1. Prepare your state of mind:
Try to do your practice when you are feeling calm and relaxed. It might not be effective for a beginner to immediately meditate or do breathwork after a busy day at work because it makes it harder to concentrate and experience it fully. You could try a short power nap to recharge if you think that will help.
Intermediate and experienced:
Use your practice to help relieve or enhance certain states of mind. If you are stressed, see how meditation or breathwork relieves it or helps you gain more clarity of mind. If you are feeling happy, experiment with how you can turn up the dial of your happiness to an even higher level!
2. Limit distractions:
Keep potential distractions to a minimum. Common distractions include voices, people and noise. Temperature and smell is also important to get right. Too hot or cold will become a distraction, so will bad smells. So prepare your room or surroundings in advance.
3. Empty stomach:
It is better to do any kind of breathwork and meditation on an empty stomach, ideally first thing in the morning. So if you are doing it during the day, make sure you haven’t eaten any heavy meals for at least 2 hours beforehand.
4. Be comfortable:
Allow yourself to be as relaxed as possible. A relaxed body creates a relaxed mind. If you are sitting or lying make sure you use a quality mattress, yoga mat, pillows, or blankets to stay as comfortable as possible, but without creating so much comfort you fall asleep!
A common question from beginners is how to stay awake during their meditation(!). If this is something you experience, consider the following:
- Make sure you are getting enough good quality sleep.
- Meditate sitting upright
- Hold your hands in prayer position in front of your heart.
- Do some light exercises, walking, or stretches beforehand.
- Experiment with meditating at different times of the day.
- Don’t eat heavy meals too close to your meditation time (see above).
Intermediate and experienced:
If you are experienced you may want to test your ability to remain focused with a bit of discomfort. You can be mindful of the pain or discomfort by drawing your attention to it, then letting go.
Quality is more important than quantity. You do not need to meditate or do any form of breathwork for hours at a time.
6. No force:
Meditation and breathwork should feel effortless. There should be no strain and your muscles should be relaxed, not tense. If you are forceful with your breathing or try too hard to meditate you will create tension in your body which is counterproductive.
7. Correct posture:
It is important when doing any type of breathwork or meditation while sitting to have a straight back without slouching. This allows energy to flow more freely through your body and also for your lymph glands that clear toxins out of your body to work more efficiently.
If you are new to meditation, you may find yourself frustrated with not being able to meditate and not seeing results or feeling any different. This is common when trying to do any type of mindfulness meditation that involves focusing your mind on one single point, or trying to clear thoughts.
In fact, there are many types of active meditation you can try. There is no evidence that mindfulness meditations have more or better effects that other types of meditation. Try different styles out and see which works for you.
The great thing about breathwork meditations is that your mind can focus on your breath, on the action of breathing, and also has a clear effect on your physiology, so you get instant feedback from the effects of it.
9. Consistency and Mindfulness:
Consistency is the key to getting all the benefits of meditation and breathwork, so make it a daily habit for life.
Meditation does not have to end once the session is done. You can be conscious about the way you breathe all day long. What’s more, the more mindful you are about how you breathe throughout the day, the more it becomes an automatic habit.
To add more mindfulness in your day-to-day life, for example, ensure you have zero distractions (like turning off the TV, putting your phone away, and so on) when eating a meal. Eat in peace so that your only focus is your food. You can meditate on every bite you take. Really indulge in the tastes and textures of the food. Savour every single mouthful. Then after you eat, use you can use breathwork techniques to turn on your rest and digest mode. Imagine all the wonderful nutrients entering your bloodstream, flowing to different parts of your body, nourishing and rejuvenating you.