Happy New Year and welcome to Day One of Evolution PT and Yoga’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge. Congratulations on taking your first step to starting a daily meditation practice. If you haven’t yet read our introduction to the challenge, check out Christine Holt’s instructions on how to start your meditation practice. Once you have found a quiet space to meditate, take a moment to find a comfortable seat. Setting yourself up with a position that you can hold with relative ease is one of the most challenging things when starting a meditation practice. We have this misconception that you are not truly meditating unless you are sitting in lotus position. The reality is, that it’s not about the pose. It’s hard to focus when your back, hips, neck or feet are in pain. Here are some simple tips to find a neutral effortless position to for meditation:
Elevate the Hips – Sit cross-legged on a yoga block, cushion or a couple of folded blankets. You should be high enough that your hips are above your knees. This allows you to maintain the small curve in the back called the lordosis. Place your hands on the muscles in the low back, rock the pelvis forward and back until you find a place where the muscles are relaxed. If your hips are really tight and your knees are still above your hips (even when sitting on a prop or cushion), try kneeling and sitting on your heels. A blanket under your shins will help to take the pressure off the tops of your feet.
Support Your Back – If your back is screaming despite elevating the hips, consider sitting up against the wall with support for the spine. Sitting in a chair is also a great position for meditation.
Lie down – If you are unable to sit without discomfort, lie down. Place a folded blanket under your head and a rolled up blanket under your knees. Sometimes it’s hard to stay awake for meditation when you are lying down, so avoid doing this in your bed or on a couch or any place where you take a nap and associate with falling asleep.
First Practice: Follow the Breath – Once you have found your seat, set a timer for 5 minutes. Place your hands face down on your thighs if sitting, or your belly if you are lying on your back. Relax your jaw, relax your shoulders and relax your legs. Draw your attention to your breath. Follow the movement of the breath as it enters and leaves the body at the tip of the nose (or the lips if breathing through the mouth is easier). As your mind wanders away from the breath, gently nudge your focus back to movement of the breath in and out of the body. Initially you will find that your attention will very quickly move away to other thoughts or distractions. Notice how you react when you lose your focus. Just acknowledge that you moved away and re-focus back to the breath. That’s it. It’s simple. Once your time is up take a moment to notice the effects on your body and your mind.
Great job, see you tomorrow.
Janet Carscadden DPT, E-RYT

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