Over the last year, meditating has become an important — and powerful — part of my life. I won’t try to convince you to start meditation (but this and this and this should convince you!), but thought I’d share my favorite meditation with those of you who are interested. I was introduced to this specific meditation while I was in Bali with one of my teachers, Andrea Boni. If you ever have the chance to study with him: DO IT. He’s a powerful meditator and really inspiring man.
I use this specific meditation whenever I’m somewhere with noise. It’s easy to use the excuse “oh it’s too noisy here to meditate” — but you can use that noise to your advantage. Here’s what I do:
- Find a comfortable seat, with your spine straight and vertical. If that means leaning against a backrest, that’s fine!
- Begin to relax your eyes, relax your face, calm your breath, and finally close your eyes when it feels natural.
- LISTEN. First, let yourself listen to any noise you hear — traffic, birds, wind in the trees, wind across your ears, a jackhammer in the distance. Try to listen to ONE sound at a time, and as your attention is pulled by another noise: go with it. Go from sound to sound to sound and try to hear as many as you can.
- Next, pick one sound. Pick the one that you like the best, and focus completely on that sound. Let the others go into the background, and keep your attention solely on your chosen sound.
- Finally, see if you can step away from that one particular sound and hear ALL of the sounds as ONE. They no longer have individual identities — you don’t need to name them, categorize them, imagine them, etc. individually — but rather are part of one massive whole that you’re observing. This might be hard to do, which is okay: you can go back to focusing on one sound, and then try stepping away again.
- When you’re ready to end your meditation, acknowledge that you’re coming out of meditation. I actually say, in my head, “I’m coming out of meditation now.” Then bring your awareness back to your body — you might rub your hands together to create heat, then place them over your eyes to make opening your eyes a more gentle experience.
This meditation can take five minutes, or thirty minutes, or however long you want! Don’t stress about when to switch from one phase to the next — just let yourself have enough time in each that you feel ready to move on. I set a timer for 15-20 minutes so I don’t worry about getting lost in meditation all day. More than anything: make sure your body is comfortable, so it isn’t distracting you. This might mean building a big pillow throne to sit on!
Let me know if you try this meditation! I’ve been using it a lot while traveling, because I can do it anywhere! If you’re interested in learning more about meditation, my favorite “intro” book is Meditation for the Love of It by Sally Kempton. She breaks it down so it’s really accessible, and not so intimidating!2