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Well maybe you don’t have a burning desire to be better but meditation will make you better.  Better, at what you say?  Better, at whatever you need to be better at, better at dealing with what life throws at you.  Life will always toss out unexpected curveballs.  Meditation helps to foster grace, strength, and resiliency in our reaction to those curveballs. Along with all of the beautiful miracles we experience daily, exist the many challenges of the human experience, from health and relationships to regret and loneliness.  A meditation practice craftily serves up support for each individual and their unique needs.  Is there anyone out there who couldn’t use some additional inner strength, grace, patience, contentment, energy, or peace?

The candle and the pillow are also not prerequisites, but they will support the practice.  Do keep the lighting dim; candlelight is calming. Lighting a candle each morning or evening when you meditate creates a ritual. Rituals help bring us back, cement the practice, and make it interesting.  Rituals can range from super simple, like placing your hands in a certain way if you are in public, (yes, you can meditate in public), to incense and home alters.

The pillow to sit on supports our bodies and bottoms.  Your hips should be higher than your knees if you are on the floor.  This will mean sitting up on a cushion, bolster, pillow, or folded blanket with the legs crossed on the floor.  I place a twice-folded wool yoga blanket in my meditation spot, put my meditation cushion on top of that, and sit down.  Sit on your cushion with a straight spine.  Cross your legs in the most comfortable way.  If this is not possible, sit in a chair with the upper leg and lower leg forming a right angle, legs parallel and feet parallel.  The back is away from the chair back and as straight as possible.

Relaxing the body and becoming familiar with breath awareness is the best way to get started for those new to meditation.

You now know how to sit.  Get as comfortable as possible staying within the above parameters.  It may seem awkward at first, but you will settle in with time, and practicing yoga makes it much easier to sit comfortably.

As you are releasing the body and observing the breath, the mind will wander to other thoughts, don’t get frustrated and give those other thoughts energy.  Simply, be aware, without judging the thought, let it go and go back to the relaxation/breath awareness.

Starting at the feet and moving up the body to the top of your head, consciously feel and relax each area of the body.  This can take any amount of time that is appropriate for you on that particular day.  Spend more time on those areas that are tense or injured.  Then if you are up for more, begin to observe and feel the breath moving through the nostrils and the body. If your mind is very jumpy, to yourself say inhale and exhale, to keep you on track. Ultimately expanding and extending the breath is the goal as discussed in my previous post, Breathe Deeply and Be Calm.

For now just sitting quietly and feeling, your breath is a beautiful thing.  You can combine the two techniques if it feels right by consciously feeling the breath in the parts of the body that need extra TLC.

For those new to meditation, start with 1-5 minutes, and don’t criticize yourself if you last one.  Challenge yourself, but not so much (especially in the early stages of your practice) that you are agitated and dreading the next time you will sit.  Applaud yourself for getting there and sitting for one minute.You are on your way!!!

Other tips to remember:

 Always sit in the same area of the same room; this is your meditation space.

Choose an area that is relatively quiet and free of people traffic in the early stages of your practice.

Practice consistently, once or twice a week is helpful, but with a daily practice, the changes will occur more quickly and be more powerful in ways that will create positive changes.

Enjoy and nurture the time there, consider it a special and sacred time and place for you.