There are many practises across the world, which range from staring without blinking into the flame of a candle, concentrating only on the candle; staring at a dot on a piece of paper, concentrating only on the dot to concentrating on breathing, concentrating only on the breath.
Many people in today’s world do not breathe fully, they only use the top part of the lungs, which lifts the collar bones up and down and creates tension in the neck and shoulders. For this reason I favour teaching (and practising) meditation with the breath, to receive more oxygen into the blood stream to nourish the internal organs, the skin, teeth and hair; whilst maximising carbon dioxide removal from the body. Deep breathing also mobilises the ribs and releases tension from the back and shoulders.
Step 1 Environment
It may not always be possible to find yourself a dimly lit room, with rugs and meditation cushions available for use any time you like. But you may be able to find a quiet space somewhere, your bedroom, a disused office, your car? Wherever it is that you choose to meditate, you need to be sure that you will not be interrupted.
Step 2 Sitting position
Whether you are sitting on the floor, or on a chair, try to be comfortable with a very straight (but comfortable) spine. This is so that the diaphragm has plenty of room to move in your body, thus facilitating maximum benefits from the practise.
At this point, set a gentle alarm for 5 minutes.
Step 3 Find your focus
Meditation means to be clear in the mind but remaining fully aware, so having only 1 point of focus eliminates the ‘noise’ that we often have in our minds about our worries, our fears, our desires.
Close your eyes and take a moment to relax your shoulders and face, particularly the muscles around your jaw. Placing the tongue at the roof of the mouth can help. Close your eyes.
- Notice your breath as it travels in through the nostrils and down the back of the throat, gently lifting the collar bones. Notice the breath as it leaves your body, softening the collar bones and shoulders, releasing the neck.
- Notice the breath as it travels in through the nostrils and down the back of the throat, gently lifting the collar bones and widening the ribcage. Feel the ribcage widening. Notice the breath as it leaves your body, drawing the ribcage in, softening the collar bones and shoulders, releasing the neck.
- Notice the breath as it travels in through the nostrils and down the back of the throat, gently lifting the collar bones, widening the ribcage and expanding the belly. Feel the ribcage widening and the belly softly releasing. Notice the breath as it leaves your body, drawing the belly in, drawing the ribcage in, and softening the collar bones and shoulders, releasing the neck.
Step 4 Meditate
Follow the path of the breath into the belly and out of the belly, softly…softly. Keep your focus on the breath at all times.
Count how long it takes to inhale, count how long it takes to exhale.
Notice how the exhale is always longer than the inhale. As you continue to focus on the path of the breath, notice how the inhale and exhale get longer and longer, deeper and deeper.
Step 5 Return to consciousness
When the alarm sounds, take a moment to settle your breathing. Place your hands over your eyes and gently rub around the eye socket, the brow line and the cheekbones. Keep your eyes covered as your blink your eyes slowly open. When ready, take your hands away from your face.
Now, think. What is it that you plan to do next?
Once your mind is focussed on your next move, you are ready to get on with your day.
Notice the feeling of calmness and gentle rejuvenation.