If you're curious about meditation, or looking to improve your practice, this article highlights the most important concepts you'll need on the path to becoming a real-life Yoda.
First and foremost, meditate in a comfortable way that will encourage you to continue the practice. We're all different so what works for one person, may not work for you.
You could sit next to a swamp in a creepy forest, or sit in the sunshine alongside peacocks. Your choice.
More seriously, if you want to sit in a chair, sit in a chair. If you can only do it for 5 minutes before you get antsy, do it for 5 minutes.
The most important part about meditation is REGULARITY - not how you sit or how long you sit for.
I recommend a regular meditation practice (along with journaling) to every single client because it offers the greatest reward for time invested. There is a reason the most busy people in the world (i.e. Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, George Lucas) schedule time to meditate everyday. So do I and so should you.
The person who least wants to do meditation, probably needs meditation the most.
Here are six concepts to help you start or continue a successful meditation practice:
Time of Day: "Morning Yoda does recommend." Right after you wake up your mind is relatively quiet. But... try practicing different times of day to find what works for you. Sometimes a mid-day stress reliever or a before-bed sleep inducer are nice too.
Length: Start with just a few minutes and work your way up as you get more comfortable. Some days you may find it easier to do longer, whereas busy days may necessitate a shorter time.
Location: Find a quiet, suitable location where ideally you can be undisturbed and return to at the same time each day. As one yogi put it, "Are you able to have a little room where you can close the door and be alone?”
Agenda: If self-guided, you can follow your breath (in/out, in/out), count breaths, count the length of each part of breath (in four count, out five count), focus on your third eye (point between your eyebrows), or feel a particular emotion (love, gratitude, fortune). Other focal points: chakras, rotation of senses, body scan (Vipassana style). Most importantly, if you find yourself caught up in thoughts (which is the case for everyone, even real-life Yoda, the Dalai Lama), just return to your focal point of choice each time. There is a reason they call it meditation PRACTICE.
Led Meditations: If you want a little more direction, try a led meditation. Headspace and Insight Timer are great apps to find meditation timers and incredible F-R-E-E led meditations. A few of my favorites meditations include singing bowls, solfeggio frequencies, a practice of forgiveness, and a gratitude meditation. Many yoga studios or other places near you may offer free meditation classes (even my chiropractor offers free classes). Meditating with a group can be a powerful experience.
**Life or meditation coaches can help improve your practice too. When I became stuck in my meditation practice, a coach helped me break on through to the other side [of the veil].
Posture: When starting, sit or lie comfortably in a way that will minimize distractions. Sorry, sleep ≠ meditation so if lying, be sure to stay awake! If sitting, ideally your back should be straight, but that may take time too. As you get more comfortable you can try sitting on the floor cross legged (or half/full lotus for you bendy folks) on a cushion with, and eventually without back support.
I know I said regularity was the most important, but also equally important is... find what works for you. And that may even change day-to-day.
For more tips on starting or improving your meditation practice, try Search Inside Yourself (written by a Google engineer, so great for left-brained folk like myself)
Thich Nhat Hanh's The Miracle of Mindfulness.
(Hanh is a prolific buddhist monk/author who has oodles of books on meditation, mindfulness, and Buddhism).
As if you needed more reasons to become Yoda-like, for further inspiration (including the superpowers that come with meditation), check out *Yogananda Pramahansa's Autobiography of a Yogi.
*One of my top most influential books of all time (George "Magpie" Harrison and Michael Singer agree. Who? Use Google.)
Godspeed young Padawan.
Too fidgety to sit still? Check out my post on moving meditations.