How to Meditate Properly Like a Monk
Meditation can be hard. It’s really not easy (or practical) to sit still in half lotus posture trying to focus on compassion and love, when really what’s on your mind is when you can finish your session and get on with your day.
There are a lot of myths floating around about best practices for meditation — like how long you’re supposed to sit for, how often you should do it, what the best posture is, what you should focus on…and the list goes on. Maybe you’ve been wondering the same thing at some point in your meditation practice too.
To break through the noise that, ironically, can be in the meditation cyberspace, here is a timeless tip and practice to get the most of your sessions. It’s a fundamental tip and trick that is really at the essence of why we meditate in the first place.
What is it? It’s about your mind being in the body.
In other words, meditation is not about the postures nor is it about the perfect, dimly-lit sacred space. It’s not even about any crystals or or meditation oils or closing your eyes and focusing on love. Of course these things can and do supplement any meditation session, but at the core of a true meditation practice, is the sincere practice of bringing your mind back into the body.
Why the body? When your mind is inside of your body instead of wandering out, its attention is on the present moment. Think about it: your mind has the ability to wander into the past to relive memories and also into the future to predict what’s to come. But, your body can only be in the present moment regardless of where your mind is wandering to. So by bringing your mind into the body, you’re training it to focusing on the present moment, which is the goal and practice of meditation.
If your meditations haven’t been as effective or peaceful as you’ve wanted, it’s worth it to check how much (or how little) your mind has been trained to focus on your body right now.
Easier said than done, right? Try this easy exercise the next time you sit for meditation to check your mind.
Step 1: Get into a comfortable seated pose and align your spine.
Step 2: Tuck your chin in slightly towards you to open the back of your neck.
Step 3: Imagine a dot inside of your abdomen — two inches below your navel and two inches inside — in the center of your body.
Step 4: Breathe naturally and comfortably into the dot.
Step 5: Set a timer for three minutes, close your eyes, and focus only on the dot like nothing else in the world matters right now except for you and the dot.
Step 6: Every time your mind wanders off to something else or a thought comes into you that distracts you, tally it on a piece of paper or keep a mental note.
How did you do? How many tally marks did you score? Keep practicing this tip and when you’ve become an expert at it, then try adding in focusing on gratitude, compassion, or the breath.
Remember: meditations aren’t about anything physical or environmental. It’s all about what’s inside of you. You can be in a crowded subway during the evening rush in New York City with your eyes opened and a baby screaming next to you, but if your mind is focused on your center and you’re inside of your body…then even the busiest place can bring you great peace.