Last updated on November 23rd, 2023.
There’s no denying that life can be stressful. As we race around throughout the day, it’s very common for our minds to fill with anxiety, worry, and fear. These toxic thoughts have a tremendous impact on both mind and body.
Many people don’t realize how deeply connected the mind and body actually are. The emotions you experience in your body are simply the physical manifestation of the thoughts you are thinking.
More and more people are discovering the benefits of Zen Meditation (the most essential practice of Zen Buddhism) as a way to live with the negative voice in their head. This voice never stops, and yet you can develop a more healthy relationship with it through meditation practices.
In this article we are going to touch on 5 simple steps to begin your meditation practice. They are:
- Find a place to sit
- Have good posture
- Close your eyes
- Create awareness
- Be present
The exact descriptions below are not hard and fast. For example, if you feel the need to meditate after driving in to work in the morning and are seating in your car, that’s absolutely fine!
Let’s take a look at the basic steps to begin meditating today.
1. Find a Place to Sit
The first step is to choose a place to sit. This could be a comfortable chair with a straight back, a meditation pillow, or simply sit on the floor. The key is to be as comfortable as possible so that the body can relax.
If you can, also try and find a place that is quiet and free of distraction. This will help with your meditation practice by assisting in keeping you mindful of your practice.
It’s important to sit with your spine nice and straight. This allows your breath to flow freely through your body. Relax your arms and rest your hands on your lap. Focus on strong posture so that your body can relax as fully as possible.
Now cross your legs or sit in the lotus position. The intention here is to position your body so that the mind can relax, enabling you to center yourself.
3. Close Your Eyes
Now you are ready for the meditation to begin. Close your eyes. Inhale a deep breath. Be aware of the breath as it fills your lungs.
Hold the breath for a beat, then exhale. The intention here is to experience the life-giving breath as it enters and exits the body.
The more you are able to focus the mind on the breath, the more the mind will relax and not focus on random thoughts that pull your attention away from being present.
“Meditation is the way we come to feel our basic inseparability from the whole universe”
4. Allow Yourself to Become Aware of Your Body
As you detach from your thoughts, allow your attention to go to the various parts of your body. Focus your attention on your toes, your legs, your fingertips, your lips, the top of your head.
Mindfulness meditation offers us a tool for being truly present, in this moment, without the need of being distracted by the past, which doesn’t exist, or the future, which is pure imagination.
5. Being Present
Continue to sit with your eyes closed. Experience your breath moving in and out of your lungs. This is the experience of being alive.
During this process, your thoughts will attempt to intrude. That’s fine. This happens with everyone, even those who have been meditating for years. When this happens simply make a ‘note’ of the thought and gently set it aside.
Once you’ve set the thought aside, return to your breath. Feel the fullness of your lungs as you inhale and then feel them empty upon the exhale.
You may become restless. This is perfectly normal. Again, gently push your impulses aside. As you practice this you will begin to build your muscle a attention.
Once the impulse passes and your attention leads back to your breath, simply sit there and be present.
As Jon Kabat Zinn says about meditation, “Don’t just do something, sit there.”
The Power of Zen Meditation
The simple truth is that zen meditation changes lives, that’s why Zen Buddhism continues to grow in popularity as a practice and philosophy. It’s a practice that allows each person the opportunity to experience a moment of peace, no matter where you are or what time of day. It costs nothing, and yet offers the mediator the chance to become one with the universe.