Want better focus, memory, emotional intelligence, and decision making ability? But wait, there’s more! What if we said you can have better focus, memory, emotional intelligence and decision making ability with just 5 minutes of daily practice? We imagine you would take us up on the offer. That offer, by the way, has a name: Meditation.
While the research is pretty clear on the benefits of meditation or mindfulness, we often encounter leaders who struggle to take that first step towards developing a practice. With that in mind, we developed a short, tangible list of insights to help you get started on a meditation practice.
1. Decide How Long You Want to Meditate
Begin with sessions between 5 and 20 minutes in length. Practice daily, even if for only 5 minutes. Continuity matters.
2. Find a Suitable Environment
Find a quiet environment where you feel suitably free from distraction and interruption.
3. Clarify Your Intentions
When beginning a session, clarify and commit to your intention for practicing this meditation. Generate your intention from your own kind heart.
4. Position Your Body
Sit in whatever position suits you best (chair or meditation cushion), relaxed and alert, with a straight spine.
5. Relax Your Eyes
Gently close your eyes and then open them just enough for your vision not to be blurred. Gaze gently forward and then down at roughly a 45 degree angle.
6. Focus on Your Breath
Relax your breathing, allowing it to be gentle and natural. Inhale and exhale through your nose as you guide your breath into your belly. Your belly will then expand and release with your inhalations and exhalations. Let it expand as you inhale and release as you exhale.
7. Feel Your Body
Recognize and attend to your breathing by feeling its movements through your body. This awareness and experience of breathing is your anchor to being present. This meditation can be summed up as the vivid experiencing of present bodily sensations and the clear observation of mental process. Attend to both (body and mind) with an attitude of non-distracted, non-reactive care and curiosity.
8. Observe Your Thoughts
Observe whatever you experience with an attentive attitude of care and curiosity. As you observe these thoughts and feelings, relax your tendency to resist them, retain them, or react to them in any way. Allow thoughts and feelings to come and go, come and go. Thoughts and emotions are not the problem, and getting rid of them is not the solution.
9. Return to the Present Moment
When you recognize your attention has wandered and/or become lost in distraction, then refocus again on your breath and bodily sensation in order to return to present moment awareness. Attend to whatever you experience with both a non-judgmental care and compassionate curiosity. This is especially important when you experience confusion, discouragement, or anxiety.
10. Enhance Your Practice Through Time
Keep your meditation practice simple and natural. Don’t make it complicated. When upset, don’t avoid sitting. Hard as it may be, it is crucial to sit when difficulties arise. Our practice is about our life, and we practice forever. No one is able to finish this practice, and no one is exempt from its need. Continuity matters.
These insights were developed to be easily implemented and accessible to anyone interested in exploring meditation. There are also apps like Headspace and Insight Timer that can help with establishing a practice. Whatever route you go, the point is to get into a rhythm, focus on keeping that continuity every single day, and stay in touch with how your orientation and mindset shifts over time.