What Is Meditation?
A set of ancient practices as old as humankind (the first recorded evidence of meditation dates back 45,000 to the Indian subcontinent!) that have deep potential for supporting our modern life — from the fractured attention brought on by multi-tasking to our overburdened busy-ness & overloaded stress levels to helping us find better access to sleep & good rest.
Rather than thinking about meditation as a set of monastic, spiritual practices that are inaccessible to you (or yet another self-improvement plan to add to your to-do list), I’d love to invite you to think of meditation a practice of remembering what you already carry within you — a way into the natural presence & calm that is your birthright. A place inside you that you can touch in with, again & again, whenever you need to.
Modern science now confirms the benefits that meditators & yogis have long enjoyed. You can check out some of the books & resources listed below — or begin with these 3 simple practices to find out for yourself!
How to Meditate - 3 simple practices
Arriving Practice - Settling into the Present Moment
Find a comfortable seat. Take a moment to simply sit & get grounded. Place your hands on your thighs, palms facing down. Close your eyes & allow your attention to turn inward, taking in less of the room, people, and distractions around you. Begin breathing deeply & slowly. Let your breath be audible at first — using your sense of sound to help settle you into this moment. Sense the foundation of your seat — all the parts of your body that touch the ground. And from this steady point, rise up light through your spine & sit even taller. Sit quietly like this as long as you’d like, eyes closed & gaze turned inward, observing your body, listening to the sound of your breath. Arrive in this moment of natural wakefulness & attention.
Focusing on the Exhale - The Practice of Letting Go
Find a comfortable seat, palms facing down in the lap to ground you or facing up to invite a sense of alertness & energy into your body. You can close the eyes or soften the gaze down toward the ground. Once you’ve steadied yourself in your body, begin to turn the attention to your breath, most especially the out-breath. You can let the inhales arrive naturally & with ease in the body and let your attention settle around the full release of breath on the exhale. Let the attention ride all the way to the end of the exhale & pause in the spaciousness of being completely empty of breath. Use the exhale to release not only the breath, but any physical sensations, thoughts, or emotions that no longer serve you. Each breath out, an opportunity to let go.
Quieting the Monkey Mind - Find the Space Between Your Thoughts
How to Meditate, by Pema Chodron
When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron
Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body by Daniel Goleman & Richard J. Davidson
Radical Acceptance, by Tara Brach
A Women’s Book of Meditation, by Hari Kaur Khalsa
Tara Brach’s Website & Wednesday Night Talks
The Insight Meditation Community of Washington
If you want to learn more about meditation - send us an email at email@example.com to set up a private session or series of sessions & get more access to our online meditation offerings.