Do I meditate? I’m not sure.
Here’s what I know: Sit yourself down in a comfortable position. I like to sit on a straight backed chair with my bare feet flat on the floor. No crossed legs or fancy positions.
I place my hands on my legs, palms up. The palms up thing is from yoga: let the universe know you’re ready to receive. I take five or six diaphragmatic breaths. That means when I inhale, my belly expands. I imagine a waterwheel in my body. Inhale, the breath travels up to my head; exhale, the breath spills down.
I try to stay rhythmic and not to work too hard.
Next, I imagine a bright light shining out from my eyes, my ears, my nose, my mouth. It’s important to relax your mouth. I send the light down my neck, both shoulders and arms and all fingers. I send the light down my spine to my legs, including my toes. The light ends in my chest cavity where I try to imagine a colorless, empty space.
This last bit of imagination is impossible and I am okay with that. Finally, I focus on my “third eye” (the light between my eyes that I am able to see with my eyes closed). I repeat a mantra. Something simple like “at ease” or “peace” or the ambitious “Who am I?”
As a thought passes into my mind, I encourage myself to draw it down to my heart. It helps to imagine a magnetic force from my heart that draws the thought downward. When the next thought pops in, I encourage myself again. It is helpful to treat yourself like you would a small child. Say: “It’s okay, you’ll get it next time,” or “Try again.”
The whole process takes me twenty minutes. I use the first five minutes to breathe and relax my body, then I spend fifteen minutes encouraging myself to meditate. I say I encourage myself to meditate because even though I have been steadily sitting down in this practice for at least three or four times a week for the past five months, I still think that one day I’ll figure out how to do this thing right.
That belief is not rational. No matter. I still wonder: Do I meditate? I’m not sure.
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Lori Wald Compton started a daily meditation practice in February of 2012. She blogs about her journey at slowbreathsoftheart.com.
Editor: Carolyn Gilligan