"Meditation is simply the practice of stopping and looking deeply."
-Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Sit
I tense my right butt cheek when I meditate.
It took me a while to realize. My right foot would always fall asleep, but I just chalked it up to not knowing how to sit properly.
For many reasons in addition to my leg falling asleep, I hadn't made a habit out of sitting and meditating. I put a lot of pressure on myself to have a regular long meditation in the morning. And just like with anything else that I put pressure on myself to do (cough... writing ...cough), I end up not doing it at all.
It wasn't until I allowed myself to be a beginner again that I was able to maintain a meditation practice every morning. I started doing the one-minute meditation outlined below, then moved up to three minutes, and now I start every morning with five minutes of meditation.
Good for You Like Spinach
I'll save all of the science-backed benefits of meditation for another day, because I truly believe you should just experience it for yourself. As I've mentioned in a previous post, don't be like me and expect to enter nirvana. Meditation isn't sunshine and rainbows. It takes work.
Meditation is good for you in the way that spinach is good for you (science says no one likes eating spinach). So, start meditating with this short and simple practice.
Simple 1-Minute Meditation
1. Set a timer for one minute
2. Sit on a cushion or chair
Make sure your knees are lower than your hips (your feet will fall asleep if you don't)
Elongate your spine, slightly lean forward, relax your shoulders, and place your hands wherever they are comfortable (mine are usually palms up on my knees because I think I'm cool)
Lie on your back if you don't like sitting (weirdo)
Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor
If you fall asleep, your knees will fall and it will wake you up
You'll definitely fall asleep if you lie down, just saying
3. Close your eyes
4. Take an enormous breath in and out
Breathe in through your nose and feel your belly get as large as possible
Sigh out the breath through your mouth
Roar like a lion (just kidding. I mean, you can if you want)
5. Breathe naturally
Now that you are aware of your breath, it will be hard to breathe naturally at first
It's like telling you not to think about a horse-sized duck (creepy, right?)
6. Pick an anchor for your attention
Options include, but aren't limited to: your nostrils, your belly, your rib cage, your chest
You will focus on your anchor for the duration of your meditation
When you become aware that you have lost focus on your anchor (this will happen 6 billion times), return your attention back to your anchor
If you are any sort of normal person, your thoughts will wander off immediately. That makes you human. The mind's natural tendency is to think about the past or future. The ability to ruminate on the past and plan for the future is what differentiates us as human beings from other animals. It is also the cause of immense stress and suffering. Gaining a little bit of control over those thoughts helps ease life's burdens.
Try your best to become aware of your mind-wandering, kindly acknowledge that you are a human and it is completely normal to wander off, and, finally, bring your attention back to your anchor. The entire meditation practice is about noticing your thoughts and beginning again.
So, begin again. And relax your butt cheeks.