I encourage people every day to adopt a basic meditative practice for the simple reason that everyone I know is trying to kill themselves with stress. We say silly things like, “I thrive on stress” or “I handle stress well”. This is akin to saying you thrive on arsenic or you handle arsenic well. Stress is a toxin and will literally shorten your life and lead to every know disease under the sun. Meditation is a FREE, simple, calming practice that has more proven research results than any other form of relaxation technique. It literally slows your rate of aging and protects your brain and heart from damage. Meditation favorable protects your genes and DNA, reduces blood pressure and generate joy and happiness. Meditation is the antidote to stress. So let’s get started.
Anyone and everyone can meditate. You are special but you don’t possess some altered gene or brain disease that prevents you from meditating so put that excuse away and begin to learn. Meditation is not something your aggressively do. It is something that you relax into and allow by surrendering to the generous present moment. Meditation is little more than setting your thinking brain aside and focusing on ONE thing. For our purpose here we will use the heart and the breath to focus on. The brain will not like this idea and will throw thoughts out at a furious pace as it is being ignored. If you have ever raised a 2 year old you are skilled in how to ignore a nuisance so you are already skilled at meditation.
As we start any meditation you are to sit upright in a comfortable chair and simply place your attention on your heart. Where you place your attention is where you place your energy. Imagine that each slow breath is entering through your heart. Simply see and feel your heart light up as it absorbs the energy. Feel your pulse slow as you relax into the present moment. The goal is to simply BE. No thinking, no planning, no “To Do” list . . . just BE.
It will only take about 3 breaths before your brain starts spitting out thoughts. “HEY, why are we doing this?” How long are we going to sit here? Don’t forget you have to pick up the kids, run to the grocery, finish that report, give your boss an answer, call Nancy, make dinner, go to the gym, take over the world and finish your chores. Come on come on come on let’s go!! That silly brain is just doing what brains do, spit out thoughts. But you are more than your thoughts. Your thoughts and emotions are simply your Ego stomping its feet for attention. YOU, the real essence of YOU, is centered in the heart, not the brain. Feed your essence with quiet attention. With each breath we learn to ignore the brain and return to the heart. One breath at a time.
As a tool to learn meditation we will use a distracting technique called Box Breathing which is simply counting. We use this to help us learn to distract our brain by focusing on the counting of each breath. You will not need this technique forever but it is a great tool for beginners.
- As you inhale count 1-2-3-4.
- Then hold your breath 1-2-3-4
- Then exhale 1-2-3-4
- Then hold 1-2-3-4
As the meditation continues we will extend this to a 7 count on the inhale and exhale with a 4 count on the holds. I will audibly walk you through this but feel free to breath on your own count if that feels better to you.
You will find that in the midst of a busy day you can stop at any time and simply box breath for a few minutes and generate significant calm for yourself.
I recommend doing this exercise every morning and again every evening. Use it to calm the mind before the start of the day and chance to rinse of the negativity of the day as evening approaches.