I have been getting a lot of questions from people wanting the specifics on “how to meditate.” Since there is a lot of different information, and different types of meditative activities, it can be difficult to determine what is best for you. In order to set a clear path, I want to explain our process to you and what it means.
Four Steps To Better Meditation
Meditation Is About Mindfulness. It is a practice by which you still the mind and focus completely internally.
Sifu says, “Still the mind and open the heart.”
This discipline can be difficult, however, it is extremely beneficial. I want to share what I have personally done for the last 25 years.
1. Straight Spine.
The reason for the straight line from the coccyx to the medulla oblongata is so that your energy can flow uninterrupted. Through this, you are able to breathe deeply and freely.
I am not picky about your seated position in terms of how to cross the legs, the only caveat would be that we do not recommend lying down. While the spine could be straight, you will have a tendency to fall asleep.
Finally, sitting upright allows you to keep the shoulders back and place the hands, palm up, in your lap.
2. Eyes Closed And Slightly Turned Up
The purpose here is to focus the energy towards the “third eye” and to give you a focal point. The eyes are SLIGHTLY upturned, to avoid falling asleep. When not done properly it can result in a headache or straining.
3. Take 7-12 Deep Breaths
Breathe deeply from the belly and the diaphragm. Avoid breathing from the chest.
4. Focus On The Breath
Once you have completed your 7-12 deep and purposeful breaths, simply let go and watch your breathing. Watching does not mean “control your breathing,” but simply watch the breath as if you were watching someone else breathe.
Do not try to control the duration of your inhalations or exhalations and do your best to keep other thoughts from entering your mind. When thoughts do come, simply let them go and return to your focus on the breath.
That is it.
A Discipline Must Be Achievable And Meaningful
The practice is really quite simple but the discipline is not easy. When you are focused on the breath, it must be at the expense of everything else. You must fight those urges to move, adjust, scratch, or anything else. Every time you give in to one of these desires, you are reinforcing that the body is in control.
It must be YOU and your MIND who are in control.
Ideally, you should be so engrossed in your breathing that you are not ignoring the itch, but unaware of it as all of your focus is on feeling your breathing.
Listen to your body. If you have never meditated before, set small reasonable goals. Otherwise, if you try to meditate for an hour you may be unsuccessful, which can be discouraging. However, with consistency, the time you will be able to spend in meditation will naturally increase.
As a practical example, I recently had someone come to me wishing to begin a meditation practice. This person had never done any meditation before and was unsure if he would be able to sit still for 5 minutes. I told him he was probably right. Instead, I instructed him to spend 4 times per day for a week, and focus on achieving 10 deep and intentional breaths, with proper position. This allowed for a challenging but attainable goal.
It would certainly be meaningful to do 10,000 push-ups per day. However, it is probably not doable. Conversely, it is likely doable to do 1 push-up per day, but not meaningful.
We must find the proper balance. In focusing on the 10 breaths, he was training his mind to be in control in small instances so that he could feel a measure of success. After a week, we added and began actually meditating. He has since surpassed his once impossible 5-minute goal!
I would encourage all of you to do the same especially if you have never meditated. When you practice your breathing, simply feel it.
Do not allow yourself to think of anything else and I encourage you to keep trying if you fail. Simply realize that your mind has strayed and bring it back to the breath.
I’m excited for you to begin to feel real, tangible effects as you incorporate this practice into your daily life. We will explore other techniques in the future, but these are your basics.
I look forward to hearing about your progress and struggles and as always, I’m here to answer any questions you may have. Happy sitting!