’t be surprised if you find yourself slipping into this state more often, even when you’re not consciously “trying” to.
You can take this simple guide and make it your own. Let it suit you. It’s your practice, after all.
Congratulations on showing up for yourself. Simply by taking the time to read this, you have begun the practice.
You have - and are - living your yoga, right now.
(P.S. Stay tuned for a blog post about the multitude of benefits that come from establishing a regular meditation practice!)