Before you read this I would just like to let you know that I am no expert on meditation. In fact, I might even know less than you on this topic. However, even though I have limited knowledge on meditation, I still believe it can help us on our journey toward minimalism. Meditation is something everyone has heard of and many of us (like me) have tried it. When I was younger, my Taekwon-Do instructors would sometimes make us meditate at the end of class and I’m sure anyone who has done Yoga is also familiar with the concept of meditation.
When we think of meditation, the stereotypical image of a Tibetan monk sitting cross-legged while chanting a deep “humming” hymn automatically pops into our minds (or maybe it’s just me). That this is not the only way to meditate and there are many other forms of meditation which I will not discuss in this post because, as I said, I am not very knowledgeable on the subject.
Instead, I will talk to you about the one of the only form of meditation that I practice which is mainly just focused on breathing. Again, you don’t have to be sitting cross-legged to become aware of you breathing. You can do this while waiting in line for something, while lying down or sitting at you desk. You don’t need any material either. All you need is a few minutes, a quiet place, some air and your mind. Music is optional. Breathing exercises are so simple yet they have many benefits. If you don’t know how to start here is an easy 4 step process you can follow:
- Find a comfortable position for your body. It is important that you do not feel any pain during this exercise so you are at ease and your mind is not distracted.
- Gain awareness on how you are feeling at the moment and become conscious of your breathing. This is the most important part. Take some time to recognize if you are feeling sore anywhere and try relax the tense muscles that might be causing the soreness. Then start to become aware of your breathing. Recognize when you are inhaling and exhaling. Is your breathing shallow? Are you feeling stressed at the moment? By asking yourself these types of questions you will perform a full body scan on yourself so you can become aware of your mental and physical state.
- Close your eyes and clear your mind. This is the hardest step because all of our minds tend to wander on their own. It is totally normal that as you will try to clear your mind, some thoughts will find themselves back into your consciousness. They sometimes arrive in groups of thoughts. All you need to do is acknowledge them, and bid them goodbye. These thoughts will always be there. The hardest part is not reacting to them as you politely oust them out of your head.
- Inhale for 6 seconds, hold for 1 second, exhale for 5 seconds. This is just a suggested time. Often you will notice your breathing becomes slower and slower the longer you meditate. Repeat this pattern for the desired amount of time. Try to do this breathing exercise for 2 minutes at first. Then if you wish, you can raise the amount of time in small increments. Ideally, you should be able to get to 5 minutes quite quickly if you do this daily.
Remember, try to focus on your breathing. If you lose you focus, just close your eyes and start over. Meditation can be hard for some people because they just aren’t used to sitting still. If you find meditation hard, just stick with it and be patient with yourself.
OK, so now you have an idea on how to meditate by focusing on your breathing, but what is the link with minimalism?
Like art, meditation will help gain a new perspective on life. You will feel a sort of inner peace and find tranquility while you meditate. You will look at your troubles and worries in a new manner. Most importantly, you will realize that the essence of life is life itself. By enjoying the beauty of your breathing and your stillness, you’ll quickly discover that it’s moments of tranquility like these that make you whole as person and not the things you buy. So try meditating for a few minutes. What do you have to lose?