If your new year’s resolution is to make time for meditation, you might find these techniques help you.
1. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Sit upright in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor and your hands resting in your stomach. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Follow the air entering and leaving your body. Notice how you can breathe deep into your stomach, which makes your stomach rise on the in breath and fall on the out breath. When your attention drifts, gently bring it back to your breathing.
2. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Sit upright as before and close your eyes. Select a word to repeat to yourself (e.g. ‘peace’ or ‘love’ or ‘joy’ or ‘om’). Repeat the word slowly and rhythmically. Slow the pace as you settle more and more into relaxation. When your attention drifts, gently bring it back to your focus word.
3. Choose an image that you would like to concentrate on — for example, a beautiful landscape scene, or a walk along a deserted shoreline. Set a timer for 2 or 3 minutes. Find a picture, perhaps in a holiday brochure or magazine. Sit upright in front of your chosen image and focus on it. When your attention drifts, gently bring it back to the image.
4. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Sit upright and close your eyes. Ask ‘What do I need to know?” Quiet your mind and listen attentively for an answer. Try to keep focused on your thoughts and let them drift. Don’t hold on to the thoughts, just follow them and see where they lead you. If you get too far away from your aim of finding answers to a question, bring your thoughts back to the question.
5. Light a candle. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Sit upright and focus on the candle flame. As thoughts occur to you, gently push them aside and re-focus on the candle flame. Notice everything about the flame, the colours and movement, and try to keep your attention on the flame.
6. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Lie down in a comfortable position. Direct your attention to your left foot. Slowly move your attention to your left ankle for a moment or two. Slowly shift your focus to your left shin, then later your left knee and eventually your left thigh. Repeat with your right leg. Continue the process, moving your attention slowly up through your torso, down each arm, up your neck and through your face and head. Try to remain focused on your body and how well it can relax when you allow it to.