“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu
As a certified Equine Gestalt Coach and a lifelong horse lover, I’ve had innumerable eye-opening encounters with these intuitive and peaceful animals. Horses live in the present moment. They aren’t worried about the fight they had with their spouse yesterday, or what the weather will be tomorrow. Because they live in the moment, their natural state is peace and serenity. Horses are great meditation teachers, and science has shown the benefits of meditation to be expansive and enduring.
Meditation lowers stress, increases mental clarity, and improves sleep. I most cherish how meditation quiets the incessant chatter in our minds so we can listen to our intuition. The horses in my life have taught me to trust and follow my intuition and to live in the moment. When we are NOT present, we miss out on the richness of life expressed in simple things like the smell of our dog’s fur when we hug him, the way the sun feels on our skin, a smile from a loved one, or the flavor of dark chocolate as we savor every bite.
By training our mind to live more in the present moment, we stop seeking peace and serenity, and realize it’s right here, right now.
How to Meditate in 7 Simple Steps
1. Sit upright comfortably.
If you’re like me and have tried to meditate while lying down, you know there is the danger of falling asleep. Instead, sit in a comfortable chair with an upright back, get a meditation cushion, or fold a pillow and sit cross-legged on it, which will help support your back.
2. Breathe Deeply.
Ahhhhhh, the breath, the wonderful breath. The breath is our ANCHOR to the present moment and a tool available to us at all times. Start by taking a deep breath and count to five. Then inhale and allow your lungs to fill up (it feels good to take a deep inhale) and then slowly, for a count of five, exhale through your nose, allowing your shoulders to drop. Repeat for 10 breaths.
3. Gently close your eyes.
If you’re not doing so already, I suggest closing your eyes to help you focus. It’s easy to give your mind an excuse to wander when you are staring at laundry that needs folding, or a desk full of papers that need sorting.
4. Slowly scan your body and notice any sensations.
I love this step because it’s checking in with your body. How many times a day do we ask others, “How are you?” Sometimes quite a few. How many times a day do we ask our body, “How are you?” Probably, almost never. A mental body scan is an opportunity to check in with your body and an effective way to bring you into the present moment. Start by focusing on your feet and slowly moving up to the top of your head, checking in with each part of your body before continuing on. Notice if there is tension anywhere, and if there is, consciously send your breath in the direction of that body part.
5. Be aware of any thoughts you are having.
Do you ever get stuck in overthinking? Here’s a chance to notice your thoughts WITHOUT getting roped in by them. Imagine each thought is like a cloud in the sky and you’re the observer. Notice what thoughts are present, many of them may be self-critical or negative such as “I shouldn’t have gotten angry at my mother” or “I can’t keep putting off my car repairs”. Allow each thought to come up, and pass by, without any judgment or attachment.
“Bringing awareness to our breathing we remind ourselves that we are here now.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
6. When your mind wanders, focus on your breath.
When your mind wanders, which it will, come home to your breath. Your breath is the number one tool to help you stay grounded, connected, and focused in the moment. When you focus on your breathing, your heart rate slows down, your mind begins to quiet, and your body can relax.
7. Gently open your eyes when you are ready.
I suggest practicing meditation for 5-10 minutes in the beginning. The best time of day to do it is in the morning, BEFORE having coffee, if you’re a caffeine consumer. Connecting to your breath will set the tone for your day. It’s a positive and empowering tool to practice beyond the pillow, and throughout the day. Even if you don’t have an opportunity to close your eyes, you can practice conscious breathing during a meeting, in a traffic jam, or in a conversation.
I recommend posting a meditation checklist in your bedroom or by your work area as a reminder of how easy and “doable” mediation is.
For a printable checklist of How to Meditate, CLICK HERE.
And remember to Inhale…1, 2, 3, 4, 5…Exhale…1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
Certified Equine Gestalt Coach and author Devon Combs teaches women how to live with clarity, confidence, and self-love through connecting with horses. Devon leads the award-winning Unbridled Retreats for Women, and was named “Equestrian of the Wellness World” by the esteemed Canyon Ranch in Arizona. Learn more about the transformative work Devon does and upcoming retreats at Unbridled Retreats and on Facebook and Instagram.