What's the best way to meditate?
One of my long-time yoga students recently pointed out that my answers to questions in class are usually a variation of, “It depends! Here's why...” Today, I thought I’d offer a similarly squishy answer to a question I field often. “What’s the best way to meditate?” Meditation can seem intimidating and mysterious when you’re new to it, can’t it? There are endless techniques out there and you may have heard just as many rules about how to do it “correctly:” You should meditate sitting on the ground with your legs crossed. You should never meditate after a meal. You should meditate for at least 30 minutes. You should meditate before dawn. You should clear your mind and not think of anything. Alright, let’s get real. The best way to meditate is the way you’ll actually practice. We show up to life a little bit differently every day, even every moment. Sometimes you’re short on time and sometimes you’ve got the whole day off. Sometimes you’re in pain or tired, and sometimes you’re buzzing with energy. Sometimes you want to focus on supporting yourself and sometimes you want to send love elsewhere. Sometimes you want to focus on your breath and sometimes you want to visualize you’re at the beach. If spending a half hour trying to clear your mind of how much it hurts your back to sit unsupported on the ground sounds like a very boring form of torture, please don’t do that!
Meditation will be far more supportive and restful if the way you meditate meets your current needs.
There are days when I meditate sitting, and others when I prefer to lie on the ground with my calves resting in a chair or my legs up the wall.
Sometimes I meditate (with my eyes open!) at stop lights or by minding my breath while I’m walking.
Some days I sit and meditate for 30 minutes and some days I may only take 30 seconds.
It may not sound like much, but without a doubt, I benefit more from 30 seconds of slowing down than 0 seconds.
Meditation doesn’t have to follow any rigid rules to be helpful.
That said, as much as it can be a really powerful instrument for self care, you don’t have to meditate often (or at all) to take good care of yourself. And much like eating a salad or going to Crossfit, meditation doesn’t make you a more virtuous person.
It can, however, be a helpful way to relate to yourself and your body more objectively and compassionately.
If you’re in the mood to meditate but need a little bit of inspiration, try out one of the links below. They both center around breathing and can be practiced for just a minute or two, or you can use the technique to practice on your own for longer periods of time.