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If there's one thing for which I was thankful last year, it was my dedication to meditation. I now understand it isn't about where you are, it's where you're at with you. You can be anywhere, and still be haunted by worries and thoughts. Once that emotional cup fills up, you can find yourself in the grocery aisle, wondering why you're there. Sure, checklists and organizing tools can help, but meditation will make you sharp and mindful.
Here's a simple 8-step plan that you can squeeze in before, after, or during the baby crying, your mother's moaning, or the queen's speech. Loosen your tie, undo your belt, kick off your heels, and relax.
1. Clean your space.
Energetic cleaning can leave a space more balanced and open. When meditating, it's important to pay attention to you surroundings. Always meditate in a clean room and one in which you feel relaxed and comfortable. I like candles and incense to calm a space.
2. Get comfortable.
I don’t like being uncomfortable. I don’t think anyone does. And sitting cross-legged in lotus with a straight back and poised yogi fingers doesn’t spell comfortable to me. Sore butt, achy back, and pins and needles will most likely be the outcome.
3. Body check.
Take a few moments to settle in to your body. Observe your posture, and notice the sensations where your body touches the chair and feet meet the ground. Feel the weight of your arms resting on your legs.
4. Use the alarm clock meditation.
If the recommended 20 minutes seems a bit full on to start, set a timer for five minutes. Then meditate until the timer goes off. This way, you don’t have to wonder about how long it’s been, or how much longer you should meditate for.
5. Observe the breath.
In the first stage you use counting to stay focused on the breath. After the out-breath you count one, then you breathe in and out and count two, and so on up to ten, and then you start again at one.
6. Hold your attention.
While doing this, it's completely normal for thoughts to bubble up. What are we having for dinner, I need to call so and so, can I return that gift? You don't need to do anything- just guide your attention back to the breath. If you can remember the number you'd counted up to, start again from there, or simply start from one again. Continue until the timer chimes.
7. Wish yourself well.
A common technique in Buddhist practice is to practice loving kindness meditation. Sounds a bit airy fairy but this really works. Practice it on yourself, someone you can't stand, or a neutral person you pass daily. Turn your attention to yourself and say words like May I be well and happy. May I be peaceful and calm. May my mind be free from hatred. May I be free from suffering. Repeat as desired.
8. Let it be.
Spend 30 seconds to a minute just sitting and thinking about nothing. Let those thoughts come in, and watch them go out. Don't rush back into whatever it is you need to do. Just take your time, slow your pace, and let it be. Remember, you're the expert on you. Find the things that work for you, and ignore the rest.