These meditation techniques are hot off my visit to the Zen Meditation Centre in Montreal, Quebec. I’ve been kind of dabbling in meditation for years, ever since I started taking my yoga practice more seriously. Most of the time my meditation practice was only under the guidance of an instructor and usually for only short periods of time. The longest session was at a yoga retreat but I remember my head bobbing up and down (i.e. I was falling in and out of sleep). Not exactly a strong meditation session.
Here are the meditation techniques inspired by the Zen Meditation I learnt from the workshop at the Centre. The instructions are under the assumption of a home practice- your own space. But obviously you can meditate anywhere.
1. Find a quiet clutter-free area in your home. Ideally a room but I don’t think that’s realistic for most people. An area in a quiet back of your home, for example a corner would work best. Have that space setup to remind you of your meditation practice- a pillow, a plant, picture or a statue.
2. When you go to sit down to start your practice sit facing the wall, away for anything in your home that will pose as a distraction.
3. Sit in a comfortable seated position close to the floor (the idea is to be centred to gravity). Also your hips are supposed to be above your knees. Ideally to be sitting on a yoga block or a meditation pillow, especially if you have tight hips.
4. Start to close your eyes. I was told in Zen Meditation that your eyes are in fact not completely closed but the slightest bit open facing downwards. So the option is up to you! I personally prefer to close my eyes completely.
5. The breathing technique in meditation (as it is in yoga) is to breathe through your nose, not your mouth. Work on slowing down the breath, not rushing through it. If you are just starting out count your breath which prevents your mind from wondering. If you stop counting, your mind has wondered.
6. Use on timer on your smart phone to mark how long to meditate. There are apps out there that can also help you with this. Work on increasing your meditation sessions slowly. At the Centre it was suggested to meditation more than 10 minutes because the real challenge begins after that time.
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A funny note: When I go to sit down quietly one of my cats always seems to follow me. He’ll start brushing up against me while I’m trying to focus. The solution might be simple to close to door ahead of time, however, he would just keep on meowing from outside the door. Instead I incorporate “mindful petting” while I focus on my breath. He will eventually leave me alone and sit down beside me.
Personally I don’t think what I have mentioned above as the only way to meditate. The act of meditating is simply to quiet the mind. I think I have been meditating for years without even realizing it. Going for long runs has always been a way I used to clear my mine. Especially when I’m training for a half marathon, my mind switches to focusing on my breath and what’s going on inside my body. At end of the day meditation is simple being present in the moment.