Lots of people, when you talk to them about meditation, get an image in their head something like this:
You sit, cross-legged, palms up and out to your sides. You chant “om” or something like that. You clear your mind of everything and have an amazing spiritual experience.
Admittedly, this is a possibility. But this is not what meditation is in its simplest form is.
Anyone can meditate. And I mean ANYONE. It doesn’t need to be some big production, or an enormous, lengthy undertaking. It can be as little as two minutes of your time.
The thing about meditation, in my experience, has been how desirable it is. It’s not some chore or challenge. The more I practice meditating the more I desire to meditate.
I’ll get into the benefits of meditation later in this article. But right now, I want to share a meditation practice that ANYONE can do. Ultimate meditation for non-meditators.
One last thing before I explain this. I want to dispel a common myth. Meditation is not utter and total clearance of your thoughts. That tends to be largely impossible because you are ALWAYS thinking on one level or another. What meditation IS is stillness, focus on the moment, finding, and/or creating a moment in the now to simply be. No expectation, no needful things, just existence.
This dispels the notion that “I can’t meditate because I can’t shut off my brain.” Been there, done that. Now — I meditate for 20 minutes a day.
So, let’s get into this.
Mediation for non-meditators
There are 5 steps to this practice.
Choose a space where you have either silence, ambient noise/white noise, or you can play soft instrumental music or nature sounds. Don’t do this in the middle of an office surrounded by other people (a sangha or group meditation, of course, is a different animal).
When the weather is cooperative, I meditate on my deck. I love to listen to the birds, or the wind, or the rain. When the weather is bad, I meditate in a space set-up for meditation in my home-office and listen to recordings of waves or streams or other nature sounds.
Find a spot to seat yourself. This should be in a manner where you keep your back straight and your head up. Thus, either a straight-back chair or a spot on the floor or a cushion of some sort.
I tend to meditate in a chair on my deck. I love the sun on my face. In winter, however, I use a cushion designed for meditation. However, I don’t place it in an open spot on the floor. I like to lean my back against the wall. Still sitting up straight either way.
Hands should either be palm-up or palm-down on your thighs or knees. You should, if in a chair, have your feet flat on the ground or floor.
Set a timer. I recommend beginning with just 2 minutes. But don’t set the time for exactly 2 minutes — make it 2 minutes and 5 seconds. Give yourself the seconds to start the timer, then get into position for meditation.
Make sure the alarm when the timer goes off isn’t too jarring. Undoing the good of mediation with an obnoxious alarm is silly and defeats the purpose of meditating. My alarm is some pleasant chimes.
I use my iPhone for this purpose. But if your mobile is constantly being buzzed, beeped, or otherwise hit by notifications — you may want to find a dedicated timer.
Once you start the timer, close your eyes, and begin. Take a deep breath in, then let it out. As you breathe in, think — breathe in. As you exhale, think — breathe out. Focus entirely on your breathing.
When your mind wanders — and it will — refocus on the breath. Think to yourself — breathe in, breathe out. Every time your mind wanders refocus on breathing.
This puts you ultimately in the now. Because right here, right now, during the 2 minutes you are meditating — you focus on your breath and stillness.
Don’t let your wandering mind upset you. This is natural. Just shift back to focus on your breath, and direct your thoughts to — breathe in, breathe out with every breath.
One alternative — if closing your eyes just does not calm you, pick a focal point you don’t need to turn to see or do more than drop your eyes on. Use a candle, a stone, small statuary, or something of this nature to lose yourself in.
When the alarm goes off, open your eyes. Pause and reflect, don’t just jump up and go back to whatever you were doing.
Life tends to move at an almost surreal pace. We all have expectations to be met and obligations to take care of. This two-minute meditation is all about you, being present and mindful for just two minutes.
It really is that simple. And it can be that short.
Making time for practice
I began at two minutes. Then expanded to 5 minutes. Then 10 minutes. Over time, I got to 12 minutes. Then 15 minutes. Eventually, I worked my way to 18 minutes, and now for the past several months 20 minutes.
I get distracted during those 20 minutes. My mind will wander to an article I want to write, some thoughts I am chewing on, plot ideas for things I am writing, what I want to eat for lunch, and numerous other distractions. When that happens — and it ALWAYS does — I reclaim my mindfulness by refocusing on my breath and directing my thoughts to — breathe in, breathe out with every breath.
I highly recommend you choose a time of day to be consistent with this practice. For a while, I tended to just make time in the afternoon. But that caused me to miss a day or two. When I began to consistently read a chapter of fiction and a chapter of nonfiction every day, I made mediation the next thing I would do.
Consistency makes it a lot easier to practice.
The benefits of mediation
So — what does this do and why should you bother?
I have found that, since beginning regular meditation, I am calmer overall. Situations that used to upset me, cause me to worry, or start getting into a less-than-optimal headspace don’t hit me so easily. I am better able to find, create, and make balance for my life.
We tend to be on the go ALL THE TIME. Your life is in constant motion, and that makes it easy to get out of synch.
What does that mean? Ever walk into a room and suddenly realize you can’t recall why you are there? Have you started an email and found you couldn’t recall what your point was? That’s getting out of synch.
Taking just two minutes a day to be still and breathe makes you more mindful. That gives you far better insight into your thoughts, feelings, actions, and intentions right here and now. Conscious awareness of what’s going on inside your head.
When the world is full to overflowing with distractions and needful notions it’s too easy to lose focus. Meditation is a way for you to take it back, get in control, and find and/or create balance in your life.
Meditation is great for focus and concentration. But it also helps with depression, anxiety, and other forms of stress.
Finally — meditation can do no harm. This is a practice that won’t hurt you. At worst, it just won’t help you.
My challenge to you
If you believe that your mind is running too fast, that you cannot stop it nor pause, I challenge you to try this for one week.
Pick a time, every day, for a week, to practice the 5 steps for meditation I have offered above. Commit to a week of it. Don’t half-ass it, this is just 2 minutes of your time. Really go for it (“Do or do not — there is no try!”) and make it so.
Accept that you don’t need to be some Zen master, Buddhist practitioner, Yogi, or other hooky-spooky New-Ager. Meditation is a healthy practice for everyone that can gain you more calm, mindfulness, and improve your focus and productivity.
Remember, wandering thoughts during meditation are normal. You do not need to shut down your mind to practice. Just focus on breathing, refocus as necessary, and allow yourself to be.
If you are stressed out, coping with a world that’s utterly uncertain, or just in need of a break — what have you got to lose? Try meditation, non-meditator, and see for yourself how it could benefit you and your life.
To sum up:
The 5 steps for simple meditation
1. Choose a space to meditate.
2. Seat yourself comfortably with your back straight, on the ground or in a chair.
3. Set a timer. 2:05 to begin.
4. Close your eyes. Focus on your breathing. Think breathe in, breathe out with each breath.
5. Open your eyes, pause, and reflect a moment.
Why not go for it?
Thank you for reading. I am MJ Blehart. I write about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and similar life lessons.