Meditation is a action in which an person trains the mind to be induced to a state of relaxed consciousness to gain some benefit or as and end in itself. Meditation has been used since antiquity and is a major component in many of the worlds cultures.
By learning this very basic art, you can undergo a psychological process in which your attention will be brought to the internal and external experiences around you in what is called mindfulness. Many scientific studies have shown that meditation and mindfulness is heavily correlated with greater well-being and perceived health. The effects of meditation – and – range from the relief of stress to a general reduction of anxiety and even depression. (see here) Today, more and more people are only know discovering the benefits that this ancient practice can yield in our hectic and often toxic reality today.
In this article, we shall look at 6 simple steps to start meditating and how it will make the greatest difference in your life.
STEP 1: Settle on a Purpose for Meditating
Whether you’re searching for inner peace, an alleviation of stress, or just simply curious, it is important to know exactly what it is you want out of meditation. This is so that you have a clear goal to work for and a source of drive. Meditation takes some practice to be able to do with ease so don’t get frustrated. Having a clear objective to work for will give you enough motivation to continue your practice.
It can be anything from a desire to be more grounded and calmer or to find out inner truths about yourself that you wouldn’t have discovered in the regular course of our hectic lives.
STEP 2: Find your area of Practice
This should be a spot that’s free of external distractions. An area that is quiet and relatively peaceful for you. It can be anywhere you find peaceful but if you have your own bedroom then this will likely be the best spot.
Once you have an area to meditate, clear it of any dirt or clutter. You may place a meditation alter with crystals, rocks, candles and/or anything you feel will aid you in your meditations. You may also play meditation music or light incenses or scented candles for a nice aroma.
STEP 3: Find your Sitting Position
There are many recommendations out there on how best to sit for meditation. However, the emphasis is still on your own comfort. You get no benefit out of the full lotus position as a beginner – aside from joint pain.
Find a position you feel the most comfortable in. This may be the cross-legged position, sitting on a cushion, or even sitting on a chair if your legs tend to get numb from sitting cross-legged.
STEP 4: Clear your Mind
Once you are seated, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and just relax.
STEP 5: Allow your Thoughts to Float By
Many people make the mistake of thinking that meditating is literally about trying your best to think about nothing. Keeping your mind an empty void. This is simply not true since in its simply impossible to think of absolutely nothing.
Meditation is in fact the opposite. You must allow yourself to think but do not fixate. Your are but an observer and must simply acknowledge a thought and let it go. Allow yourself to understanding that those thoughts and emotions exist and are there but do not engage any of them, instead letting them float by. This is also where you develop Mindfulness.
This will take some practice and a lot of focus since most thoughts, feelings or images tend to warrant a reaction. For example, you have a thought that says “I have to go to work tomorrow”, you must learn to acknowledge that thought is there but not fixate on it. If you engage this thought, it will in turn affect you in ways such as: feeling annoyed that you have to work, or worrying about your some deadline you have to meet. This must be avoided. Your goal is to reach the state of an observer, not to engage your thoughts.
The purpose of this is to clear your mind of all the thoughts that are fighting for your attention. You are clearing them out – one by one. After routine meditations, you will eventually reach inner quietness in which you are at peace with yourself. You will be able to focus much more than before and live more in the present.
STEP 6: Coming out of your Meditation
Meditate for as long as you want or until you feel cleansed and purified. 30 minutes should cut it but if you wish to go longer then that’s perfect! When you are ready to return to your physical self, begin by acknowledging the physical world around you. Then, acknowledge your physical body and slowly open your eyes. Take your time when doing this and do not rush. If you open your eyes too quickly and try to resume physical activities, you will be left feeling jarred.
Spend some time after meditating, still seated, to reflect on the thoughts, emotions, and images you’ve gone through during your meditation. Try also to put your thoughts to the present without prejudice or judgment.
It is common among novices to find themselves falling asleep during their meditations. This can be due to mental fatigue caused by a lot mental clutter. To avoid dozing off during meditations, it would be best to meditate in the morning after waking up. You will find yourself even more energized after.
Some individuals experience resistance when trying to meditate. This is because of the negative thoughts that comes to the surface. It is important that you remain an OBSERVER in meditating and not and ENGAGER. Realize that those thoughts, feelings, or images exist in your mind but they will simply float by. Once you get past these resistances, your meditation will become a more comfortable and easy experience.
Meditation and mindfulness can help combat depression, alleviate anxiety, greatly lessen stress, and improve your general well-being. It helps you focus and turns you into a calmer, more grounded human being. It has been in practice for thousands of years by a multitude of races, religions, and traditions. Cultivate this indispensable habit for your own inner growth and health.
- Do You Have to Sit Cross-Legged to Meditate? gaiam.com, 2009
- IGNORE YOUR MIND: Don’t give thoughts a second thought, Dean Sluyter, themindfulword.org, 2015