Seated meditation positions:
Sit on a chair or floor cushion with your spine straight
and your eyes softly gazing at the ground, or fully closed.
Try to keep your body relaxed, but your mind alert.
All of these meditations can either be read by you, or read to you by someone else as you practice. You can also record any of these instructions to create your own guided meditations. Allow a bit of space between each instruction as you read them aloud.
- Body Scan Meditation
- Standing Body Awareness Meditation
- Counting Breath Meditation
- Basic Breath Awareness Meditation
- Walking Meditation
Body Scan Meditation:
The Body Scan Meditation helps you become aware of physical tension so you can begin to release it. If you notice tense areas that wonʼt release, try to meet them with an attitude of acceptance. Practice for as little as 1 or 2 minutes to 20 minutes or longer.
This meditation uses a process of focusing on one muscle group at a time. Take as much time as needed with each group before moving on to the next one.
Pay attention to any tense areas of your body to try to release them. One way to release tension is to imagine your inhale traveling to the area of tension and surrounding it, and then imagine gently releasing the tension with your exhale. Another way to release tension is to imagine any tense areas getting warmer and warmer until they melt away. You also could imagine any tensed muscles just relaxing and releasing.
How to Practice
First, start with your head. Bring your awareness to your forehead and to your eyes, and imagine the area between your eyes getting wider as you gently release any tightened muscles.
Now bring your awareness to your cheeks and jaw. Do you notice any tension? Let your jaw be slack. You may want to part your lips the tiniest bit—so that they are barely touching each other. Try to release any tension here.
Next, bring your awareness to your shoulders and neck. If you can, gently shrug your shoulders up to your ears— and then gently release them, and let them drop. Try to release any tension here.
Bring your awareness to your upper chest and upper back. Notice how this area expands and contracts with each breath. Try to release any tension.
Bring your awareness to your abdomen and mid back, and notice how this area expands and contracts with each breath. Try to release any tension.
Now for the lower portion of your body. Bring your awareness to your low back, hips, and buttocks where you connect with your seat. Try to release any tension.
Bring your awareness to your thighs, knees, calves, and feet. Allow the whole lower portion of your body to be heavy, noticing where you connect with your seat and with the ground. Try to release any tension.
See if you can release any more tension.
Body Relaxed, Mind Alert
Throughout this process, be aware of your body and how it feels. Allow your spine to support you, and allow the seat and ground beneath you to support you. Release any muscles not needed to support you. Keep your body relaxed but your mind alert.
As a result of this exercise, you may notice that your muscles feel relaxed. See if you can develop a “body memory” of how it feels to relax your muscles, so you can call on this memory in the days ahead.
Standing Body Awareness Meditation:
The Standing Body Awareness Meditation can help to develop body awareness. Itʼs definitely a good one to use if youʼre waiting in line! Practice for as little as 1 or 2 minutes to five minutes or more.
First, stand with your feet firmly planted on the ground, hip-distance apart and parallel to each other. Keep your spine, head, and neck aligned. With your eyes softly opened, gently gaze at a point in front of you.
Imagine roots growing into the ground from the soles of your feet. Make sure your head and neck are balanced over your spine. See if you can sense strength in your body. You may want to allow yourself to sway a bit like a tree in the wind, so your body does not feel rigid.
Focus on your breath without changing the pace of it. Notice your breath moving in and out of your body. Any time your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
Counting Breath Meditation:
The Counting Breath Meditation uses a combination of counting and awareness of the breath. Practice for as little as 1 or 2 minutes to 20 minutes or longer.
To start, sit in a comfortable position and gently bring your awareness to your breath.
Silently count “two” on your next inhale, and “two” again on your next exhale. Then “three” on the following inhale, and “three” again on the following exhale. Continue counting with each breath through the number ten, then return to the number one. You could also silently say to yourself, “I am inhaling one, I am exhaling one. I am inhaling two, I am exhaling two,” etc.
Continue with this counting process. Every time you get to ten, return to one. If at any point during this practice you lose count, simply start over again with the number one.
Basic Breath Awareness Meditation:
The Basic Breath Awareness Meditation uses awareness of the breath as your focal point. Practice for as little as 1 or 2 minutes to 20 minutes or longer.
Notice your breath just as it is, and become aware of the pace of your breathing without changing anything. Breathe gently through your nose (if you can), paying attention to your breath either as it enters your nose or flows over your upper lip. Just observe your breathing without trying to change it.
Allow your belly to fill with air and expand with your inhale, and feel it empty and release with your exhale. You can even rest your hand on your belly to feel it rise with your inhale and fall with your exhale.
If you become distracted by anything at all, simply notice the distraction and release it, then gently refocus on your breathing.
See if you can notice the coolness of the air as you breathe in and its warmth as you breathe out.
Notice the length of your inhale and the length of your exhale without changing anything. Just notice.
See if you can notice the pause between each inhale and exhale and between each exhale and inhale.
Try to keep your full attention on just your next breath. And then the next one. And the one after that . . .
Any time you become distracted by a thought, a feeling, a sound, etc., simply bring your awareness back to your breath. Gently. Without judgment, without internal comment.
Notice your lungs filling and emptying with each inhale and exhale. You can even silently say to yourself filling, emptying to help support your experience.
See if you can notice where each breath begins and where each breath ends.
Distractions are Part of the Practice
The Walking Meditation is a moving meditation that uses your body as your focal point. It can be practiced indoors or outdoors, for just a few steps or for as long as youʼd like.
Rest your attention on the movements of your legs and feet. First, lift your right leg to take a step, and silently say to yourself “lifting.” Move your right leg forward, and silently say to yourself “moving.” Place your right foot down on the ground, and silently say to yourself “placing,” and as you shift the weight onto your right foot, silently say to yourself “shifting.” Begin the process again with the left foot: lifting, moving, placing, shifting. The phrase “Let My Peace Show” may help you remember these instructions. Continue silently repeating these words to yourself with each step. Any time your attention wanders, gently refocus on the words and the movements of your body.
There are certainly many ways to practice walking meditation. Another way to practice is to count your steps as you walk. Of course, you can also listen to a guided meditation on your electronic device during walking meditation. Above all, remember that there is no one “right” or “wrong” way to practice. It’s important to trust your experience.