When you hear people talking about meditation, the first image that would conjure in your mind are monks in robes enveloped by clouds of incense, which is not necessarily true. As you can see, this practice is not all about spirituality and religion, but is also about training your mind to bring your feelings and thoughts into a state of awareness, assessing yourself and its place in the world.
Since a time far past, Buddhists already know the great benefits of meditation to the body, mind and soul, which are believed to be even more significant in today’s world that has become busier more than ever. According to modern research, this practice can help reduce stress, improve attention and alertness, enhances memory, boost feelings of compassion and increase creativity and productivity. Because of these reasons, you might as well start meditating. Here is a guideline for you:
1. Know what you want to achieve. Remember that people do meditation for a variety of reasons, such as making a spiritual connection, visualizing a goal, improving creativity or calming their minds. However, it is reason enough to meditate if you want to spend a little moment in your daily life to be present in your body. Reasons should not be over-complicated, as meditation, at its core, is just about relaxing and preventing to be caught up in everyday grinds.
2. Choose an area that is free from distractions. When you are a beginner, it is essential to meditate in an environment that is clear of distracting sensations. You can have this by closing your doors to certain noises, closing your windows against the busy street, turning off your TV or radio and other things that can make your space solemn. If you are sharing your space with other people, you can courteously ask them if they could keep quite during the time you would meditate and then resume as soon as you are done. You can also add in some flowers, scented candles or incense, as well as dim or turn the lights off, to enhance your meditation experience.
3. Prepare a meditation cushion or zafus. You can use this cushion to sit on the floor while you meditate. If you do not have it yet, then a sofa cushion or a pillow will do well in keeping you from getting sore during a long session of cross-legged sitting. But if you are suffering from back pain, you are free to use a chair to have support for your back.
4. Don comfortable clothing. Avoid wearing anything that would pull you out of meditative thinking, which means you have to set aside your tight pants or jeans during this time. Basically, you can wear those clothing you use when you exercise or sleep, which are loose and breathable.
5. Choose your most comfortable and convenient time of the day. As you can see, you would meditate to calm yourself down when you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious. As a starter, you might find it difficult to concentrate at first when you are not in the right state of mind, thus it is recommended to do it when you are already feeling relaxed, which could be in the morning or when you are about to unwind from your daily activities. And again, make sure it will be free from distractions.
6. Secure a timer. When meditating, you want to make sure you practice it enough, while not interrupting your concentration by having to check the time. So, you might want to set a timer app, which you can find in modern gadgets, for the length of time of your desired meditation.
1. Sit on your cushion. Doing this with a straight back, you will be able to concentrate on your breathing as you rhythmically inhale and exhale. If you are using a chair with a back, then try not to lean back against its back support or slouch, as you need to be erect as possible. Position your legs in a way that is comfortable, where you can cross it beneath you when on a cushion or extend them out in front of you if on a chair, as long as your posture remains straight.
2. Choose the hand pose that is comfortable for you. Seeing a lot of people in the media holding their hands at their knees during meditation does not mean that you have to do the same. If you are feeling uncomfortable with it, then you do not have to worry, as you can also fold them in your lap or just let them hang at your sides.
3. Tilt your chin in a way that you are looking downward. In this position, it would not matter if you open or close your eyes, though the latter would make it easier for you to prevent visual distractions. The important thing is you are able to hold tilting your head, as this will open up your chest and allow for easy breathing.
4. Set the duration of your session with the timer. When you are ready to begin, set your timer for however long you would like to meditate. As a starter, you can begin small with 3 to 5 minutes and then work your way up to 30 minutes, 1 hour or even longer if you like.
5. Keep your mouth closed while you perform your breathing. When meditating, it is recommended to both inhale and exhale through your nose. Also, make sure you are relaxing your jaw muscles—do not clench them or grind your teeth for total relaxation.
6. Concentrate on your breathing. As you can see, meditation is all about giving yourself something good to focus on, which is your breathing, rather than trying not to think of what can stress you out in your daily activities. This means that you should focus all of your concentration on your inhalation and exhalation, and you will find yourself seeing all other thoughts falling away on their own, without having to ignore them. To do this, make sure it will be most comfortable for you, like trying to focus on how your lungs would expand and contract or thinking about how air passes through your nose when you breathe. Basically, you just need to bring yourself to a state of mind where you are solely focused on any aspect of your breathing.
7. Observe, but do not analyze, your breathing. The goal of meditation is to be present within each breath, so do not worry about explaining the experience or remembering what you are feeling and just experience your every breath for the time being. Do not think about the breathing with your mind and just experience it using your senses. If your attention wanders away from your breathing, bring your attention back to it. As you can see, even experienced individuals find their thoughts wandering at certain points during meditation, with all the things happening in their lives. The important thing is, you will be able to ignore these unnecessary thoughts and gently nudge your concentration back to the sensation of breathing. One good way to do this is maintaining your focus on your inhalations, instead of exhalations.
8. Remember not to be too hard on yourself. Remember that focus can be difficult when you are just starting out with meditation, so do not be hard on yourself. Do not expect that this practice will change your life overnight, as mindfulness truly takes time to show its influence. Keep meditating every day and then lengthen your sessions if possible.
The Right Expectations
During meditation, you might experience feelings of fear, boredom, frustration, pain, anxiety or anger, but do not worry as this is just normal that should be acknowledged and let go. As you might get caught up in expectations of meditating or doubt if you are doing it right, try to throw out those ideas and simply practice observing the things that would emerge during each moment while you are meditating.
As you continue this practice and able to settle more with your breathing, you should be able to apply the same calmness and interested attention to the many things you experience in life. For example, you would become very aware of the state your body is in and the tensions and sensations that you may have been experiencing before that kept you from performing better. With the right level of mindfulness, you will be able to release tensions, as well as recurring feelings and emotions, putting you in a state where you have “weeded your mind”.
Whatever level you are at, it is important to practice every day, especially when you are just starting out. By doing so, you will be able to develop a habit that is essential to succeed. However, it might not be as easy as it sounds, as you will need to dedicate hard work and lots of practice to get better. The more you do it, the easier sit will become!
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