In many of my articles on self improvement, I often suggest meditation can be an invaluable aid to alleviating many of our daily problems. I don’t look upon meditation just as a problem solver, I meditate because I enjoy the consciousness of meditation. But, if we can gain real peace of mind through meditation, there is no problem that cannot be helped in some way. These a few preliminary steps for learning how to meditate.
Firstly, find a suitable quiet place for meditation. If it is very hard to find somewhere quiet, use some meditative music to drown out background sounds. If possible keep a corner of your room reserved just for meditation; this will help build up a meditative vibration in that particular part.
2. The basics
- It is important to meditate with a straight back. (If you try meditating whilst lying down, you are more likely to fall asleep, than entering into a high state of meditation.)
- Don’t meditate after eating a heavy meal – you will feel lethargic and sleepy.
- If possible shower and wear clean clothes before meditating.
- Try to switch off. If you try to meditate straight after work, you may be still thinking about the day. Try reading some books on meditation to help make the transition from work to meditation.
To meditate it is important to relax and switch off. Tell yourself that for the next 10-15 minutes, you don’t have to think about the past or future – just concentrate on the present moment and your meditation. Let go of any tension in your body and try to be fully aware of the present moment. This stage of relaxation is a preliminary stage to meditation; but, it is worth emphasizing that meditation is more than just relaxation.
The most helpful aid to meditation is proper breathing. Our breathing has a big impact on our mind; if we can quieten our breathing it will help slow down our mind. Focusing on our breathing and nothing else will have a beneficial effect on our meditation. The beauty of meditation is its simplicity. – Just be fully conscious of your breathing, feel you are breathing in peace; if you can do this without getting distracted you will be able to meditate most effectively.
5. The calm mind
“When you meditate, what you actually do is to enter into a calm or still, silent mind. We have to be fully aware of the arrival and attack of thoughts. That is to say, we shall not allow any thought, divine or undivine, good or bad, to enter into our mind. Our mind should be absolutely silent. Then we have to go deep within; there we have to observe our real existence. “
– Sri Chinmoy
With these preliminary stages you can now concentrate on cultivating a calm and quiet mind. This is the essence of meditation, whatever form of meditation you pursue, they will share this common goal of quietening the mind. It is only when we can have a mind free of thoughts that we will be able to experience real meditation. What happens is that we can quieten the mind we can expand our consciousness and bring the soul to the fore. We we feel an expansion of our consciousness; when we have a good feeling towards the world, – this is real meditation.
6. What is good meditation?
We can know we are meditating well when we have a good view towards the world. If we feel tension and disturbance then our meditation is not working well. We should have a feeling of simplicity and humility; if we feel proud with ourselves this is not a good sign. Meditation aims to reduce the ego, not expand it.
7. But meditation is difficult
Many newcomers to meditation find it difficult to quieten the mind. This is because the mind is so used to thinking that when we try to stop it is quite a shock to the system. But, if we really want to do something we persevere and practice; meditation is no different, the more we put into meditation the more we will get from it.
Also, quite often people report that they find meditation difficult, but at the same time, they enjoy the experience, and after meditation they feel good. This is a sign that we are getting something positive from meditation. We don’t have to be expert meditators to get some benefits.
8. Never give up!
An important thing about meditation is that we need the self-discipline to meditate every day. We may not always have a great meditation, but if we keep a daily practise then we will make progress. If we want to be a great musician, we wouldn’t expect to be perfect over night. But, regular practise helps us to become better.
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