In a world full of digital distraction, learning to develop deeper concentration can be an increasingly difficult task. The good news is, meditation can help with that.
The idea of being completely tuned into your own mind is simple, but it can be frustrating. If you’ve ever tried to meditate and found yourself lost in your thoughts, you’d understand what we mean.
With practice and patience, however, you’ll learn how to anchor yourself in the present, developing your mindfulness of the here and now.
Step 1: Find a quiet spot.
You’d want to meditate in a place free from disturbances and distractions. Find a quiet area that is neither too cold or hot and neither too bright or dark. You may prefer the front porch or your bedroom. It should be a place where you feel safe and comfortable meditating.
Step 2: Set a timer.
Set aside a few minutes (ideally 5-10 minutes) each day for meditation and then slowly work your way up to 25-40 minutes. The more frequently you meditate, the easier it will be to concentrate and focus your attention where you want it.
Make sure to set a timer using your watch or alarm clock so that you won’t be needlessly distracted by your phone.
Step 3: Find a comfortable position.
Some people prefer lying down while others opt to meditate while standing. These positions may pose a couple of issues. Lying on your back may cause you to unintentionally fall asleep while standing up may make it hard to get in the zone.
The ideal position for meditation is sitting up with your head, neck, and back straight and shoulders relaxed. Sit in a comfy chair with your feet on the ground or sit cross-legged on the floor or on a cushion. Keep your hands relaxed on your knees or thighs.
Another variation of the seated posture involves the soles of your feet touching and your toes pointing away from your body. You can also try doing the lotus position where both legs are folded and the soles of your feet are facing up.
Step 4: Establish your posture.
Keep your spine upright and your neck long. Let your shoulders drop and rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth. While avoiding slumping or hunching, don’t place unnecessary tension on your upper body as well. Make sure to find a posture that feels relaxed yet steady and alert.
Also, avoid looking up as it may distract your thoughts. Instead, avert your gaze to right above your nose or simply close your eyes. The goal here is to develop a sense of calm focus.
Step 5: Breathe.
Breath awareness is a powerful way of penetrating into mindfulness, so center on your breathing. Pay attention to the sensation of the breath that is moving in and out of your body.
You don’t have to change your breathing pattern. Just breathe naturally and deeply, noticing your stomach and chest rising and falling as you inhale and exhale. Feel the air as it enters through your nose, fills your lungs, leaving the same way it came. Staying aware of these sensations will help you establish presence of mind.
Step 6: Let go.
As you put your focus on your breath, your thoughts will likely come in and distract you from your breathing. Your mind may start to wander off, dwelling into your worries, concerns, anticipation and random musings. Don’t worry; you haven’t failed.
Just acknowledge these thoughts and let them go. Bring your attention back to the sensation of your breath each time.
Step 7: Don’t judge your thoughts.
If you notice your focus drifting away from your breathing, don’t judge yourself and get upset. This is normal, so don’t try to fight or control your thoughts.
Keep in mind that your job is to notice that your mind has wandered off and watch your thoughts come. When they do, simply smile at them and return your attention to your breath for as many times as you need to.
Step 8: Go back to the breath.
If any thoughts arise, just let them pass and go back to concentrating on each breath. Inhale. Exhale. Watching thoughts come and go. Inhale. Exhale.
Step 9: Let the practice unfold.
You may have the idea that in order to establish mindfulness, one must be in a state of complete bliss and relaxation. Or, you may think that the mind has to be completely quiet when practicing mindfulness. These aren’t always true.
Mindfulness is about being fully aware of the present, breath by breath. Try to shrug off any of your expectations on how it should be. Allow the practice to be as you find it and let yourself be as you are.
Step 10: Take the mindfulness with you.
As the session comes to an end, take a moment to acknowledge the effects of the practice on how you are feeling. Take your time and open your eyes when it feels right.
Take this sense of mindfulness with you and cultivate this while you complete a task, do household chores, or wait in line at a store. By taking the practice and incorporating it to your everyday life, you’ll notice it’s easier to stay aware regardless of what you’re doing.
Mindfulness meditation takes practice—a lot of practice. So if you find it difficult the first few times, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just go at it with patience and you’ll be well on your way to a quiet mind.
Share your experience with us. We’d love to know how it is changing your life.