For thousands of years meditation has been used as a means for achieving deep levels of spirituality and inner peace. For decades it has also been the focus of extensive scientific research, and the data collected overwhelmingly point to numerous positive results like stress reduction.
Getting started with a regular practice, however, could be a little daunting for some. The tips I'm about to share should facilitate the process. For more info on some of its health benefits here's a link.
Whether in a chair or cross-legged on the floor, you need to feel comfortable so you can remain still for the length of your session. If you choose to sit on the floor, I recommend using a cushion to help you prop your sit bones.
They can be open as if receiving gifts from God or the universe. You may also use a mudra — a symbolic hand gesture commonly seen in meditators and believed to facilitate the flow of energy throughout the body. Chin mudra (thumb and forefinger together) is a popular one for meditation.
Focus your attention on the spot between your eyebrows, your Third-Eye Chakra (which symbolizes internal wisdom and is thought of as a link to one's higher Self). Mentally scan your body for your posture, ideally sitting straight up with your head, neck and back in a straight line. Shoulders relaxed.
Is it shallow and short, for instance, or is it deep and relaxed? Observe it. In this approach to meditation we would breath in and out through the nose at all times.
Feel yourself more present as you do this and let go of the cares and concerns of the day. While concentrating on it, your breath should become fluid, effortless. Honor the moment you’re investing in your own physical and emotional well-being, as meditation is indeed a form of self-care.
When thoughts rush through your head, don’t fight them, don’t obsess over them (also don’t judge yourself). Rather, remind yourself that ‘I am not my thoughts, I am not my mind.’ You can eventually watch the thoughts disappear as passing clouds in the sky, by simply becoming the observer. If they persist you can try focusing on your breath or a mantra like OM, for example. Any breathing pattern can also help quiet the busy mind. Very simply make your inhalations and exhalations equally long. Mentally count to 3 as you breathe in and 3 as you breathe out. It really helps! More on mantras on a different blog to come.
A set time of the day for your practice is not mandatory but ideal. By doing that you will create a routine — a ritual — and train your mind. You’ll get better results.
Don’t try to accomplish anything when you meditate as the results don’t always come quickly and are more nuanced than you may think. Instead, think of it as a brief moment to give your mind a break by not engaging any thought or external stimulus (like a RESET button). Yes, the idea is indeed to quiet the mind but that could take a while. Take these as the baby steps needed to rewire your brain. It all will come with diligent practice.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t experience anything in the first attempt or two. Your mind (the ego) may be imposing an agenda or expecting immediate results, it may be too busy to notice the subtleties.
Though it may sound a bit like a cliché, trusting the process is a very important element so by all means, have some faith and enjoy the journey!
And there you go! These simple steps should help you get started with what could be a very beneficial new habit.
Most people experience a sense of serenity and mental clarity with only a few attempts. Regular practice will yield greater results (of course) giving you a more positive outlook and mental clarity. You may become more accepting, less judgmental toward others — and more importantly toward yourself. Also, your response to situations will become more tactful, less reactive.
So give it a go and experience meditation for yourself! Tap into the serenity and mental clarity that the sages have known about for thousands of years, and that modern scientists are now beginning to wrap their minds around. I guarantee it won’t be time wasted. Plus you may end up loving it and (who knows?) embarking on a whole new journey...