You seriously want to reduce your daily stress and improve your overall sense of well-being. You know that you should be meditating. But the problem is, you can’t sit still for more than a minute – if that.

You’ve tried deep breathing – but you can’t seem to hold the focus for long and become fidgety. On the rare occasion that you are able to briefly quiet your mind and body, your daily to-do list, worries and concerns come spilling out to disturb your peace. They pull you away and back into the busy, noisy world.

You don’t understand the hype around mediation and think that people who say they meditate and find a greater sense of peace are all pretending or showing off. You, on the other hand, find that trying to meditate only leaves you with a feeling of frustration that disturbs you even more.

How can you meditate?

Be serious about sitting still

woman meditating in forest, kepeing the body very still

The first practice to prepare for meditation is keeping the body very still.

Find a suitable, clean and quiet spot where you can sit upright on a chair or on the floor. Gently close your eyes.

The body and the mind are intricately connected.  You may have noticed that when your mind is excited or disturbed, you can’t sit still. And, when when you hold your body still, the mind becomes still.

So, begin by keeping your body absolutely still and breathe slowly.  Make sure that your body is relaxed. Think of a calm, crystal blue lake in which the bottom is clearly seen. There’s fluidity in that stillness.

There are many ways to relax the body for meditation. You could do some simple yoga stretches along with some  deep breathing. You could listen to some soothing music or take a bath. You decide what works for you. When your body feels more relaxed, it’s easier to hold it steady for meditation.

Practice keeping your body still for a few days. Don’t worry about doing anything else. This is an essential preliminary practice for meditation.

Deep breathing

Once the body is still, the next thing to add to your practice is taking slow, deep breaths. Start with fully expelling all the air from your lungs by pulling in your belly. Hold the air out for a few seconds. Then take a long, slow, deep breath in. When the lungs are full, hold in the air for a few seconds before releasing it in a controlled, slow manner.

Practice in this way for a few days and you will find that your mind has become quieter.

Don’t judge or congratulate

Once you have been able to quiet the body and regulate your breathing, you will find that your mind’s chatter has quietened down to some extent.  At this point, don’t judge or congratulate yourself: “Wow!, it’s so peaceful”, “I’m actually meditating” etc.  You’ll only be disturbing your quiet mind with unnecessary thoughts.

As soon as you become aware of a thought, shift your attention to your breathing.

Only for these few minutes…

When you try to quiet the mind, your usual worries and concerns come gurgling to the surface. It’s pretty normal. Don’t worry about it.

Remember that you don’t have to commit to meditating for long periods of time.Tell your mind that it only has to be still for a few minutes. The mind becomes more willing to cooperate with you if it knows it’s only for a short time.

If that doesn’t work because you have a lot on your mind, you could tell yourself that you are going to spend some time to reflect or gain some ideas about your concerns first.  It may help to keep a pen and paper handy to jot down some things. When you’ve written them down, you won’t worry that you will forget them after your meditation practice.

Once you’ve dealt with what you need to, it becomes a little easier to meditate. In the beginning, focus simply on your breathing and keeping your body still for about 5 minutes.

Be business-like in keeping your daily appointment with yourself

woman silhouette meditating on beach

To give you an idea of the importance you should place on your mediation practice, think of something that you absolutely have to do. It could be picking up your child from the daycare centre in the afternoon or a work project you have to complete by a certain time. You would arrange your schedule around this important task or project.

In the same way, set a place and a daily time for your meditation practice. Once you do, mark it as urgent and important on your schedule. Be sincere and regular in your daily practice. Work your daily routine around it.

Sincerity and regularity reaps rewards

Being able to effectively relax. calm the mind and slow the thoughts in meditation is a skill that develops through sincere and regular practice. The more you practice, the peace you experience in meditation will spill over to colour all other areas of life.

Try these simple tips and see for yourself. Let me know how it goes. You can post your comments and questions below.

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Manisha Melwani

Manisha Melwani is a teacher and the author of, "So You're a Spiritual Being–Now What?" She offers spiritual and wellness solutions for life and stress management. She teaches classes in personal growth, stress management and meditation. She is based in Richmond Hill and Markham, Ontario. Contact her for more information or to have her speak to your group or organization. She also offers private counselling sessions in person or on-line.
Manisha Melwani

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