Landscape of blue sky over desert

I would like to say that I am an everyday meditator. That over the years I’ve been able to sit for longer and longer periods of time. And that, because of my meditating acumen, I am a better, nicer and more together person.

But no. I’m still totally human, with many frailties.

However, there is no doubt in my mind that there are rich rewards in meditation. I have experienced many of them. 

For me, one of the greatest meditation benefits is the head space that sitting in meditation can provide. Space for letting whatever needs to arise come up. Space to notice those things that usually occur below the level everyday consciousness, for example, breathing. Space to just be and get acquainted with this little known aspect of ourselves–Being.

I’m disciplined when it comes to consistent asana practice. It’s because I like being in my body–moving, balancing, noticing, experimenting, learning. It’s an ingrained habit of 46 years. As a meditator, though, I still consider myself a newbie of just several years. So what works for me is being guided by the recordings of skilled meditation teachers. One of my favourites is the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Recently a girlfriend recommended the app called Headspace. The first 10 meditation lessons are each 10 minutes long. Pleasant-voiced Andy presents the meditations in a methodical format. Best of all this beginners’ course is free.  

Headspace describes its app thus: More than just a blog, it’s a daily dose of mindfulness. The ideal accompaniment to your cornflakes or commute. Folksy and friendly.

Daniel and I completed the 10 free lessons yesterday. Here’s the course format we followed. If you are a DIY kind of person you might want to follow it, too.

  • Set your timer for 10 minutes. This is a good amount of time for beginners and busy people.
  • Take a minute or so–eyes open–to adjust to your seated position and to the environment. Take 3-5 relaxing breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth.
  • Gently close your eyes and feel the weight of your body where you are sitting, your buttocks on the chair or the floor, your hands/forearms on your legs.
  • Listen for the sounds in your environment. The ones that are near to you, the ones at a distance.
  • Now do a body scan starting at the crown of your head, moving down from the top down through your chest, arms, hips, legs. Notice the small areas of your body, the corners of your nose, behind your ear lobes, the spaces between your fingers and toes.
  • Notice the mood of your mind and the thoughts that occupy you.
  • Take time now to observe your breath again. Start to count your normal breaths up to five. When you reach five, then start again, and do several sets like this. If your mind wanders, just start over.
  • Finally, set your mind free for a minute or so. Let go of any particular focus and allow it to be like the open sky.
  • Begin to bring yourself back into the space. Aware of the weight of your body, your breath, sounds around you.
  • Gradually let your eyes open again and take a minute or two to notice how you feel physically, mentally, emotionally, in your spirit.

For further inspiration, you might enjoy a previous post on this subject, Meditation and the Beauty of Open Sky.