Meditation can be as simple as sitting cross-legged on a cushion or flexing into a full lotus pose (where legs are crossed, but both sets of toes are resting on the thighs). You can sit on the floor, a bed, or in a chair.
For years, I sat on a bed, put my hands on my lap, crossed my legs and began to meditate.
With the help of a few simple tools, however, meditation can be a more powerful experience.
For years I never got a Zafu cusion. But what’s nice about the Zafu is that you can sit cross-legged for extended periods of time because you sit in a way that helps prevent your legs from falling asleep during meditation.
It also helps with posture.
It’s also not so comfortable that you’ll likely fall asleep as you meditate, but definitely much more comfortable than sitting on the floor.
If you don’t like to cross your legs, you can sit in a kneeling position with the Zafu cushion underneath.
Of course, if you’re someone who has trouble sitting in “low” places, then sitting upright in a chair with feet flat on the floor is a good option.
I never used ear plugs in all the years I meditated until I went on a meditation retreat last year and our teacher handed them out.
She said that they help with letting you focus on the breath and shut out all other noise to allow for maximum concentration.
At first they felt weird, but then I discovered I really liked the silence they provided.
There are times when I don’t use them, but, generally, I use them for each meditation session.
You can hear your breath quite clearly with ear plugs and you can also hear your heartbeat. But, hearing these two sounds allows you to focus more closely on the breath and turn your attention away from your heartbeat.
This is optional, and, again, I never used one of these before going to my meditation retreat last year.
The darkness of the eye mask means that you’re not distracted by light sources and that if you actually “see” anything while meditating, you know it’s a manifestation of the mind and not from an external source.
Be sure to select one that’s not so tight around the head that it gives you a headache, though.
The Meditation Timer App
This is a free app for your phone that works like a regular timer, but instead of an annoying alarm bell, you can choose the sound of singing bowls, Japanese bells, and several other soothing sounds.
You can also set an interval timer if you want to take a break during meditation and then have it continue.
There’s an end alert, a preparation time and a rest time, for when you end your meditation but don’t have to rush off – you can give yourself a minute or two to ease back into your day.
The app provides beautiful backgrounds and a space to take notes (though, be careful – it will erase them when you exit the app).
The Chill App
This is a great mindfulness app that sends you gentle reminders during the day (you can set it from 1-5 times per day) that remind you to breathe, be grateful, and to think about things you might not give a second thought to, such as how remarkable your eyes are.
The app also sends you a daily meditation quote to keep you inspired.
It includes chimes when it sends updates that are all gentle sounds. I personally have it set to “bird call,” in which it sounds like a Mourning Dove calling.
I love this because when I’m out on a walk, or sitting near a window and hear this dove, I now immediately stop what I’m doing and take five breaths. These sounds help to keep me mindful all day.
Optional, but if you like to do mantras during meditation, these are a great tool.
Again, this was something that I personally didn’t have until more recently, but if you want to recite a mantra 108 times, beads are a great way to do that.
108 is a sacred number in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions.
In the past, I haven’t counted mantras, but it sure helps to not have to try to count mentally or on fingers.
So, that’s it! Those are the simple tools I use to enhance my meditation practice. If you use different ones or have other suggestions, please let me know!