6 Ways to Meditate — Simple and Free
6 simple techniques to encourage meditation. Try each one and find what work best for you.
If you work to live, chances are you’re stressed. One of the best ways to start de-stressing today that won’t cost you anything, is to learn how to meditate.
First — sit in a comfortable position either crossing your legs on a cushion on the floor or sitting comfortably on a chair, the bed or the couch.
1. Zen Meditation — Counting your breath
Close your eyes. Breathe a normal breath in and then out — count it. One. Another breath in and out. Two. Do this until you reach ten and then start again at one.
2. Vipassana Meditation — one type (there are a few) is focusing on what’s around you.
This meditation starts with being aware of everything that’s happening around you. Close your eyes and become aware of your environment. If you hear a plane, muffled voices, your pet breathing or a door slam, focus on those sounds. If you feel pain in your body, focus on the pain. If you smell something, focus on the smell. As soon as the sound, feeling or smell is gone, search for the next one. You are attempting to become vastly aware of what is going on around you. The refrigerator hum, footsteps, a distant car alarm, etc. At some point the outer will fall away and you’ll notice the silence. Focus on that too. The advantage of this is two-fold, in this moment you can notice your mind and the ability to create your own expansiveness within the space itself. You may not achieve this silence right away and everyone experiences it or interprets it differently. You can also use Vipassana meditation to become aware of the thoughts of your mind and then lovingly let them go, watching them like a movie without judgment. I enjoy this form of meditation while on an airplane or a train. It keeps me quiet and in a peaceful state for a long time.
If you want to learn Vipassana meditation through a “class”, there are free ten day retreats offered by Dhamma.org. These may currently be on hold due to Covid but I’m sure they’ll be offered again. I went to one and it was life changing.
3. The Red Dot Meditation
This is the first meditation I ever learned as a 12-year-old child. Close your eyes and imagine a red dot about an inch above the center of your eyebrows. Some people know this as the third eye. In acupuncture, it is the point known as yin tang. In India and other Hindi cultures, this is where the bindi is. Focus on that dot. When I was a kid I used to change it to different colors, which is fine as long as you remain focused on that area.
4. Mantra Meditation
There are many forms of this. You can go see Amma, The Hugging Guru (for free) and she will give you a mantra. You can choose an Indian mantra from the internet based on your favorite deity. Or, you can make up your own. It can be a word or a phrase. It can be as simple as the word “love” or something like “peace and gratitude”. You can take a class in TM (Transcendental Meditation) where they give you your own mantra (it’s pricey it but can be worth it and significant student discounts are available).
Whatever mantra you choose (and you can change it up), the idea is to repeat it silently over and over. That’s it.
5. Walking Meditation
I love walking meditation! You walk slowly, eyes cast downward so you don’t trip and focus on your steps, you can count them or not. Or if you’re good at multi-tasking, you can walk and count your breath or recite a mantra. Regardless, the idea is to walk very, very slowly.
6. Exercise as Meditation
People who do extreme sports will find that their exercise is their meditation because if you don’t focus completely on what you are doing at every second you could seriously injure yourself. I have a friend who uses running as her meditation. I use aerial arts. Anything where you have to completely focus can be used. So, for example, if you’re riding your stationary bike at home and watching TV that is not meditation.
Overall meditation advice no matter which form/s you choose
If your mind wanders, that’s completely normal and just gently bring it back to your meditation (breath, sounds, dot, whatever). If you suddenly feel an inspiration or your mind is telling you that there are other things you need to be doing as soon as you’re done meditating, let it go. Those thoughts will still be there when you’re done. Don’t admonish yourself for having them. Be gentle with yourself. Acknowledge the thought and then go back to the meditation. If you feel panicked that you may forget something important, you can keep a pad of paper and pen next to you while you meditate and break your focus to write a reminder. This is not ideal but if it’s keeping you from focusing, you can try it.
Remember that many forms of meditation are to help you quiet your mind. If you can practice even one to five minutes a day, you will notice a tremendous difference. Your stress will lessen. You’ll be less reactive to your children, friends, spouse, other drivers… You’ll develop better planning skills, better organizing skills and a calmer demeanor. You’ll be able to relate more to the world and people around you.
There are dozens of types of meditation, more advanced forms can focus on listening to your mind and more. The point of this article is to give you some simple free tools to begin and find one that will work for you. This too can change over time. Like everything in life, meditation is fluid, not static. There are plenty of guided meditation apps as well but many of these are subscription based; however, there are free ones available on YouTube that you can try too.
Set a timer if you have time constraints. After the meditation is over, don’t jump up and go, go, go. Allow yourself a couple of minutes to “get back into your body”. It can be a mind-altering experience and you want to honor that. Ideally you want to meditate for fifteen to thirty a day and if you can eek out twice a day, you will be floored at the benefits you will receive, but even one minute a day is better than zero!
Start small and build up to set yourself up for success.
What are your favorite types of meditation that aren’t listed here?