Mediation is kinda trendy, right? In the small town where I live everyone talks about meditating. But how many people do you know who actually, really, faithfully, do it? When I get real with people I often hear they don’t really know how to meditate. They want to learn but they haven’t managed to master meditation and create a healthy habit.
My brain goes a mile a minute
Then again, maybe it’s just me. My brain goes a mile a minute. I’m juggling a major book deadline, work for my editing clients, four kids, and a billion other things. I play community soccer on Thursday nights, try to spend time painting and drawing every day, and am obsessed with reading science. I’m also helping to organize an epic health conference and I’m distracted with supporting loved ones who are struggling with difficult health problems.
To make matters worse, I tend towards high anxiety. Worry seems coded deeply into my DNA. So suddenly hitting this cosmic PAUSE button and then having it all be still is really, I mean really, hard for me. So this article is as much for me as for anyone else reading it. I want to learn how to meditate. I want to do it, not just talk about it or flirt with it.
Benefits of meditation supported by science
There are good scientific reasons to learn to meditate that go far beyond FOMO or trends. While some benefits to meditating may be over-stated because of studies with small sample sizes, Harvard researchers found evidence that meditation has significant benefits, especially in treating depression, anxiety, and pain.
There are a handful of key areas—including depression, chronic pain, and anxiety—in which well-designed, well-run studies have shown benefits for patients engaging in a mindfulness meditation program, with effects similar to other existing treatments.” ~The Harvard Gazette
So I asked a friend and colleague who meditates every day to help me learn how to meditate.
Her name is Robyn Charron. She’s a mom of two, a lawyer, and one of the smartest and busiest people you’ll ever meet.
If anyone can teach me (I mean us) how to meditate, it’s Robyn.
Ready to banish your monkey mind? Here’s what we need to do.
How to Meditate in 9 Easy Steps
by Robyn Charron
1. Find a quiet room where you won’t be interrupted, can’t hear any noise. Lock the door.
2. Sit on a pillow on the floor. Your spine should be perfectly straight. Sit Indian style.
3. If you have a slumber mask, put it on. Otherwise, make sure you’re not facing the sun in a window. Turn off the lights.
4. Spend 5 minutes slowing your breathing. Inhale for a count of 6. Hold for 6. Exhale for a count of 6. Inhale-hold-exhale-inhale-hold-exhale. Don’t keep your lungs empty. Inhale again right away. Your focus here is on the tip of your nose, on the cold sensation of air entering the nostrils.
5. Then switch to imagining the life force energy of your body following your breath. Breath normally, no longer controlled. On the inhale, the energy follows your breath up the left side of the spine. On the exhale the energy follows the breath down the right side of the spine.
6. On the inhale mentally think “hong” and on the exhale think “sau.” This is the mantra. “Hong” is the sound our bodies make when we inhale and “sau” is the sound of our exhale. When outside thoughts creep in, dismiss them, only think of the mantra. Do this for 10 minutes.
7. Raise your eyes, with closed lids, to the point between the eyebrows. This changes everything.
8. Shift your focus again to the feeling of life-breath entering your nostrils, and that energy flowing to the point between the brows, and back out again as a cycle with each breath. By now you are 15 minutes in and it should be easier to have a clear mind.
9. Keep your eyes raised under the lids. This is the point I start to feel connected. I ask for help, for healing. I give thanks, ask for guidance. I have heard things, I have seen images, I have had thoughts arrive as a knowing. Try to do this part for a half hour.
Breaking it down to doable
After reading this was your first thought, “Yeah, right, sounds great but I could never fucking do this.”? Or were you thinking, “I’m too busy. No way.”?
If the settle-in time plus half an hour feels overwhelming, let’s make sure we get started with something we’ll actually do, not just talk about.
Steps 1 through 3 just take a little planning. Find a good spot and a decent time when you won’t be interrupted. Find a slumber mask to chill your wandering eyes. Get settled. This is a quick routine you can do every time you meditate to build a habit.
Step 4-8 calls for about 5-12 minutes. Don’t force yourself to sit for that long if it doesn’t feel manageable. Instead, start with 2-4 minutes. Set a timer so you won’t be checking the clock every 30 seconds.
Step 9 is wonderful. The time of being fully present. Let it be what it is to start. Eventually, the time you spend meditating will grow. While you’re sitting there quietly imagine that time: when the habit of meditation replaces the nagging feeling that you should be meditating and the negative self-talk about your hectic, busy life.
Does any of this resonate with you? Tell us about your starts and stops, your successes and struggles. Let’s get real and make some small steps together toward living a healthier, more vibrant life.
Other articles about vibrant living:
- How To Be a Better Person in the New Year
- Art for Art’s Sake Will Make You Healthier
- The Power of Habit
About Robyn Charron: Prior to attending law school, Robyn Charron earned a bachelor of science in biology and worked for two years in laboratories researching genetic disease. When her firstborn suffered a vaccine injury at two months old, her conventional parenting went out the window. She ushered in a world of organic food, immune-boosting supplements, Traditional Chinese Medicine, healing oils, and non-toxic living. A nationally known advocate for allergy awareness and parents’ rights to make medical decisions for their children without government intervention, Robyn Charron has written extensively about the dangers of food allergies.
Published: February 27, 2020
Last update: June 22, 2020