- 1 Introduction
- 2 What is it?
- 3 Preparation
- 4 How to Meditate
- 5 Additional Tools
- 6 Meditation Top 10 Tips
- 7 Conclusion
- 8 Further Reading & Resources
Welcome to the world of meditation and more importantly how to meditate.
Please consult your doctor before attempting anything new this article is for information purposes.
I started meditating when I was in my early teens and though I didn’t really know what I was doing it was still immensely helpful to me and something I grew to look forward to.
Now fast forward to the present and I have done my best to make Meditation a daily habit. Morning and night regardless of what else is going on in my life.
Often I would just want to go to sleep if it was late at night after long day but when I discipline myself and sat meditating, even if only for a short 5 mins I always felt better and glad I took the time .
I hope what follows in this guide to meditation can help you find the same joy and benefit from this practice as I and millions of people world wide have been fortunate enough to experience.
What is it?
It is explained by Wikipedia as:
Meditation is a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.
I agree with this quote but it doesn’t really communicate the experience. Imagine you can dip into absolute stillness and silence. Where there are no thoughts but ‘You’ are still there observing that stillness and silence.
Like you are floating in a void with no thoughts to resist, no emotions causing disturbance just absolute rest. What if you could do this with no drugs, no Gurus and all from the comfort of your living room?
Sound good? Well that is what I would describe as meditation. There are classical descriptions which you can go into later on and deeper aspects to it. But first and foremost you experience the deep silence.
Once you have then the practice changes.
It also does not take decades of practice, you can get there quickly with the right guidance and lots of consistency. Don’t let anyone tell you this silence can’t be done as it absolutely can. It is waiting for you.
We will cover how to meditate and how to experience this silence later on.
How does it help?
We will get to the the official research in a moment but first I want to say that where ever you are on your path. What ever your background or paradigm. Having a clear mind, informed by emotions (not dominated) and the ability to silence the mind is the beginning of an amazing adventure.
Everything is been fitted by a strong stable mind, your inner self is expressed confidently and those around you benefit from you giving your best at all time.
Now don’t worry you don’t have to be a saint or even work too hard at it. naturally once the mind becomes stable life become easier. Instead of fighting with our own emotions and expending all that energy, it now feels us with this energy ensuring we become charismatic and magnetic to those around us.
Energy increases and excitement for life and the journey awakens. Seriously who would not want to give this a go?
Okay maybe I am biased so let look at the official benefits of meditation.
There are many so I will just list 5.
- Mindfulness meditation helps treat depression in mothers to be
- Meditation practices help regulate mood and anxiety disorders
- Meditation reduces stress and anxiety in general
- Meditation increases grey matter concentration in the brain
- Meditation reduces risk of heart diseases and stroke
Now that is just a very small selection out of hundreds covering many different aspects of health. But I hope the message is clear that meditation can do a whole lot for you. Give it a go you might just like it!
The importance here is to communicate clearly to our subconscious that we are beginning meditation and that for the period of the exercise all other thinking, all that random stuff that flows though our minds should be put on pause.
All aspects of us have to agree (Conscious and Unconscious) on what we plan to do, in this case Meditation. But the same internal agreement can and should be used for all aspects of life.
We tell our subconscious this as whether we know it or not it is the habits and beliefs of the subconscious that shape our life.
At least ninety per cent of our mental life is subconscious, so that those who fail to make use of this mental power live within very narrow limits.
Master Key by Charles Haanel
So this ally is always working upon the mental and emotional messages we give it. Our goal here then is to make sure our message is clear that we want to meditate and that the subconscious should assist us in doing so.
Time and Place
Fitting Meditation into our day is often a challenge and one of the reasons people give up. So before we even begin we need to decide when and where we will practice, this also links to our subconscious in the previous section.
Now this organization becomes more important when your practice grows or encompasses perhaps Yoga as well, or maybe your partner does not share your interest so you wish to practice in convenient times.
So this is one big reason apart from the natural inspiration we get, why early morning practice is one of the best times.
Once the day begins there is always something we need to go and do so it is better to make meditation a part of your day like brushing your teeth. This way rain or shine, happy or sad you still brush your teeth and you still meditate.
Of course this is not for everyone.
So before bed is another option. I find bedtime a little more difficult as I am usually tired by mid evening so though I get my practice completed every evening it is usually not as focused as my morning practice.
This tiredness is often mentioned if people are getting up early for meditation. They find it hard to adjust for one main reason. They did not prepare…..
They decided to get up early while continuing to go to bed at the same time. Instead of cutting out sleep, try and cut out activities you can do without like TV or gaming. Not give them up but one less show each evening will allow you to go to bed earlier if getting up early is your wish.
