As we move deeper into meditation, the state of our mind expands thus allowing us to create more space within our body.
Our minds and bodies are interconnected, and the condition of one affects the condition of the other. When our minds are cluttered with thoughts, information, and plans, our bodies respond by trying to take action. When the body has a clear directive from the mind, it knows what to do, but a cluttered, unfocused mind creates a confused, tense body. Our muscles tighten up, our breath shortens, and we find ourselves feeling constricted without necessarily knowing why.
This is why meditation is such a powerful tool for healing the body.
When we sit down to meditate, we let our bodies know that it is okay to be still and rest. This is a clear directive from the mind, and the body knows exactly how to respond. Thus, at the very beginning, we have created a sense of clarity for the body and the mind. As we move deeper into meditation, we have the opportunity to consciously decide to settle in. A meditation teacher pointed said:
If you put a cow in a small pen, she acts up and pushes against the boundaries, whereas if you provide her with a large, open space, she will peacefully graze in one spot.
In the same way, our thoughts settle down wen we provide them with enough space, and our bodies follow suit. Like a large open field, our consciousness is a vast, open space in which our thoughts can come and go without disturbing us, as long as we let them by neither attaching to them nor repressing them. As we see our thoughts come and go, we begin to breathe deeper and more easily; We find that our body is more open to the breath as it relaxes along with the mind. In this way, the space we recognize through meditation creates space in our bodies, allowing for an expansive mind-state where anything is possible.
The basic idea of meditation is simple. Every time your mind begins to shift its spotlight away from your breath and you get lost in thought, you simply bring your attention back to your breath.
The premise is that the attention we give the different things around us is a spotlight, and all day we move it around and point it at different things, usually without thinking too much about the fact that we’re doing this. As we move it around, we point it at everything we give attention to, from our smartphone, to a conversation we’re having, to an email we’re writing. And a lot of the time, we direct it at more than one thing at a time. Actually, most of the time we do!
Meditation takes that “spotlight” that is our attention and it points it directly at our breath.
Get comfortable. It's ideal to sit in upright posture (lest you fall asleep, which sometimes is exactly what we need!). Dim the lights a bit, or shut them off completely to help you focus better.
Bring your attention/focus to your breath. This is what meditation is all about, and this is what makes meditation both difficult and worthwhile. In this third step, close your mouth and focus entirely on your breath as it enters and leaves your nose. You can focus on any element of your breath that you want – from how the air feels as it enters and exists your nose, to how the air feels as you inflate and deflate your lungs, to the sensation under your nose as you breathe in and out, to the sound you make as you breathe. Don’t force your breathing here – just breathe naturally and observe your breath without thinking about it too much.
Bring your attention back to your mind when it wanders. When your mind wanders, and it will, gently bring your attention back to your breath once you realize that your mind has wandered off. You may not clue in at first that your mind has started thinking again, but when you do, gently bring your attention back.
Again, bring your mind back when it wanders. Again, when your mind begins to think, gently bring your attention back to your breath. When your mind begins to think about how boring meditation is, gently bring your attention back to your breath. When your mind becomes restless, bring in your attention again. You get the picture! Keep doing this until your meditation has ended.