How to meditate

There are just some days you get in a fight. It can be with your partner, with your boss, with a friend, or with a family member. At least in my case, the fight consumes all my thoughts until I cannot sleep, eat breakfast, or think about performing a daily chore without it being there all the time. It feels like a flashing neon sign you see outside a diner and your attention is naturally drawn towards it.

As it was four in the morning and I had awaken from the stress the fight had caused me (it was in my dreams!), I decided it was probably best to do something about it. Meditation, I thought, would be my saving grace. So how, exactly, do you meditate?

There are four essential requirements.

 Don't worry, you don't actually have to sit like this... 

Don't worry, you don't actually have to sit like this... 

1) Get yourself comfortable. It is best to sit, rather than lie down. Make sure your head is relaxed, and your hands are lying on your thighs. Your whole body has to be loose so focus on letting all the muscles in your body relax.

2) Find a quiet place.

3) Pick a thought or an idea (i.e. relax) to focus on. You will be repeating this phrase as you meditate.

4) Take on what we call a passive attitude. That means letting all the thoughts in your head go by without focusing on them. Let them drift and don’t try and change them. I relate it to “people-watching”. I may do it sitting in a cafe starting outside the window, aimlessly watching the people and cars go by, taking it all in without focusing on one specific person or judging anybody. Take this approach with your thoughts. Let them pass by without claiming your attention.

Now here is where it all starts. Become aware of your breathing, don’t try to control it, just become aware of it. Let your breathing and your thoughts flow at their natural rates. As you do this, you’ll naturally become more relaxed. Then start breathing rhythmically; in and out, in and out. Concentrate on slowing your breathing down, and doing so rhythmically without forcing it. As you breathe in and out, focus on your phrase. For example, breathe in and out and then say “relax”, breathe in and out and say “relax”. Continue this meditation for as long as you need. If you start focusing on other things, say your phrase again, really trying to focus on that one word.

I choose the word ‘sleep’ last night at 4 am, and sure enough I was snoring peacefully within fifteen minutes. All throughout the day, whenever I felt myself stressing out, I would focus on my breathing and say my phrase (I changed it to ‘relax’ because I don’t think falling asleep on the office desk would look so good).

If you’re feeling stressed out it can’t hurt to try this out. If you find it doesn’t work for you, there are alternatives you can try such as muscle relaxation exercises or hypnosis. Comment below and tell me what you have tried and the outcomes. Oh, and I'll let you know who wins this fight... (I'm relaxed...see?!) Breathe...