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Why I meditate more now than ever

My meditation sessions calm my breathing and help me to focus.

Meditation brings more focus and pursues happiness regardless of religious beliefs.

Let's explore a journey towards simplified meditation.

Misperceptions about meditation

I previously thought meditation was religious - maybe New Age, Hindu or Buddhist. Or a mix of Eastern religious beliefs. That stereotype was not compatible with my two beliefs of Christianity and diverse inclusive equality. Around a year ago, I discovered some resources for relaxation regardless of religious traditions.

Getting past the clutter of meditation resources

Then I became overwhelmed by the sea of media sources and digital guides for meditation. There were so many apps, books, podcasts, videos and web sites. Actual practices also seemed unrealistic. I opened an app on the train, ready to make use of this time, to become a relaxed person. The app told me to listen to music and audio instructions. I wasn't ready to plus earphones in public and ignore the outside world. Meditation at home should have been a good idea. But I live in an apartment that has shiny tiles. That floor is not comfy. How could I sit cross-legged and do a manoeuvre? Great. "I couldn't possibly find serenity and inner peace," I thought. I wanted to meditate. But it just seemed too complicated.

Finally understanding meditation

Now my understanding of meditation is more simple. I coincidentally attended two in-person face-to-face sessions within one week. It just happened. A mentor also guided super simple meditative mindful breathing practices. Understanding fell into place.

I realised that meditation is not about specific bodily positions, fancy technology and waterfall music. That stuff is all fun. But extras are not essential for the basic meditative journey. Basic meditation is accessible for anyone.

Meditating in a large group

The first meditation class was in a large space. Most people sat on the floor, but some of us got comfy on chairs. I'm still nervous about crossing my legs because of the injury that impacted my left leg and knee a year ago. So I sat on a chair and simply didn't worry about what anyone else thought. Who cares if we sit on the ground or the floor?

Mostly with closed eyes, the many people in this hall became mindful of themselves and surroundings. So that's what meditation is all about. I gained awareness of my breathing, my body, the air and subtle nearby sounds. That's all I did. I sat in a comfortable position and focused on the immediate tangible sensory stimuli. This practice was achievable and liberating.

Practicing meditation with a few people

The next session was in a small room with just a few people. Equipped with a yoga mat for comfort, I felt ready to meditate on the floor. This was not a 'better' way to practice. It was just different. We gained similar mindfulness like the last place - breathing, feeling the cool air, hearing sounds. All of us felt extremely relaxed, especially when laying flat on the floor. One person even fell asleep. Now I know what methods align with my preferences. I like to be comfy but also awake.

Guided mindfulness breathing exercises

A mentor insisted that I work on my breathing. I was brought back to very basic breathing exercises. This method of deep breathing is used by singers and speakers. I slowly inhaled, held for a moment, then exhaled. My tummy muscles controlled a stronger breathing. Tis feels more fulfilling than inhalation from only the chest. My abdomen pushed out like a balloon, as I filled more air into my body. Then I pushed the air out for the exhaling, squeezing my tummy in just a bit for more breathing out. That was extremely simple. I completed this breathing exercise from the comfort of a lounge. Past and present stressed went out of my mind - at least for a moment. Those mindful meditative breathing techniques were so achievable. I successfully focused on the air in my body. Resources would have been fun, but fancy extra tools are not essential.

Self Guided Meditation

Mindful breathing is one of the easiest forms of meditation. There's nothing wrong with adding sounds, smells and comfortable decor for the meditative experience. But they are just extras. I would happily experiment with aromatherapy. A serene playlist on Spotify could provide something to focus on. Apps like Calm and Headspace are great for timing the session and having structured steps. But a lack of access to resources shouldn't stop anyone from meditating. Wear a watch to keep an eye on timing. Write down a few steps on a piece of paper. Or just close your eyes and follow the experience wherever it takes you. Everyone can meditate.

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Where this information came from:

I'm not a guru or expert on meditation. Actually, I just got started and am still figuring it out. A few sessions with various guides brought me closer to a relaxing meditative ritual, without religious connotations. The mindfulness and deep breathing help me to feel more focused and awake. Maybe some of these ideas will work for you. Please try and pursue your own meditative journey. Look for expert sources. Experiment with different methods. Good luck.

Melanie Suzanne Wilson

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