I was first introduced to meditation 20 years ago in College by my college professor Dr. Ronkin. I loved quieting my mind, feeling present, and enjoying the deep sense of relaxation and peace that came from meditating. Throughout my life I have continued to explore various approaches to meditation and have incorporated this into my counseling practice. I have discovered the profound benefits this has on people’s lives and their healing process.
Below I have outlined a beginners guide to meditation:
The most common accessible position for meditation is sitting. Sit on the floor, in a chair, or on a stool. Comfort is key. Imagine a thread extending from the top of your head, pulling your back, neck and head straight up towards the ceiling in a straight line.
Relax Your Body
Close your eyes and scan your body, relaxing each body part one at a time. Begin with your toes, feet, ankles, shins and continue to move up your entire body. Don’t forget to relax your shoulders, neck, eyes, face, and jaw which are common areas for us to hold tension.
Be Still And Silent
Now that you are sitting tall and relaxed, take a moment to be still. Just sit. Be aware of your surroundings, your body, the sounds around you. Don’t react or attempt to change anything. Just be aware.
Turn your attention to your breath. Breath silently and deep. Engage your diaphragm and fill your lungs, but do not force your breath. Notice how your breath feels in your nose, throat, chest, and belly as it flows in and out.
Establish a Mantra
A mantra is a sound, word or phrase that can be repeated throughout the meditation. A simple mantra for beginners is to silently say with each breath, I am breathing in, I am breathing out.
Calm Your Mind
As you focus on your breath or mantra, your mind will begin to calm and become present. As thoughts come into your mind, simply acknowledge them, set them aside, and return your attention to your breath or mantra.
When to end your practice
There is no correct length of time to practice meditation. However, when beginning it is often easier to sit for shorter periods of time 5-10 minutes. As you become more comfortable with your practice meditate longer.
How to end your practice
When you are ready to end your practice, slowly bring your conscious attention back to your surroundings. Acknowledge your presence in the space around you. Gently wiggle your fingers and toes. Begin to move your hands, feet, arms, and legs. Open your eyes. Move slowly and take your time getting up.
Consistency is more important than quantity. Meditating for 5 minutes every day will reward you with far greater benefits than meditating for two hours, once a week.
Meditation is a simple, effective, and convenient way to calm your busy mind, relax your body, become grounded and find inner peace.
Dr. Melissa Samartano, PhD.,LMHC