You may have heard that to master your life, you must first master your inner state.
Life happens from the inside out. Where you are coming from on the inside–your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and physical state–is the strongest determining factor in what happens around you and in how you experience and interpret whatever happens.
Because of that, many people have turned to meditation as a way to shift into a more relaxed, positive, clear, and focused inner state. Let’s explore four simple steps that can help you discover the peace within.
Meditation is a way to practice using these four steps. As you master these steps in your meditation practice, you can also use them at any moment in your life to bring you out of stress mode in relaxed clarity.
No matter which style of meditation you practice, you can use these four cues to meditate more easily and effectively.
1. Relax and Align Your Posture
Meditation begins with active relaxation. Active relaxation means that you put your attention inside your body and use your mind to release muscular tension. Maintaining a relaxed upright posture is an important key to actively releasing tension.
When you sit to meditate, notice and adjust your posture from your feet upward. Sit on the front edge of a chair, couch, or bed with your feet flat on the floor and parallel to each other. An ideal seat height is one in which your hips are level with or slightly above your knees.
Rest your hands palms down on your thighs. Drop your shoulders and soften your hands to release any tension in your arms. Imagine a string attached to the top of your head gently drawing your spine upright. Tuck your chin slightly lengthening the back of your neck. Close your lips lightly and place the tip of your tongue up to the roof of your mouth to relax your jaw.
Sitting upright like this is not mandatory, but it can be helpful. If you are unable to sit without back support, you can sit with your back against the back of a chair or in any comfortable position, even lying down. The bottom line is to actively relax yourself by becoming aware of your posture and making adjustments to release tension.
2. Feel your Inner Body
Adjusting your posture puts you in touch with what is happening in your body. The next step is to feel inside your skin, to feel your inner space. Notice what is happening inside your body without reacting to it–just become aware of it.
Observe your thoughts, feelings, and, most importantly, the sensations in your body. Witness these without reacting to them, criticizing them, or trying to change them. Just make note of what is going on. Scan your body to find any areas of tension or pain and settle your attention there–again just observing and relaxing.
Inner body sensing is the gateway to self-knowledge, self-mastery, and discerning inner guidance.
3. Breathe Consciously
One of the best ways to begin to feel inside your body is to become aware of your breathing. Imagine and feel as if your inhalation begins in your lower abdomen and expands upward into your upper abdomen and chest all the way up to your collarbones.
As you exhale, imagine and feel that whole space emptying from top to bottom. Allow your breathing to slow down and settle into a deep rhythm. Slow, deep, rhythmic breathing will balance your emotions and regulate your heart-rate and brainwaves so that your body comes into calm coherence.
If you notice any areas of tension in your body, you can imagine breathing into those areas to release pain or tightness. As you inhale, imagine gently filling the area of pain or tension with your breath. Imagine your breath easily expanding into that space. As you exhale, imagine that same space emptying out.
4. Smile Inside
To assist you in releasing inner tension and shifting into a positive state, practice inner smiling. Put a subtle smile on your lips. Feel appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity to relax and feel positive in this moment. Smile with nurturing acceptance of whatever is happening inside. Imagine that every cell is smiling.
Inner smiling instantly shifts your body and brain chemistry and makes you feel positive and function optimally. This creates a positive cellular environment and grooves positive neural pathways in your body and brain. Inner smiling embodies an accepting, non-judgmental attitude toward yourself and others. It opens your heart and enables you to embrace what is good in your life.
For ease of memory, let’s shorten these four steps to: Relax, Feel, Breathe, and Smile.
Here’s a free download that guides you through a short variation of this. I call it “The Core Energy Technique” and you can get it here.
The next level is to connect the feeling of “Relax, Feel, Breathe, and Smile” through your 3 major energy centers. This gives you a feeling of integration you can feel more powerfully through Mind, Heart, Body and your Spiritual Connection. Get my free Core Energy Download and learn more about the complete Core Energy Meditation program here.
So, how did you find “Relax, Feel, Breathe, and Smile”?
Practice this a little every day and watch your inner state shift and your life come into balance. No matter what you want to do, you’ll do it better with a relaxed body, an open heart, and a clear and focused mind. This sets the stage for a healthier, happier, more abundant, loving, and purposeful life–a life that flows effortlessly from inner guidance.
Enjoy your practice!
– Kevin Schoeninger
The Mind-Body Training Company
P.S. If you enjoyed this, you’ll love Core Energy Meditation. Take the 3-minute meditation quiz and learn more here