5 Beginner Steps to Meditation
Meditation always seems like a good idea —who doesn’t want to feel more relaxed and peaceful? But it often seems hard to find the time to learn about it, much less the time to actually do it.
Michael Attie, a Los Angeles-based teacher and the author of many books on meditation, says the most important thing is to, “Keep it simple. Don’t worry about finding the perfect way to do it. There are as many meditation styles as there are people.”
With these 5 easy steps as your guide, start off the New Year with meditation you can do anywhere at any time.
1. Sit Quietly
Attie began his practice decades ago by sitting quietly, often outside in nature. “Focus on a flower, a tree or anything that you consider beautiful,” he says, “Just becoming aware of the world around you is meditation.” He also encourages new students to explore a reason to sit. “It can be grace, peace, bliss or love,” he says. “When students sit with a faith that is their true nature, they are already practicing
2. Concentrate on the Breath
Make yourself comfortable, close your eyes and follow your breath. If you’d like, you can quietly note to yourself, “In Breath, Out Breath.” “Don’t set up a complicated path,” Attie adds. “Just tell yourself: I’m already here, meditating.”
Many students worry that they’re “doing it wrong” because their mind is chattering and not “blank” but Attie assures them that that’s normal. “Just go back to your breath,” he says, “As you concentrate on the breath, the thoughts won’t be so important, or you won’t care about them so much.”
3. Regularity and Persistence
Attie encourages his students to practice with regularity and persistence. “Keep at it even if your mind is going crazy,” he says. “Your practice will deepen. Have faith and don’t judge it.“
He also says it doesn’t matter how long you practice or when or where you practice. “If you’re tired in the evening, sit in the morning,” he says, “If you can’t sit for 20 minutes a day sit for one minute several times.” He also says that you don’t have to sit on a cushion or even in a special meditation room. “You can meditate while you’re waiting for an appointment or waiting for your kids. You can practice anytime or anywhere.”
4. Join a Group, Find a Teacher or Listen to a Tape
“It’s easier to practice with a group than by yourself,” Attie says. “Try different groups and find one you like.” You could also try a class, a teacher or a guided meditation tape at home. “Why not?” he says. “Try everything and see what suits you.”
5. Practice Kindness, both to yourself and others
People make a big deal over formal meditation practice but Attie believes that if you’re practicing kindness to yourself and others, you’re already on the meditative path. “How you live your life is more important than practice,” he says. “Doing your best and then letting go.”
So now that you have the technique and permission to do it anytime, anyplace, what’s keeping you from a little inner peace? “The best time to meditate is when you think you can’t meditate!” Attie laughs. So for the New Year, no more excuses. Sit down, watch your breath, and meditate right now!