You’ve probably heard that in order to arrive at a state of inner peace and deep relaxation, first, you have to connect fully to the present moment, the ‘here and now’. That’s why I like to call meditation the Practice of Presence. There are various techniques to connect to the present moment and to exercise your ‘silent muscles’. If you’ve experienced meditation with me, you will know that I don’t follow any specific concept or religion… Yet the basic steps to meditation are similar to most of the approaches I’ve explored. Let me introduce these steps to you with a little guidance. I trust this will support you in your practice!
Loving Kindness towards yourself:
So often we are tied to complaints from our inner critic, who push us to do more, to be better or more efficient… Nothing wrong with self-development and growth, but we have to remember that in order to evolve, we need the fuel, the positive energy, which arises from self-love and appreciation. Adopt an attitude of gentle loving-kindness towards yourself. Breath it into your heart and let it be the main signpost in all stages of your meditation (actually, in your daily life too!).
‘I am aware that every moment of my life, I am doing the very best I can. I am enough – exactly as I am.’
Acceptance in meditation means to be connected to whatsoever is going on in this moment – within as well as around you. Your thoughts, feelings, the situation, even the possible restlessness or rushing thoughts often arise at the start of your meditation practice.
I am not implying that you should become a doormat for people, events, or circumstances in your daily life. Having healthy boundaries is essential for our life in this world.
For your meditation, however, I simply invite you to accept ‘what is’ authentic in you and to embrace it completely. The following steps will help you to expand this state.
‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.’
Your mind, body, emotions, and spirit are interconnected. When you get tense or stressed, it makes it hard to think clearly and it is difficult to connect to a meditative space. When you start relaxing your body, the mind and emotions will naturally follow. You can become more grounded by focusing on the rhythm of your breathing so it becomes regular. Additionally, you can do a body scan and gently invite each part of your body to relax and soften. You may notice that as your body relaxes, your mind becomes less frantic, less harsh, softer. Thoughts may still be there but now you may notice there is a certain distance created.
“As the body relaxes, the mind clears, the heart opens and there is a merging of body and soul, like a wave collapsing into the ocean.”
In the context of meditation practice, I perceive non-judgment as ‘letting go of any labeling or signposting’. Again, it touches all parts of our Being. ‘I should not think when I meditate’… ‘I should not feel restless.’ … or dividing emotions as ‘good or bad’… these are just some examples of judging which you may encounter within your practice. In meditation, you can let all these labels go. What matters is to observe what is going on within and around you in its full authenticity – without actively engaging, resisting, or fiddling with it.
“With non-judgment, there is no division. When each part of you is lovingly embraced, integrity, wholeness, and transformation arise.”
This quality is sometimes referred to as the ‘observer’ or ‘watcher’. It is the part of you that is simply AWARE. Metaphorically, you can imagine this space like the center of a hurricane – the calm, still, silent part of you which is calmly observing the context of your experience, here and now – your emotions, thoughts, body sensations, or the situation around you. By resting in your observer, you are connecting to your very core – the nourishing source of your inner peace, harmony, and creativity. The unique beauty of your Essence.
‘Above the clouds of the mind, there is a clear blue sky. I will meet you there.’
Self Love, Acceptance, Relaxation, Non-Judgment, and Awareness. These are proven practical steps to help you to sink into the nourishing space within you. They are interconnected, so even if here they are described as ‘steps’, it does not necessarily mean you have to practice them in this order. One element flows into the other, like the waves of the ocean that merge into and complement one another. Their common purpose is to bring you to your ‘inner home’. A warm space filled with a deep peace and satisfaction that comes from simply being present.
From here, you can respond to life in a relaxed, healthy, and resourceful way.
Peter Harper is an experienced spiritual guide with more than 30 years of experience in meditation guidance and self-discovery retreats. Peter is the founder of The Drunken Monk Conscious Living project connecting spirituality with daily life.