To try and do both is a recipe for exhaustion and eventually giving up the practice. What a shame to miss out on the many benefits of meditation.
Instead lets just try 10 -15 minutes earlier in the morning.
That should be sustainable rather than rising an hour earlier as some (myself included ) have attempted to do while continuing to go to bed at the same time.
Now the place.
Where should you meditate? Well where ever you feel comfortable and safe. We have to work with the circumstances we have. So in the past I have had a room dedicated to meditation practice, another time my work life was very busy so all meditation occurred in the car prior to meetings or at lunch time.
Now if you can keep to the same place this is better as once a habit is formed it magnetites you into the routine.
Just make sure you will not be disturbed and you can fully relax.
This may seem a strange addition to the guide but if you look back into history you will see the legendary Bodhidharma thought the preparation of the body was very important and I totally agree.
You can see from Yoga and just observing yourself that the body and mind have a relationship. Through working the body we can create an effect in the mind vice versa.
As a general guideline I believe a physical routine should be part of your daily program or at the very least some mobility exercises should be taken for healthy hips and joints. Now I am not recommending a full work out, I am talking about 2 mins in total to go through your joints moving them through their range of motion to get some lubrication happening. That is all.
In a general sense a physical routine helps keep us grounded and in touch with daily life. But my main reason for adding this is that I see so many people forcing themselves into unnatural positions and injuring themselves for the purpose of meditation.
Lets get this clear. You do not need to sit in ANY special position to meditate. You do not need Lotus, Crossed Legs, Kneeling or even be on the floor. You can simply sit on the edge of a chair or bed with your back straight, if that is no good for you then sit back in a chair and try to keep your back straight. Thats absolutely fine, just be comfortable.
Still many will continue to chase after Lotus position and sadly some will end up with damage to their knees and/or hips. So to help avoid this I have included some general exercises to help. Most of us have mobility issues but are not in touch with the body enough to notice until the body screams out in pain or physical damage to let us know.
Some joints should have more mobility and some should be more stable.
Think of Lotus position and what you see is the need for mobility and strength in the hip and entire pelvic region. Often the required mobility is not present so something else has to give, namely the knee and/or the ankle leading to many injuries we see in Yoga and from enthusiastic meditators.
Here is a general mobility sequence for the hips:
Here is a general sequence to help you get to Lotus.
Now remember as long as you feel comfortable and can maintain a seated position, what ever position that may be for 2-3 minutes then that is good enough.
Meditation is a mental process affected by the physical but not dominated by the physical.
As just mentioned. Don’t worry just pick a comfortable position. We are beginning meditation not Yoga.
Now there is endless debate between traditions and teachers about the details of the position. In my opinion it is of secondary importance to just starting. So all that follows understand these as guidelines and that as you sit you will find your own understanding of these details and find your own way.
Guidance for all positions.
- Let your spine be naturally straight by lifting up the rib cage.
- Suspend the torso from the rib cage (Yes I know this sounds weird but try it and you will say…aha!).
- Let the head remain neutral or slightly pointed down as is if tucking the chin. This will elongate the top of the spine.
- Let the tip of the tongue rest behind the front teeth on the roof of the mouth.
- Direct the eyes to the point between the eyebrow OR towards the tip of the nose.
There are more details and in time in other articles we can cover them.
For the purpose of this article I recommend you sit on a chair.
How to Meditate
Now you have been very patient and I thank you for reading this far.
How to meditate put that into Google and you will find hundreds of articles telling you all sorts of different ways to meditate.
I find it easier to define the approach to the meditation rather than the specific tradition or origin.
I use the following 3 definitions to describe different approaches but there is some overlap.
This approach focuses the mind on one thing, that may be breathing, counting, o the end of your nose. But it replace many thoughts with one.
Instead of restricting the senses we open ourselves up to all the stimuli we never usually notice. SO we increase our awareness and through this create a new state whereby the usual clatter of the mind is drowned out by the increase in information coming from the senses.
Called many things. This is more a fruit of practice where the practitioner lives in a state that would be described by others as meditation.
Now it is not a black and white subject, though there is a central science that lays behind the scenes up front on the surface is more like an art.
It is an expression.
So for now don’t get too worried about all these different methods. Just keep educating yourself and keep on meditating in which ever way you like, if it gets you results and adds to your life then go for it.
I mention a lot of varieties and go a bit more in depth here.
To keep things super simple think of glass of water for me. You got it? Okay now add a spoon on dirt/soil for each year you have been on this beautiful Earth.
Give it a shake and this is pretty much our mind. Another picture would be the teenagers bedroom as there is stuff everywhere, nothing is where it should be and nothing can be found!
You get the picture. So the process of meditation can be likened to slowly settling all the dirt/soil in the glass and then adding more and more clean water until all the dirt/soil has gone.
