Q. I have just started exploring meditation. I want to find my inner voice and intuition. How you know if you are meditating correctly?

A.

That’s a good question and one most people ask when they start meditating. However, it is also one of the primary reasons that undermine their practice—fear of not doing it right. There are many forms of meditation with their own specific guidelines on how to do it: sit cross legged; breath in/out through nose, mouth, left nostril, right nostril; hold hands and body in specific poses; mantra, no mantra, etc. If at some point you decide to choose a specific practice, finding one that speaks to you will deepen your dedication and increase the benefits.

All of meditation, in fact all of life, depends on breath, specifically the 20% of each breath that is oxygen. Grounding yourself in a simple diaphragmatic breath exercise will give you a solid foundation for whatever meditation practice you chose. Next find a comfortable place to do your daily practice. Find a comfortable position sitting on a chair with your back straight and your feet centered on the floor, or cross legged on the ground, arms at your sides or on the armrest, or cup your hands in front of you in your lap (referred to as the lotus position).

Once you are centered you simply start to breathe. In mindfulness meditation you use your breath as a point of focus and when your mind wonders you simply look at that, whether it was a feeling in the body or a thought in the mind, and non-judgmentally, bring yourself back to the breath. Breath is also the core foundation of mantra meditations however instead of observing the breath you focus on a mantra. While there are specific mantras for different meditation practices a one syllable affirming word like Love, Peace, Hope, Joy can also be used to quiet the mind and relax the body.

Finally, different practices set specific guidelines of how long and how often you should practice. Most meditation teachers and practices are legitimate. Holding yourself to the guidelines of a specific practice will deepen the benefits of meditation but (this is the answer to concerns about doing it right), research shows that even 10 minutes of meditation can reap benefits. Give thanks for each period of respite before letting the voice of doubt creep in. Right, first and foremost, is what works for you.

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