“Often, in our solitude, we can discover the miracles of life, if we take the time and risk to be alone until the glow of life presents itself. This is the reward of all meditation. It’s like taking the path of our aloneness deep enough through the woods so we can reach that unspoiled clearing.” -Mark Nepo
While I told myself that I would meditate every day in 2011, the reality is I’ve only meditated about four or five times in the past month. And it’s silly not to because it’s so plain and simple to see how it benefits me. When I meditate, things become clearer. My perspective changes, I visualize the gray matter in my brain expanding, and I take time to appreciate myself (which is especially important when I find myself stepping into the ol’ familiar emotional boxing ring where I let myself be pummeled by self-doubt, fear, and worry).
Since I imagine that meditation is difficult for many…as it is for me…I thought I would provide a beginner’s guide, inspired by the words of Mark Nepo.
Here are some steps you can take to begin a meditation practice:
1. Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or on a pillow. [For beginners: set your timer or alarm to “wake” you in 10 minutes.] Check to make sure your neck is elongated and your spine is straight, but comfortable.
2. Position your hands so that they rest on your knees, palms facing up.
3. Start to breathe slowly and deeply, feeling your rib cage expand and contract.
4. Check to make sure the muscles of your face are relaxed; lips can be parted.
5. As you continue to breathe, start repeating these words to yourself:
Breathe in relaxation, breathe out tension.
Breathe in clarity, breathe out cloudiness.
Breathe in peace, breathe out chaos.
Breathe in knowledge, breathe out ignorance.
Breathe in softness, breathe out hardness.
Breathe in patience, breathe out resentment.
Breathe in trust, breathe out jealousy.
Breathe in love, breathe out fear.
Repeat these words to yourself, adding on whatever feels right in that moment. Let the breath be your guide and be conscious of the moment when all outside distractions seem to disappear and the only noise you hear is the beating of your heart.