For the teenagers bedroom wow, we are in trouble it’s a complete mess in here so lets stick with the glass of water analogy.
So as you meditate the following will happen:
- At first it’s slow, all you can see is thoughts. It may be one of the first times you have really slowed down and looked at your mind.
- Bit by bit you notice more and more the thoughts and also perhaps begin to notice moments of stillness within the thoughts. Longer pauses and states of mind you are not accustomed to.
- You continue the process and begin to pour water into the glass. You subconscious has got used to meditating and is working along side you to clear out all the unnecessary thoughts and create longer moments of stillness. These still moments lead to insight.
- Who can say they are advanced at meditation? Maybe experienced is a better word.
- The idea is to keep going until you get to that clear glass of water.
- Now along the way we begin to notice things like a difference between the thoughts, some ae strong some are weak.
- We notice how they come to be and where they lead.
- We notice that even in the stillness there is an observer watching it all….
- You will also have had over this time a lot of sensations in the body that you may not have had before. Feelings such as heat, cold, heaviness, lightness and all sorts of things.
- It’s best to just ignore all of these and remain in your meditation.
- I will leave it there …..
Sit comfortably as described with spine straight, hands on thighs, shoulders back so you have an open chest.
Begin by mentally feeling and then relaxing all of your body. It is as simple as thinking foot > relax. Pay attention and you should feel subtle change. In a Taoist exercise I used to practice we would think ICE > WATER > GAS as a way of dissolving the tension in an area.
Once you have scanned and relaxed you whole body (this should take no more than 5 minutes) then close your eyes if you haven’t already keeping your eyes focused on the point between the eye brows.
Now with the body keep it 100% still, for best results as we are looking for a state where by we imperturbable. Meaning we are unmoved by sensations. This of course takes time but the more we can remain still and turn our attention inwards the more we can turn off the 5 senses.
Step 5: The first four steps may be enough you can just try and remain looking at the spot between the eyes trying to keep the eyes still. This can take us into a stillness.
If you want to move on a bit more try this.
Begin at 100 (depending on the time you have available) and count backwards on each breath.
Make the breath in through the nose nice and deep filling the chest and diaphragm. In and out no holding.
That is one.
So 100 In > Out 99 etc, etc.
Keep focused on every aspect from the breathing, the sensation of breathing to the mental sound of your voice counting in your head.
When you get to zero simply sit in the silence for as long as seems right for you.
If you want to go far with meditation then it is a good idea to make notes in a journal. Record anything you think is important or that you noticed.
You can use the same journal for recording dreams. Usually as our mind becomes clearer we notice and remember more, this includes our dream life.
We have covered a nice basic approach to meditation, if you follow those steps with consistency then you should start to really enjoy the benefits.
If you want to experiment a little I have included the following Meditation tools.
This is a good way to use the focus/distraction method. Find a good CD that touches you emotionally, emotions can create mental states. It is not the best approach in my opinion as you want to access these state like pressing a button on or off rather than waiting for the right emotions to maybe create the state.
You can also find yourself some guided meditations which combine music and speech.
You can find guided meditations here.
With modern technology comes the apps for everything…even meditation!
So here are some you might want to try (No affiliate links purely for your information).
Relax with Calm, a simple mindfulness meditation app featured in the New York Times and LifeHacker, that will bring more clarity, joy, and peace of mind into your life, at work or at home.
buddhify is the mindfulness app for your modern life.
Practical, playful and beautifully-designed, buddhify 2 increases your wellbeing by teaching you mindfulness-based meditation on the go.
With over 11 hours of custom meditations for 15 different parts of your day including traveling, being online, taking a work break and going to sleep, buddhify 2 gives you a simple but effective way to bring more mindfulness and calm to your busy day.
Meditation Top 10 Tips
- Forget the how, just do it.
- Know why you want to do it.
- Commit to it and make it a habit.
- Learn to stop and listen to yourself internally, how do you feel?
- Relax if your mind goes off, be gentle with yourself.
- Follow your breath.
- Remember yourself in daily life, meaning do not loose yourself in the moment.
- Save energy, do not waste it judging others spend it looking at yourself.
- Learn to bring the stillness into daily life,
- Embrace every moment of life, take that gratitude into your meditation.
We have come to the end of this guide.
There is not much more to say except that I really hope that this has been useful reading and a good use of your time.
Really Meditation is one of those things where writing just doesn’t do justice to the experience. So I really hope you go out there and begin to build your own experience in this amazing practice that keeps on giving the more time you spend in it.
So now ask yourself some questions, is this something you want to do. If it is set yourself a schedule and commit to it.
I have one request, if you do decide to begin and if this article has been helpful then please come back here and share your thoughts and experience.
Further Reading & Resources
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