Before learning about how to meditate it helps to understand the benefits of meditation. Meditation can give you clarity, focus, a sense of purpose and inner peace. With daily practice, meditation can have a profound effect and impact on your life. Over time, you can take that sense of peace and calm that you feel during meditation and have it carry over into your everyday life. Keeping you more grounded and centered throughout the day.
Learning to meditate is not as difficult as most people think but it does require having a little patience with yourself – particularly in the beginning. The most difficult aspect of meditation is simply having the discipline to sit down and do it, even if only for 5-10 minutes, everyday.
Getting Started with Meditation:
Choosing Your Spot – Wearing comfortable clothes find yourself a spot that you designate as your special meditation spot. It helps to return to the same place each day if possible so that, over time, you will find yourself automatically relaxing when you sit down at your spot. For those new to meditation, be sure to choose a place that is quiet, free of distractions and just feels good to you.
Finding the Right Meditation Posture– There are a number of meditation positions to choose from based on your personal preference. You may need to try a few out before finding the one that suits you.
Standing Meditation– This is doable but not very relaxed. Occasionally people with back issues will choose to stand though that generally limits the meditation to shorter periods of time.
Lying Down Meditation – While it is easy to relax lying down, it is too easy to fall asleep for most people.
Sitting Meditation Postures – Taking a sitting position is generally recommended because the various sitting postures can be very comfortable, keep you upright and not prone to falling asleep.
Use of a proper cushion for your body is essential for comfort and to allow circulation into the legs. A kneeling posture or some form of crossed-leg posture will work well with the right size cushion for your body.
Probably the most comfortable position for most Americans to meditate is in a chair or bench that allows you to sit with your legs at approximately a 90-degree angle.
With the chair or bench, sit toward the front third, away from leaning back. Place both feet flat on the floor, directly below your knees, and comfortably apart – about shoulder width. The back is straight with the head gently lifted and the nose directly over the navel. The spine is straight, but not stiff, and the hands rest comfortably with the palms down on the knees. Once in the proper position it is important to try to keep still during your meditation. In this way we help still our minds by stilling our bodies.
Let the Meditation Begin! – You are in your spot and in a comfortable meditation position. Now what? Close your eyes and focus on the point between the eyebrows. This will help you stay alert and less drowsy (the “bright mind” affect). Then choose a focal point such as the breath, a feeling, a sound, or repeat a short mantra. Whatever you do, choose one focal point and stick with it. If you choose the breath as your focal point, you may count your breaths to help you to maintain focus, or simply pay attention to the breath. Breathe naturally noticing your inhale and exhale. Each time the mind wanders, return to your focal point.
Dealing with Thoughts during Meditation – More than likely you will have numerous thoughts creeping into your mind as you meditate and you might begin to think, “This isn’t working. I can’t do this!” But don’t worry, this is normal and you just need to come back to your focal point. If your focal point is the breath, each time you become aware of your thoughts, just return your attention to your breathing. No judgement and no attaching to any thought. Just let them go by. Don’t get upset or frustrated by your inability to stay with it. Just return to the breath each time you realize you are not on it.
Making Progress – Even if you are on the breath for one second out of every ten, you are doing fine. The very process of realizing you lost focus and your ongoing attempts to return to the breath is the point! And if you stay with it, maybe in a week you’ll be on the breath for two seconds out of ten, then three, and so on. But some days you’ll do better than others – this is normal.
Learning how to meditate is a gradual process. Be patient and enjoy it!