Simple Meditation Practice

‘I can’t meditate’ or ‘I can’t do yoga’ are phrases that I’m sure every teacher of yoga or meditation has heard.  Well to that I say ‘Bullocks’ :)

In the words of many great teachers, ‘if you can breathe, you can do yoga’.

The same goes for meditation.  But that’s not to say it is easy.

For me, it is a challenge for 3 reasons.

The first is a physical reason.  I have tight hips and knees, which makes sitting cross-legged for any length of time painful. (The irony of being a yoga teacher who cannot sit cross-legged on the floor is not lost on me, but hey, what can you do?)

The second reason is that my mind does not stay still for long. It constantly forgets that I’m meant to be meditating. Instead it starts planning dinner, what I’m going to wear the next day, what new shoes I’d like to buy, what I forgot to do at work today, etc, etc.

The third is that I have to make time for it. And it’s so easy for me to think that I’m too busy to stop; even for 5 minutes.

But all of these reasons not to meditate, are actually the very reasons I do.

Taking time to try to create some stillness and space helps me clear my head and it means I’m generally calmer and also more focused at work and home.

9-Step Lying Meditation Practice

Find a space where you can lie down for either 5, 10 or 15 minutes without been disturbed.

I’d suggest using a timer so you don’t worry about how long you have left to go.  Use the timer on your mobile phone or invest in a simple cooking timer that is small and portable.

1. Set your timer with the amount of time you would like to meditate. I’d suggest starting with 5 minutes if it’s your first time and slowly work up to 10 and then 15 minutes.

2. Lie down on your back. Close your eyes.

3. Let your arms and legs fall away from your body, think ‘star-fish’ pose so that your legs and arms are not right next to your body.

Turn your palms so that they are facing upwards and let you feet flop out to either side.

If you have a sore or stiff lower back you can bend your knees and step your feet in towards your buttocks or place a bolster/pillow under your knees to lift them off the ground.  This will create more space for your lower back and reduce the pressure.

4. Begin listening to your breathing. Just observing your inhale and exhale. Don’t try to change anything, just hear your breath. Do this for a few rounds of breathing.

5. Then, as you breathe in visualise the breath entering through your nose (or mouth) and then travelling down the back of your body to your feet. On exhale visualise the breath travelling back up your body from your feet and out through your nose or mouth.

6. Imagine that each inhale and exhale is slightly slower then the last. Your breath is gradually slowing down. Don’t force the breath. It does not actually matter if the breath is slowing down or not, what matters, is that you are imagining it becoming slower and smoother.

7. If the mind wanders, which it inevitably will, don’t become concerned or annoyed.  When you notice that you have started to think about something else, simple acknowledge that your mind has wandered off and bring your focus back to the visualisation described above.

8. Continue  steps 6 and 7 until the timer goes off.

9. Slowly stretch your body. Stretching your legs and arms to bring them out of rest. Roll slowly to one side of your body, then come up into a comfortable sitting or standing position. Move slowly so you don’t get dizzy. Take a moment or two to wake up and then head back into your day.

It’s natural to feel a little uncomfortable if it is your first time trying any meditation exercise.  Don’t worry about this, just observe the feeling and explain to yourself that it is natural to feel this way.

If you start to feel extremely agitated then don’t force yourself to continue. Open your eyes and stop the practice for that day. You can always come back to the practice later.   And remember, if you don’t like the practice or you cannot stay still for even 5 minutes, don’t worry about it.  It just means that this practice is not the right one for you at this moment.