by Liz Jansen
Meditation has been part of my daily practice for ages, however this year I’ve ramped it up. I’m often asked for meditation ideas—how to get started and what to do when you meditate. The short answer is just to start and focus on breathing. Even five minutes a day will make a noticeable difference over time. I’ve shared my routine below.
Engaging in a deeper practice arose from recognizing the need to establish a more balanced life, devoting more attention to mind and spirit. It’s made a huge difference for me, helping with focus, clarity, patience, and decision-making—for starters. Read more benefits of meditation here. I picture it like plugging an electric vehicle into the charging station. Meditation plugs you into the universal collective spirit and recharges you for the day. Click to Tweet.
Meditation is basically inhaling cleansing breaths, exhaling detritus and a simple practice, with no apps, can be very effective. That’s how I started. My practice has evolved to what I’ve described below, focusing on breathing while systematically working my way through each chakra. If you’re not familiar with chakras, here’s a primer.
- Pillow for head, cushion under knees, blanket. Or comfortable straight-backed chair.
- Smart phone and headset.
- Meditation App. I use Michael Stone’s Meditation App, available for a variety of devices. It comes with Guided Meditations, Silent Meditations with bells (to help with timing) and an ability to personalize how you use it.
- Choose a convenient time.
- Choose a quiet place.
- Get into a routine, even when you don’t feel like it. Meditate at the same time in the same place every day. I do it as soon as I get up, before checking email, Facebook, Twitter, or the news. It sets the stage for the day by clearing and opening my mind.
- Sit up or lie down, keeping your spine straight. Go with whatever works best for you. I used to sit, but when I broke my ankle that became too uncomfortable so I began lying on the floor. It works well for me, especially now that my meditations are almost an hour long. Very occasionally I’ll doze off, but when that happens, I acknowledge I needed sleep more than the meditation.
- Put on headset, close your eyes, and start the app (if using).
- I start with one of the guided meditations. Lately I’ve been listening to Working with Thoughts. It clears my mind and gets me into meditative breathing.
- You can make the meditation as simple as you want. At the most basic level use a silent meditation, set the timer, and focus on your breath. Simple is best, especially when you’re starting. If that’s the case, you need read no further.
- Select the program you’d like to use. I’ve personalized a 40 minute Silence with a bell every five minutes—equal time for each chakra. The Tibetan meditation chime enhances rather than detracts from my concentration.
- Focus always on the breath. I count breaths to help me. If I lose track, I just pick up anywhere. At the same time I’m visualizing the inhale bringing in pure, crystal clear energy and the exhale carrying out debris—the thoughts and feelings that are working against rather than with me—that is vaporized before it leaves my energy field.
- Systematically visualize this working through each of eight chakras beginning at the base.
- Visualize the chakra color, while staying focused on your breath. I intentionally visualize a word and image I associate with each chakra. Use the word or image that comes to your mind, and don’t be concerned if it changes.
- Open your eyes slowly and gently. Begin moving, giving yourself time to get used to your surroundings.
Here are the specific colors, words, and images I use. Feel free to adopt, or use your own.
- Root: Red, blood, community and tribe
- Sacral: Orange, creativity and abundance; fiery energy coming in through the left side and being shared out through the right.
- Solar Plexus: Yellow, Power. Sun. Sometimes sunflowers.
- Heart: Green, Love. Old growth cedar forest. Primordial.
- Throat: Blue, Voice. Walking along the beach with ocean breezes, blue ocean, blue sky.
- Third Eye: Indigo. Intuition. Outer space, stars, planets, endlessness.
- Crown: Violet. Joy. Infusing joy, peace, contentment.
- Spirit: Grace. White and gold. Formless energy, connected to Spirit. This chakra is above the seven chakras usually referred to.
Is meditation part of your daily practice? What works best for you? We’d love to hear about it.