Anyone who has become part of the Yoga community or begun their personal journey toward inner peace has heard about the benefits of meditation. It helps you focus, clears your mind, helps you sleep, helps you relax and release tension, improves your cognitive and intuitive abilities, reduces stress, lowers your blood pressure, and so much more. So many of my students talk about wanting to incorporate more meditation into their lives. So what's stopping them? Why aren't we all meditative masters?
I think part of the issue is that we don't have a routine for it. Many people feel like meditation needs to involve an hour (or maybe even more) of sitting and struggling to achieve the still and quiet mind and body. I feel like that's similar to asking someone to jump off the high dive before they even know how to swim. Meditation can start as a simply relaxation practice that you do once or twice a day. You can do this when you wake up, when you go to sleep, or anytime that you have a few minutes for yourself. It can take as little as 5 minutes, and you will still get all the benefits you desire.
Here's my Five Minute Meditation. Make sure you're in a place where you can be alone for just a few minutes. I would not recommend doing this while standing or engaged in an activity like driving, because you will not be paying attention outside of your body. Start by sitting up very straight and tall. Place your feet flat on the floor. Many people focus better when their eyes are closed, but you don't have to close them if you don't want to. Bring your focus to your breathing. Breathe in through your nose. Breathe out through your mouth. As you breathe, think to yourself "breathe in, breathe out." You can say this softly to yourself or just hold the thoughts in your mind. Thinking "breathe in, breathe out" as you do the action helps connect your mind and body. It also helps quiet the mind chatter. You can also think "breathe in, breathe out. relax, release" if you would rather.
As you continue quietly saying this little mantra and breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, imagine a bright, warm, white light pouring into your body from above the crown of your head. It flows all the way down your body filling every space, organ, joint, and cell all the way down to the soles of your feet. If you are not a visual person, try to imagine the feeling of warmth pouring over you and filling your being. It doesn't have to be an image, and there is no need to struggle with it if the image isn't there. Once you are filled with the warm, comforting, white light, let it drain completely way through the bottoms of your feet down into the earth, carrying away any tension or pain you feel, where it is release and resolved outside of your body. Focus into the center of your chest, where the heart chakra is. Focus on the feelings of joy, happiness, laughter and allow those feelings to spread, filling all of the empty space left behind when the white light drained away. Then you simply say "Thank You," and end your meditation.
That's all there is to it. You can take as little as 5 minutes or as long as an hour to do this if you choose. But there is absolutely no excuse not to incorporate this very simple, short exercise into your daily practice. You may be very surprised how much you gain from so little effort on your path toward inner peace. Breathe in. Breath out. Relax. Release.