|Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts
to get beyond the conditioned, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of
relaxation or awareness. There are many different
At the core of meditation is the goal to focus
and eventually quiet your mind. As you progress, you will find that you
meditate anywhere and at any time, accessing an inner calm no matter
what's going on around you. But first, you have to learn to tame your
Make time to meditate
. Set aside enough time in your daily
routine for meditating. The effects of meditation are most
noticeable when you do it regularly and consistently rather than
Some people will find a five minute meditation worthwhile, for others,
the benefits of longer meditation are well worth the time.
You can meditate at any time of day; some people like to start
their day off with meditation, others like to end the day by
clearing their mind, and some prefer to find refuge in meditation in
the middle of a busy day. Generally, however, the easiest time to
meditate is in the morning, before the day's events tire your body
out and give your mind more to think about.
Don't meditate immediately following a meal, or when you are
likely to be hungry. The body's digestive system can be very
Find or create a quiet, relaxing environment. It's especially
important, when you're starting out, to avoid any obstacles to attention.
Turn off any TV sets, phone(s) or other noisy appliances. If you play
music, make sure it's calm, repetitive and gentle, so as not to break your
concentration. Meditating outside can be conducive, as long as you don't
sit near a busy roadway or another source of loud noise. Sit on level
ground. Sit on a cushion if the ground is uncomfortable. You don't
have to twist your limbs into the lotus position or adopt any unusual
postures. The important thing is to keep your back straight, as this will
help with breathing later on
You can also meditate on a chair. Make sure your back is straight
(whether you lean against the chair or sit free does not matter). Your
feet should rest solidly on the ground
Any position in which you're relaxed but your back is straight is
permissible, even lying down - but be careful that you're not so relaxed
that you fall asleep. In warm weather, consider watching the clouds.
Keep your eyes half-open without focusing on anything. If this
is too distracting or difficult, close them or find something steady to
focus on such as a small candle flame.
Breathe deeply and slowly from your abdomen rather than your
chest. You should feel your stomach rise and fall while your chest stays
relatively still. Healthy, stress relieving breathing may be done by
inhaling for count of 3, exhaling for count of 6, repeat over and over for
15 to 20 minutes. This expels the used air and more completely oxygenates
your blood, lowering heart rate and blood pressure. Many high blood
pressure patients have dropped their blood pressure as much as 50 points,
allowing them to decrease or eliminate the need for medication. This
breathing exercise should be done on a regular basis.
Relax every muscle in your body. Don't rush this, as it takes
time to fully relax. Do it bit by bit, starting at your toes, and working
up to your head, until the tension melts away.
Focus your attention. You may notice that your mind wants to
wander, bouncing from thought to thought, making observations about other
things. Gently bring your attention back to a single point until it rests
there naturally. The goal is to allow the "chattering" in your mind to
gradually fade away. Find an "anchor" to settle your mind.
Let your attention rest on the flow of your breath. Listen to it,
follow it, but make no judgments on it (such as "It sounds a little
raspy...maybe I'm getting a cold?").
To overcome verbal chatter, recite a mantra (repetition of a sacred
word). A single word like "aum" uttered at a steady rhythm is best. You
can recite it verbally or just with the voice in your mind. Beginners may
find it easier to count their breaths. Try counting your breath from 1 to
10, then simply start again at 1.
To circumvent images that keep intruding on your thoughts, visualize a
place that calms you. It can be real or imaginary. Imagine you are at the
top of a staircase leading to a peaceful place. Count your way down the
steps until you are peaceful and relaxed.
For some people, focusing attention on a point or object does exactly
the opposite of what meditation is all about. It takes you back to the
life of 'focus', 'concentration', 'strain'. In this case, as an
alternative to the above techniques, some meditators recommend un-focusing
your attention. Instead of focusing attention on a point or an object,
this type of meditation is achieved by attaining a state of zero.
Take your attention above all thoughts till a point you lose all attention
and all thoughts.
Silence your mind. Once you've trained your mind to focus on
just one thing at a time, the next step is focus on nothing at all,
essentially "clearing" your mind. This requires tremendous discipline but
is the pinnacle of meditation. After focusing on a single point as
described in the previous step, you can either cast it away, or observe it
impartially and let it come and then go, without labeling it as "good" or
"bad". Take the same approach to any thoughts which return to your mind
until silence perseveres.
- What you do with a silent mind is up to you. Some people find that
it is a good time to introduce an intention or a desired outcome to the
subconscious mind. Others prefer to "rest" in the rare silence that
meditation affords. Read up on the different types of meditation and
- You should be comfortable enough to concentrate, but not so
comfortable that you feel the urge to fall asleep.
- Make some effort to be mindful of your mood and thoughts when not
meditating. You may notice that you feel calmer, happier, and sharper on
days when you have meditated, and notice a decrease in these qualities
when you have not.
- It may be beneficial to mentally review or replay the previous day
at the start of your sessions, if you can do so in a relaxed, passive
way. This often happens naturally, and sometimes it's best to allow this
to happen, as long as you don't get emotionally wrapped up or let it go
on too long before beginning meditation. This procedure is known as
"processing" of recent events, and becoming skilled at performing a
non-judgmental review of events does much to increase awareness and
- The benefits of meditation can be experienced long before the
practitioner has been successful in maintaining focus or clearing the
mind, simply as a result of the practice.
- Set aside a specific time each day for meditation, but don't overdo
it. If 20-30 minutes in the morning isn't enough, add another session
later in the day instead of trying for a single, longer session.
- It is easy to lose track of time while meditating. Being concerned
about time can be distracting to meditation. Some people find it
liberating to set a timer and let it be concerned about how long you
have to meditate. Choose a gentle timer. If it is too jarring, the
anticipation of the alarm can be distracting also.
- Some people find that praying can be an effective form of
meditation, and they believe in meditating, or "praying through,"
perhaps for hours to find peace. For peace, naturally your prayer would
not be "begging," but more like being grateful for your breath
and acknowledging your many blessings... rather than complaining.
- Meditation isn't about getting anywhere or being anything. It's not
about quieting your mind, it's about LISTENING to your mind. It's not
about obtaining some goal of nirvana or enlightenment or whatever. It's
not a self improvement course because you're already perfect just the
way you are. It's about you accepting you right here, right now, for
this meditation session.
- Don't expect immediate results. The purpose of meditation is not to
turn you into a Zen master overnight. Meditation works best when it is
done for its own sake, without becoming attached to results.
- If you find your mind is wandering, try not to scold or beat up on
yourself about it. Wandering restlessly is the normal state of the
conditioned mind. This is the first lesson many people learn in
meditation and it is a valuable one. Simply, gently, invite your
attention back to your breath, remembering that you've just had a small
but precious "awakening." Becoming aware of your wandering mind is a
success, not a failure.
- Some people find it's difficult to meditate immediately before
bedtime. If you're very sleepy, you may find yourself nodding off.
Conversely, meditating may energize your mind, making it more difficult
to fall asleep.
- As you meet other people who meditate, you'll encounter a few who
will boast about their endurance for long meditation sessions--even
hours and hours at a sitting. Don't be tempted to change your practice
to "keep up." Meditation is not competitive.
- Avoid bad dreams: if pleading and begging in prayer is your form of
meditation, change that to being thankful and blessing others--in
prayer and in life--to help you progress, sleep, and avoid bad dreams,
proven by practitioners.