Meditation 101: How to Meditate in 3 Easy StepsPosted by Medicare Made Clear
(Part 3 of a 4-part series)
A true meditation practice is a daily practice. It becomes part of your regular routine. To support consistent practice, you may want to set a time of day when you will meditate. Morning can be a good time, because the mind may be calmer than at other times of the day. But the best time to meditate is the time that you will do it. Pick a time that’s right for you.
Dedicating a space used exclusively for meditation may help support a daily practice. Pick a quiet, comfortable place where you feel secure and supported. If possible, leave your meditation cushion or chair there so it is always ready for you. Some people like to have candles, photos, statues or other items that have special meaning for them nearby. There are no requirements. The important thing is to create a space that speaks to you.
Once you decide on a time to practice and create your meditation space, you can learn how to meditate in three easy steps.
Step 1: Set Your Posture
One of the meditation myths we discussed in a previous post in this series is that you have to sit cross-legged or in the lotus position on the floor to meditate. The truth is that you can choose any position you like as long as you feel alert, balanced and stable when you are in it.
Many meditators use a cushion on the floor to raise the buttocks and allow the knees to rest on the ground. This creates a strong triangular foundation for the body. Some people use a meditation bench, and others prefer a chair. Again, you need to choose what works best for you.
It’s best to have an erect (not stiff!) posture. This can help you sense and let go of any tension in the body so you can relax and open yourself to the meditation experience. You may be surprised as you become aware of the tightness present in various parts of your body. As you do, try to consciously soften and ease these areas.
Step 2: Be Present
Once you are settled in your posture, take a few deep breaths. With each exhale, pay attention to the air leaving your body and let go of any tension just a little bit more. You want to be open, receptive and fully present just where you are in the moment. You may close your eyes or keep them open. If open, keep your eyes softly focused on something—a candle flame or just on a specific place on the floor slightly in front of you.
Now simply sit in presence. To be present means to notice what is happening and to receive it without judging it, analyzing it, trying to change it or pushing it away. The “happenings” may include thoughts, body sensations, emotions, sounds or smells. Let them come, and let them go. Watch them appear, and see them dissolve.
It can be helpful to have a “home base” or anchor, such as the breath, to return to if you find your attention has strayed. Focus on the air coming in and going out. You may even silently say “receiving” on the in breath and “letting go” on the out breath. Try to sit 5-10 minutes a day to start.
Step 3: Be Patient
The first thing most people notice when they sit down to meditate is just how much chatter is going on inside their heads. It goes something like this: What should I make for dinner? Where are my car keys? I really have to talk to (fill in the blank) about (fill in the blank). My back itches. What if the stock market crashes? I wish that dog would stop barking.
Just imagine; this is likely the state of the average person’s mind all the time. It’s no wonder so many feel so stressed!
It’s easy to get frustrated if you feel like you’re going off track a lot while meditating. You may start thinking that you’re doing it wrong or that it’s not working. It’s important to know that a wandering mind is normal. Most people find that, with practice, they have more and longer periods of pure presence, peace and ease in meditation. That’s why it’s called “practice.”
Other articles in this series clear up myths about meditation, explore the health effects of meditation and more. Read other articles in this series.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.
How to Meditate: Learn more with this helpful, downloadable guide.
Medicare & You: Get the U.S. government’s official Medicare handbook.