Basic Tips and Exercises

Two Basic Tips for Practicing Meditation

1. Breathing

Breathing is an activity that we have been doing since the moment we were born. As we go about our busy lives, we take our breathing for granted. What we don’t realize is that as we become more and more consumed by our busy lifestyles, we have lost our ability to breathe consciously — taking slow and long breaths from the diaphragm. With each inhalation, we bring fresh energy into our bodies. With each exhalation, we release tension from our bodies.

Breathing consciously is an effective way to enable us to maintain mindfulness. It is an essential component of meditation — centre yourself by focusing on your breath.

(Source: Gay Hendricks, Conscious Breathing: Breathwork for Health, Stress Release, and Personal Mastery, 1995, New York: Bantam Books, ISBN 0-553-37443-5.)

How to do Conscious Breathing

When you inhale deeply, your belly should inflate like a balloon.
When you exhale, your belly should deflate/collapse.

2. Your Thoughts

As you meditate, various thoughts and feelings will surface, even as you are concentrating on breathing. Know that you don’t have to judge your thoughts and feelings, or chase them away because you deem them to be disruptive.

Just acknowledge the existence of each thought or feeling as it arises — this is how you become mindful of your thoughts and feelings. For instance, if you experience a feeling of anger, recognize it simply by noting: “My neighbours are making a lot of noise at this late hour. I feel annoyed.”

Then, allow the thought and feeling to leave naturally from your mind.

(Source: Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation, Boston: Beacon Press, 1976, ISBN 0-8070-1201-7)

Menu of Meditation Exercises/Activities

1. Half-Smile and Breathe throughout your day.

2. Sitting Meditation

Try any of the various sittings poses you can manage comfortably:

Variation 1: Pebble Meditation (about 30 minutes)

Variation 2: Institute a sitting meditation time and let others know about it.

Your friends or relatives can come and join you in sitting meditation.

3. Listening to Music Meditation

4. Household Chores Meditation

Make it a weekly ritual: institute a time period for performing a household chore in a state of mindfulness.

Whether you are washing dishes or clothes, or cleaning up the house, do your chore in the following fashion:

5. Bathing in slow-motion

(Source: Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation, Boston: Beacon Press, 1976, ISBN 0-8070-1201-7)

When you are ready try out more Advanced Meditation Exercises .