I first started meditation on my own in 2004 with my favourite mantra ‘on mani padme hum’.
Then, when I attended my first yoga class on 26 September 2006, the first 10-15 mins of yoga class will be a simple meditation exercise to help students to calm down, relax, and centre themselves before the yoga practice starts. At the end of the class, we will have Savasana, also known as the corpse pose, which is essentially lying down meditation.
As I attended yoga class after yoga class, I then began to view the entire yoga class as meditation in motion, where I only concentrated on each yoga pose and the breath, not thinking of anything else. Since I was a super-regular at the yoga centres for over a decade, I hoped I absorbed the full benefits of the practice.
The first meditation retreat I attended was a 7-day Buddhist meditation retreat on a mountain top in Chiang Mai, under the guidance of the honorable Ajahn Suthep in August 2007.
From time to time, when I tell friends that I meditate at home, they ask me how do I do it on my own. So, I thought that I should write a blog post about it.
Meditation at Home: What to Keep in Mind
- It is not about how long you can meditate, or if you can meditate for hours. It is whether you can relax, clear your mind (not chasing your thoughts round and round in your head), and remain in the here and now. If you can do this, even a 10-15 min meditation session once or twice a day is good enough.
- Have a quiet space where you can meditate every day. If possible, do not meditate on your bed. Find a serene spot somewhere else to designate as your meditation space. Make sure the space is bright (e.g. where sunlight can shine on it through a window) and air can flow freely.
- You do not need to sit cross-legged on the floor to meditate. Sitting on a chair with both feet planted firmly on the ground is also fine. Meditating while standing is also fine, but if you have issues with balance or dizziness, then it is better to sit down.
Simple Steps to Meditate at Home
- Wear comfortable clothing, i.e. loose or stretchable clothing.
- Make sure there are no distractions during the time you are going to meditate, i.e. no children running around, and no family members requiring your attention.
- Put on some relaxing music that you like, but not too relaxing until you can fall asleep. For example, I like to listen to the sounds of nature, such as bird song and the sounds of flowing water.
- Sit down comfortably. You can sit down on a firm cushion, cross-legged on the floor, or a comfortable chair. Make sure your back is straight and not leaning against a wall (when you are too comfortable leaning against a wall, you might doze off).
- Start a breathing exercise. Inhale slowly and deeply, counting from 1 to 4. Imagine you are breathing into your tummy first, bringing all the air deep inside, then when your tummy is full, then only you fill the air upwards, into your lungs. Focus on this breathing style – do it properly.
- Then, exhale slowly, counting from 1 to 4. Let out the air slowly, and at the end, squeeze your tummy slightly with your abdominal muscles to make sure all the air comes out.
- Repeat the inhale and exhale, counting from 1 to 4 each, until you feel relaxed and comfortable.
- Then, you start to extend the count. Inhale 1-4. Then exhale 1-6. When you are comfortable with this, extend it some more.
- Inhale 1-4, then exhale 1-8. This will help you slow down your heart beat and relax further.
- Next, you try to add on. Inhale 1-4, hold your breath 1-4, then exhale 1-8. Always focus on your breathing and counting. This will prevent you from getting distracted by assorted thoughts.
- If you are comfortable with this inhale 1-4, hold 1-4, then exhale 1-8, then you can extend it further. If you feel this is the maximum length of breath you can take, then just remain at this count.
- Usually, I extend it to inhale 1-10, hold 1-4, and exhale 1-20.
- You can do this as long as you like. It can be 10 mins, 15 mins, or longer.
- When you want to come out of your meditation, just breathe normally again.
- Move your fingers and toes. Then, move your arms and stretch out your legs.
- Open your eyes. Make sure you are fully awake and alert before standing up. If not, you might lose your balance and fall down. Never stand up immediately after ending your meditation.
Some people like to light a small candle or tea light and place it in front of them to focus on. Although I do not do that, you can try it, if you fancy it.
If you find yourself running away with your thoughts at any time, bring your attention and focus back to the counting and the breathing.
When is the Best Time to Meditate?
You can meditate at any time of the day. However, if you can choose when to meditate, morning will be ideal. Meditation will be beneficial to help you relax and calm down especially when you feel tired, stressed, frustrated or angry.
As a suggestion, it would be good if you can meditate for 10 mins in the morning before you leave the house, and 10 mins in the evening to relax yourself after returning home or before going to sleep.
Where Can You Meditate?
You can meditate anywhere. However, never meditate while you are driving, because it is dangerous. Also, please avoid from meditating in the toilet, because that is where you release waste.
If you are a passenger in a car, you can meditate. If you are commuting somewhere, sitting down in a bus, train or LRT, you can also meditate. If you are waiting for someone to arrive for an appointment, you can also meditate. You can even meditate sitting on your office chair during lunch break.
What Kind of Music is Suitable for Meditation?
I like soothing music and the sounds of nature, such as bird song and the sound of flowing music. Here are some examples from YouTube:
Nonetheless, if you like to listen to some other type of music while you meditate, feel free to try it. As long as the music is not too loud or distracting, you can use it. You can also listen to prayers or chanting while you meditate. I like Om Mani Padme Hum by Imee Ooi.
What are the Benefits of Regular Meditation?
Regular meditation will help you to de-stress and relax. It will help you to remain calm, even during stressful busy periods at work. You will not get angry and frustrated as easily as before. Lastly, you will enjoy a calmer existence and feel more peaceful.
I hope you find these meditation tips and steps useful. Happy meditating!