Rule 4 of the Personal Kaizen 10 Rules for Life is to “Live in the Moment with a Positive Mindset.” Living in the moment is something we can all improve. One of the best ways to become more present is to begin a simple practice of meditation.
Meditation calms the mind, lowers blood pressure and stress, and improves focus. There are many different ways to meditate – if you are not currently prioritizing meditation in your life we recommend you experiment with the methods below.
Here are several simple meditation practices you can try today.
We will start by describing the basic steps in meditation before explaining variations.
- Take a seat: On the floor is typical, but a chair works too. The key is to be comfortable. Some people prefer to face the sun or sit outside in nature.
- Set a timer: We recommend the free insight timer app. Choose a short time (5-10 minutes) as a beginner and try for longer as you advance in the practice.
- Focus on your body and breath: Take a moment to relax your eyes, mouth and shoulders and feel the sensation of your breath as you inhale and exhale.
- Return to your breathing: When your mind wanders (it will) just notice it. Return to focusing on your breath. A successful session is noticing that your mind has wandered and bringing it back to the breathing. It is impossible to “fail” at this practice.
- Close: When your timer ends, gently open your eyes and notice your thoughts and how your body feels.
A listening meditation changes the focus from your breath to your sense of hearing. Once you relax your body, focus on listening to all the sounds in the world around you. Do not name, analyze, or reject the sounds. Just listen with wide-open awareness.
Many beginners benefit from a trainer or coach to guide them in their meditation. Your meditation practice will be guided and timed for you so you can learn the practice.
Headspace is a popular free resource for beginners. Get started by downloading the app or visiting the website.
Rather than sitting in one place, walk slowly while focusing your attention on sensations you normally take for granted, such as your steps, your breath entering or exiting the body, the sounds around you, or whatever your eyes notice.
As your mind inevitably wanders, simply try to bring it back to the focus on one of your sensations.
A hiking meditation focuses on your steps and the natural world around you. I will ensure sections of a hike (or entire hikes) are accomplished alone so I can focus on the path and the natural world. If you hike at a fast pace you can always meditate at the top of the mountain or whenever you reach your destination.
Hiking in nature is one way I can feel fully present in the moment.
Ideas for Action
Here are a few Personal Kaizen actions you can take today:
- Try one or all of the different meditation techniques above over the next week.
- Stick with the one or two methods that you enjoy and you can make a regular part of your day.
- Try to meditate daily, for at least one minute. Meditate for longer if you are able. Apps like Headspace and Insight Timer will help you develop the habit.
Successful meditation allows you to observe your thoughts without being immersed in them. It is akin to standing at a window looking out at the storm versus being in the storm. Observing your wandering thoughts (even if they are crazy, racing, unfocused, etc.) is the goal.
If you are meditating regularly then you are “doing it right.” You really can’t meditate improperly, but with practice, you will improve and experience more clarity and relaxation in your life.
Please add additional tips and resources on meditation in the comments below: