How To Meditate

November 3, 2022

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There are many different ways to practice meditation in order to achieve a calm mind. As the mind begins to quiet, our relationship with the world around us begins to change and deepen, creating space for us to process and navigate through life more effectively.

There is no cookie cutter approach to meditation. The director of the neuroscience lab at University of Wisconsin, Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., told The New York Times “In Buddhist tradition, the word ‘meditation’ is equivalent to a word like ‘sports’ in the U.S. It’s a family of activities, not a single thing.” There are many different types and approaches to meditation, with each practice requiring a different set of mental skills.

The most simple approach is the concentration method. This involves simply focusing on a single point, from your breath, the flame of a candle, a word or mantra, a musical tone, counting the beads on a mala, or even coloring. When you catch your thoughts wandering, you simply let it drift away like bubbles, and bring your attention back to your focal point. You may find this to be difficult at first, but with time and practice, you will notice your ability to concentrate improves. This impacts your concentration both in meditation and in your every day life.

Mindfulness meditation is another common technique. Instead of focusing your thoughts on a specific point, you allow your mind to observe the ebbs and flows of thinking, with no judgement or involvement. Simply bring your awareness to the mental notes as each one drifts through your thinking. Observe the emotions that come along with thought, but do not engage in the emotion. This practice allows you to develop an awareness that our human tendency is to judge emotion and experience as good or bad, right or wrong. Over time, you may notice improvement in your ability to maintain balance in spite of your circumstances.

Another simple form of meditation includes walking or moving meditation, where you focus intently on the full experience of being in your body while going through a specific movement. Bringing your attention to the physical sensations of your body allows you to develop a stronger mind-body connection, which in turn enhances your experience of yourself and your surroundings.

Guided Meditation Exercise

Guided Meditation
  1. Close your eyes and find a comfortable position in your chair. Take a moment to scan your body, and without judgment, notice your physical state. Bring your awareness to the sensations in your body. Starting at the top of your head, note how your head feels, your eyes, your temples, your jaw, your neck. Notice, without labeling bad or wrong, good or right, any tension, aches, or areas where you are clenching.
  2. Moving your attention down, allow yourself to feel your shoulders, your upper back, your chest. Where are you feeling your breath? Is it high in your chest, tight and shallow? Is it deep and full, expanding your lungs fully? There is no need to change or judge or shift your experience. Simply notice, and as you scan each area inquire into what is so.
  3. Continue to scan your mid and lower back, your abdomen, your arms, your elbows, your wrists, your hands and fingers. Is there any stiffness or pain? Are there any aches or tightness? Do you feel cold or warm? No judgment, simply notice what is so.
  4. Notice your hips and pelvis, your legs, your knees, your shins. Feel your weight in the chair. Feel your body being held upright. Continue to shift your body scan downward, to your ankles, your feet, your toes. Notice the sensation of your feet against the ground. Feel the soles of your feet as they connect you to the earth, and the earth to you.Your Content Goes Here
  1. Visualize your toes gripping into the earth and reaching down. Down towards to earth’s core. Down like roots, reaching towards the liquid magma center, the engine of our planet. Feel those roots drawing the fire from the earth upward towards your body, filling you with warmth from the ground up. Imagine your body drawing that warmth into all the places that ache or are tired or are sore. Soothing warm fire filling you to the brim. Imagine that fire rising until every crevice is glowing with the fluid energy of the earth, connecting you deeply to the ground.
  2. Imagine the fire rising to the top of your head and the tips of your fingers, bubbling out, and branching outward and upward like a tree. Reach out with that fire and feel the connection to the people around you. Reach up with that fire and connect to the universe above. Connect the energy of the ground and the energy of the people around you with the energy of the heavens. While still expanding outward, draw all of that energy towards your heart. Allow yourself to feel that expansion in your heart, pulsing with each beat, simultaneously connecting to all that surrounds you, while staying deeply connected to your heart.
  3. Now shift back to your breath again. Feel the coolness of the air in your throat, going down into your chest, and filling your lungs. Allow the sweet, cool sensation refresh your mind, clearing your head for the next experience to come. Feel your body in your chair again, and your feet on the ground. Allow yourself to land fully in your physical space. When you are ready, open your eyes.
Dr. Cox

Dr. Laura E. Cox, DAOM, NFMP, LAc, CHP, LMT

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