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Meditation 101: Being Still in 5 Simple Steps

meditation

It sounds simple. It’s just sitting, right? If you’ve ever tried to meditate, then you understand.  It’s not easy at first. It’s uncomfortable. It’s a long process to train your body to establish your seat of being in the complete stillness of meditation, but it’s completely worth it.

We’re constantly projecting out, looking outside ourselves whilst existing in the material world—so naturally it’s difficult to look inwards. Physically, emotionally, mentally and energetically—it’s going to feel weird and awkward and first. But right now is where it begins to shift! If you have a desire to incorporate a daily meditation practice into your life, that is the first and very step towards establishing a consistent, habitual, constant practice.

After making this commitment, here are 5 steps to becoming still:

1) Sit On a Pillow

When you’re sitting cross-legged and your hips are higher and more elevated than your legs, it helps in the articulation of the natural curvatures of your spine to have a pillow to sit on. *Look at the drawing above* When you’re sitting on the floor without a pillow, it’s easier to find yourself susceptible to poor posture and hunching forward than when sitting on a pillow and keeping your spine upright. Your hip flexors become more spacious from the lengthening that naturally occurs in your quadriceps which therefore causes your belly to use its muscles—meaning you’re using your core! Automatically the bandhas slightly engage. Look at how the entire body assembles itself into proper positioning as long as your spine is in its innate state!

2) Align Your Spine

meditation

Your spine is made up of 24 vertebras– not including the sacrum and coccyx. 7 cervical (neck area), 12 thoracic (ribcage area) and 5 lumbar (lower back area). Your spine should have an inward, rainbow like curve behind your neck and your lower back. *Look at the drawing above* This, by its own nature, awakens the bandhas and opens the throat center. When your spine is in its optimal alignment, you have the space and opportunity for your craniosacral fluid (aka your duramater) to be in full mobility of flow. When there’s stagnation in your craniosacral fluid, disconnection of mind body signals occurs within your bodymind . We want aligned bones and optimal momentum and unhindered dialogue of all our body parts to our minds. CranioSacral Therapy assists in this process.

3) CranioSacral fluid…what?!

A sheath of fluid called craniosacral fluid (duramatar) protects the electrical hardware of your nervous system. If this layer of protection didn’t exist, the body would literally fry. When your spine is not held properly, and vertebras are stacked in a convoluted, unclear shape, a block happens within this fluid. When there is a block, there’s pain, miscommunication, heaviness, density, and thickness around this area of the body. For example, if you have a block or coiled nerves around your lower back/sacrum area, there will be an obstructed flow of communication to your legs. The wiring that extends out through the lower back shoots out and down to your feet so you want to have a clear, conscious positioning of not just your posture for the physical aspect but for all internal dwellings of your body as well. As Henry David Thoreau says, “Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows.” As a natural yogi, he understood.

4) If You’re Still Not Still

If sitting upright is still uncomfortable, sit in front of a wall so you can lean back for assistance while building new muscle memory around your body. If that’s not working, sit in a chair with your legs at a 90-degree angle. If your body is still not comfortable, your mind will never be able to be calm. If you’re fidgety and irritated sitting, do more asana. Asana is designed to open the body enough to be able to sit for meditation. This is the purpose behind the asana sequencing– to sweat and purify your body enough to make it unobstructed and spacious enough to where the majority of the disturbances are removed.

5) Close Your Eyes

Beginning with 5 minutes a day, at the same time, everyday, sit your ass down and breathe. Once your body and mind become attuned to this new practice, start adding on more minutes. Show your bodymind that you can do it and gently begin to give yourself more of a challenge. Don’t get crazy and give yourself a goal of 30 minutes when you first start and expect yourself to succeed. It’s hard stuff, sitting down and closing your eyes—congratulate yourself on even having the yearning and desire to do it!  Meditation requires will power and internal strength. Remember your intention and reasons for why you want this practice in your life in the first place to give yourself that extra umph.  Laugh at all the chit-chat and excuses your mind makes up of all the other “so important” things you need to do instead of meditating, and then shift them to the side. Sit down and close your eyes. You will feel amazing after you do it, I promise.

Photo Credit: Michael Dorausch, Illustration by Chloe Park
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