Nuts and Bolts

by bkajlich

It occurred to me today that it might be a good idea to give a brief run down on the basics of how I meditate.  As I sat this evening I reflected on how this simple technique has completely changed my life.  I have suffered from anxiety attacks since the age of 19, and meditation has been the only effective means of dealing with them….. I have never been a fan of taking medication(don’t even like to take aspirin) and to be honest, no prescription ever came close to helping me the way meditation has.  The technique that I practice is Vipassana meditation, which means “insight in to the nature of reality”.  While some meditation techniques consist of concentrating on an outside object such as a candle, and others use the repetition of a mantra, vipassana focuses on the breath.  There is no right or wrong meditation technique, it is simply a matter of finding what works for you.  I like vipassana for it’s simplicity and the fact that I can basically do it anywhere discreetly, which is a plus when you start to feel a bit anxious in the company of strangers and don’t want people to think you’re a nutjob :p  So here’s how it goes:  I sit cross legged, but you can do it sitting in a chair with your feet planted firmly on the floor and hands flat on your thighs.  You can also do it lying flat on your back, but I avoid that because I usually fall asleep.  If you choose to sit cross legged, a meditation cushion is a must so that you sit at a higher point with your back straight and knees touching the ground.  Hands can be clasped in your lap, or on your thighs.  I close my eyes and usually start with a couple deep breaths, and then allow myself to fall into a natural breathing pattern.  I focus on the sensation of my breath right at the opening of my nostrils…..I try to feel it as I inhale and then again on the exhale.  If you have trouble finding the sensation it sometimes helps to open a window or door so that the air you are inhaling is cooler and more noticeable.  I continue to breathe naturally in and out, focusing on the sensation of my breath.  Eventually, I find myself engaged in some thought; usually it’s thinking about my day, or something that’s happened like a conversation I just had with someone.  It always surprises me how long it takes to realize that I am no longer focused on my breath but knee deep in some detailed thought about something.  It’s amazing how seductive our thoughts are!! So when I find myself thinking, I simply return my attention to my breath and repeat the whole cycle over again.  And by the way, never get discouraged or frustrated when you realize you have lost your focus on the breath… it is a fantastic moment of awareness and should be celebrated as such!! And always be gentle with yourself, there is truly no wrong way to meditate.  I usually set a timer for myself, and for a beginner, 5 minutes once or twice a day is more than enough.  That’s really all there is to it! Focus on the breath as it comes in and goes out, don’t force it.  When you find yourself engaged in a thought, gently return your focus to the breath.  That’s it!  It might not feel like much, but you are training your mind to be in the moment and to not get entangled in your thoughts.  It’s so simple, and yet it is completely life changing.  I hope some of you will try it! Please let me know if you do. Happy Meditating! xx