Meditation has proven health benefits and has been shown to reduce addictive behavior and improve your relationships with both yourself and others. Many of us struggle to find the time or motivation to meditate, but this need not be the case. It can be done anywhere, any time. Here mind guru Alvin Kwan shares his top tips.
FOCUS ON YOUR BREATH
The moment you move your attention from your thoughts to your breath you have started meditating. Begin to feel your breathing by observing the sensations that arise in the nostrils, chest, diaphragm or abdomen as you inhale and exhale. Conveniently, your breathing is always available for you to use as a meditation, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
As well as being aware of the feelings you experience as you breathe, begin to notice other sensations that arise. Take a little journey around the body, making sure to cover every part. What can you feel in each area? You may feel hot or cold, tension, aches, tingling, perspiration or heaviness. The list is endless. But try not to label any sensations that you find; simply observing them is good enough.
DON’T EXPECT ANYTHING TO HAPPEN
Meditation is the opposite of excitement. When we are excited we are anticipating something in the future. When we meditate we are simply being in the present moment, here and now. Do not expect some flash of insight or transcendental moment of enlightenment. Simply be with the sensations that are arising for you now. Stop searching for anything.
DO NOT JUDGE THE SENSATIONS
Accept every sensation that arises anywhere in your body with equanimity; no sensation is good or bad. If we judge our sensations then we will begin to crave those sensations that we label ‘good’ or generate aversion towards ‘bad’ or ‘painful’ sensations.
Allow aches and pains to be there and move your attention to observe another part of the body. You may even find that some time later that ‘unbearable’ sensation has completely disappeared.
STOP LISTENING TO YOUR THOUGHTS
People say, “I can’t meditate because I can’t stop thinking”. Want to know a secret? Nobody can. Every time you notice that you have stopped meditating and are thinking again, move your attention away from thought into feeling breathing sensations in the body. You have started meditating again. You’ll probably need to do this many times in just a few minutes.
START LOVING YOURSELF
As you spend more and more time observing bodily sensations, you’ll begin to notice which thoughts cause you to feel negative, unpleasant sensations in the body. Start turning angry or hurtful thoughts into loving thoughts and feel the difference these make in your body.
SET A TIMER
Once you start to see the benefits that meditating brings to your life, start making more time to do it. Set a timer (for ten minutes initially) and do not stop your meditation until the buzzer rings. Of course there will be times during the ten minutes when you will go off into the world of thought, but that’s okay. Every time you notice you are thinking, immediately move your awareness away from thought and back into the body. The more you practice meditating, the more able you will be to resist the temptation to listen to your own mind’s endless thinking and chattering.
-By Alvin Kwan