1. Set time aside: Make sure you are going to be alone for awhile. It doesn't feel very good when you are super rushed or someone may enter the space, etc. Try setting a quiet alarm (relaxing stuff at low volume or maybe just on vibrate). Remember that you’re doing a kind thing for yourself!
2. Find a quiet place: Find a quiet place wherever you are, whatever situation you may be in. Work with the space(s) you have. Outside in nature is especially wonderful!
3. Give up expectations: Try not to set goals or be too strict/serious about it. Give up, let ideas and feelings come naturally, allow it to be a spontaneous experience. But also, just briefly consider what you might be looking for. Healing? Wisdom? Peace & relaxation, right?
4. Focus on the breath: This is pretty much my most important piece of advice. Remember that you are looking to maintain a breath pattern that soothes the nervous system, improves brain function, and overall may improve your state of health & happiness!
5. Relax the body: Make sure you are in a comfortable position, perhaps against a wall cross-legged, using props under the knees, seat, etc. Scan your body, consciously think of each body part relaxing, and it will.
6. Withdraw your senses: Try to focus more internally, on your thoughts & breathing, rather than anything going on outside of the body (common daily noise, anything inside the room, etc). Allow yourself to feel safe.
7. Use a mantra: Not gonna lie, I totally took one of my favorites from Disney’s “The Lion King,” where Mufasa is all like “remember who you are, Simba!” lol So I like to say remember who you are, as in - remember the good things about you, the good you can do. That got me through a few things. Another I like is "grace brings contentment," which I read at the end of my tea bag the other day :)
8. Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for the thoughts that arise. Just notice them and let them go. Try to name how you're feeling.
9. Be creative: Consider other methods. For instance, moving, guided, and/or group meditation are all different experiences aimed at the same idea, which is to clear or quiet the mind.
Personally, I find myself meditating most during times of stress or sadness. Recently I've decided that it is the closest thing to praying I have ever felt, and during these instances I have spontaneously found myself closer to, or more understanding - of God (or the gods, goddess, universe, Ja, Allah.. whatever!). Meditating has helped me observe my life patterns and improve myself so that I might also somehow improve the world. I can't say that I prefer doing it alone or allowing someone to guide me in a group, because it has been a powerful practice for me either way.
Anyway, so, just to review: Why meditate? Because it helps us feel better and live a healthier, more peaceful life! The most important thing? Whenever your thoughts wander or tension arises - go back to the breath. Do you guys practice meditation at all? Is it formal thing, on a pillow surrounded by bamboo & all that, or maybe in your car, or some place strange? What have your experiences been like?
Thanks again for the artwork, Rachel! :)