Align the Spine Physically
- Notice where/how you are connected to the ground; whether resting on feet, or hips and legs, or even reclining
- Let your ears, shoulders, bottom ribs, highest point on hips, sitting bones (Potentially knees, ankles too) rest or balance in one line; imagine a plumb line descending from the very center of your head.
- Notice where you are able to stack these points in a way that minimizes effort and starts to feel more like balancing or floating
- Taking a breath and reaching up through the crown of your head can be helpful to find length in the body that will help you align with ease.
Ground in the Present
- On a physical, mental and emotional level, take a moment to become aware of your current state. With practice this may be a quick check-in but here are some tips to work through as you are learning and which can still be helpful whenever dropping into meditation feels challenging.
- Physically: Just as suggested in the first step of finding alignment in the body; notice where/how you are connected to the ground; whether resting on feet, or hips and legs, or even reclining.
- Mentally: Notice what thoughts arise in your mind. Notice if they arrive one at a time or if there are many thoughts overlapping. Notice if you have an emotional response to any of your thoughts.
- Try not to linger here too long, and resist the urge to resolve or conclude any train of thought. Try not to judge them as good or bad. Just be aware of their presence.
- Emotionally: Physical sensations in your body or awareness of the quality of your thoughts mentally may both give you clues about your emotional state. You can also ask yourself; ‘how am I feeling’ or ‘what emotion is alive within me right now?’ Many times emotions are mixed and you may be experiencing a variety of emotions at once, and other times one emotion clearly dominates.
- Finally, you do not need to check in on all three levels/states. Choosing to focus on only your physical, mental, or emotional state may be enough. If you continue to feel scattered or disconnected it may be helpful to continue on to one or both of the other levels/states. Do your best to avoid getting lost in this overall step of grounding in the present. It is meant to be a brief check-in to connect with yourself and to feel an awareness of your environment.
- Take note of anything you observe about the movement of your breath.
- Is it shallow or deep?
- Do you feel movement in your belly or chest, or both?
- Are you breathing through your nose or your mouth?
- In meditation it is helpful to breathe through the nose, fully into the lungs (not just the upper chest) and in a way that allows the length and intensity of the inhalation and exhalation to match one another.
Focus on one thing
- Typically four accessible entry points to place focus during meditation include; Breath, a Spiritual connection, a Visual point, or a Sound.
- An excellent place to focus your attention is on the breath and you may already be doing this from the previous step. You are welcomed to stay with this observation throughout the meditation.
- Focusing on breath may include feeling the belly rise and fall, feeling the air move over your upper lip or into the nostrils, or practicing a specific yogic breath.
If distracted, take action and place focus there.
- For some people being still and quiet in meditation brings up uncomfortable emotions. This is not uncommon and learning to sit with this without responding or changing what you are doing is part of the practice of becoming skilled at meditation.
- However, there is no need to suffer or to avoid meditation entirely if you are not currently interested in working through that process.
- Try bringing in one simple action upon which to rest all of your attention.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to share yoga and meditation right now. I wanted to offer this in a way that hopefully gives people who may be apprehensive about meditating, or have hit a plateau in your experience, some ideas to try. When just ‘being’ is difficult, ‘doing’ (taking action) can often help us connect. But we have to be fully open and aware in the moment for all the ‘doing’ to bring us to ‘being,’ rather than getting stuck in the ‘doing’, just for the sake of keeping busy. Busy is a distraction. Let it go and be willing to be with yourself. – Jess