As commuters, most mornings we are glued to our phones: checking social media, listening to a podcast or music, reading the news or browsing emails. So when the mindfulness apps started flooding in a few years ago, saving us from the morning injection of instant stress, many of us saw that as positive news. In a lot of ways the apps help us to have a moment to our self and disconnect from the surrounding, but then on the other hand I think the guidance was missing.
Mediation requires a bit of practice and if you’re a beginner, meditating during your busy commute might not be the best place to start. Sure it’s better than not doing it at all, but if you’ve tried that and felt that it’s quite hard, I’d suggest you try it in a more controlled environment.
Your home is the perfect place to start.
The benefits of meditation
Over the last decade there has been a lot of research about the benefits of mediation, covering all aspects of health, wellbeing and happiness.
Accordingly to Emma M. Seppälä who did her PhD research studying the impact of meditation at Stanford university, there are a number of scientific reasons why we should pay attention to how meditation boost our health and happiness. It improves sleep, helps us deal with stress and create healthy habits, enriches our social life and makes us more productive when working from home.
I see a link to how our home can be the centre stage for improving wellbeing. Different design elements help us to create a relaxing and comforting home and by focusing on the content rather than style we get better at knowing what we need. Through connecting with our most primal instincts, the senses, we can then step into a different level of appreciation for our homes. Home and meditation are connected, it’s very much about opening up to the full experience. I believe that through noticing the feeling of home, we become more mindful and that we can transfer this into other aspects of life. You can see it as a playground for sharpening those qualities, same as meditation.
“Oh, for a life of senses rather than thoughts”
- John Keats
Interested in trying it out?
Here are my 5 recommendations for starting, or getting back into, meditation at home.
Why I meditate
I started meditating just a year and a half ago after starting with yoga and it was love from day one. For me meditation is more than clearing out my thoughts and recharging my energy, even if these benefits are enough in themselves. I use mediation to connect spiritually, be more aware of the feelings I have (even the sub-conscious ones) and get closer to what really matters to me. Sometimes I have experienced a great moment where you kind of float into an in-between space that has no mind or body. This has only happened to me in guided meditation but most times there are just a lot of thoughts running in my head.
I’ve learned that it’s usually not so much about what goes on during the meditation but how I feel after and the quality of my day.
How to prepare for meditation at home
1. Find a space
I think it’s important to find consistency in where I practice so I don’t have to take long to get into it each time. Pick a spot where you feel comfort. I usually sit on our living room floor, facing the fireplace. I can close the door so it feels quite and private.
2. Find the posture
I have a couple of Kelim cushions that are a bit sturdier and I’d usually need two of these to sit on, but you need to find your own way into the postures. Some people prefer to sit on a chair, sit in lotus position or cross-legged. I choose the latter and make sure that the knees are closer to the floor than the hips and I’m not quite sure of the reason for this, but I believe it keeps you in a “comfortable” position for longer.
Kelim cushion covers bought in San Sebastian, Spain.
3. Make it into a ritual
A big part of the practice is to also make it into a ritual. I use a few things to signal that it’s meditation time to myself. On my mantelpiece I have a Buddha status (no need for this but it’s just a symbol I really enjoy having in my home). I also have a candle and a stoneware plate with incense. I’m so nerdy with these so I actually have specific ones for meditation that I got in India and others I use for a room scent. No need to go that far but I find it good to have something to awaken the sensory feelings, especially as you have your eyes closed and become more aware of the ones we use less, such as smell.
4. How to start
For practical reasons I set a timer on my phone, usually not more than 20 minutes but occasionally a bit longer. I begin the mediation with finding the position, setting an intention (if I decide that I want to have one) and then I ring the chimes, take a deep breath and close my eyes.
5. When you can’t get into it at all
There are a few things you could try if you are like me and know that counting the breath isn’t really working for you.
Sometimes it feels like the thoughts are just everywhere and it’s really hard to get into the practice. Remember that this is also practising.
- Try different breathing exercise, like holding one nostril and counting your breath and then releasing the breath through the other nostril. Keep repeating this until you feel the breathing is more connected.
- Play mantras or relaxing music on your phone.
- Just sit and do a body scan, noticing how the different parts of your body are feeling.
- Use a meditation app. My favourite is Buddify, which works really well when you’re out and about as well.
- Go to a guided meditation class. These are usually quite effective, especially if you’re in the beginning and trying to learn how to meditate.
- Do yoga before you start. It helps to relax the body and connect the breath.
These are my tips on how to get started with meditation at home. It’s really not that much needed, only time to find your own routine. Let’s cheer each other on as we get lost on the way.