Want to know how to meditate?
Relax—it’s a no-brainer. Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1: Preparation
Don’t worry about this step. You really do not need to prepare other than to find a place where you can either sit or lie down comfortably. Sit in a chair or on a cushion; or lie on the floor, perhaps on a Yoga or exercise mat. Just don’t be too comfortable—you want to be alert, not fall asleep.
This is not really a religious or spiritual experience as many people might think. It can be, but the point is that you do not have to believe in anything. There are no dogmas, or tenants or principles you need to believe in or assent to. It really does not matter what your religious, political, social, educational, or other belief systems may or may not be. Just find a relatively comfortable place you can relax and feel safe. As long as you can breathe then you are pretty well good to go.
Pretty easy so far, eh? Stay with me here, it doesn’t get any harder!
Step 2: Setting the Goal
The goal of meditation is to enter into a relaxed state which you have almost certainly been in before at some time or another, just that here we are going to attain this state by choice or on purpose. Rather than trying to describe this state, let’s just do it.
Step 3: Set the Mood
At this point you could lower the lights, light some incense, put on some relaxing music; generally create an atmosphere wherever you are that will help you be calm and relaxed. Or, don’t do any of these things if you don’t feel they would help.
You probably don’t want to have anything going on that would tend to attract your attention. Again, judge for yourself, but as an example, if you are the kind of person that likes to listen to the news and follow world events, then you probably don’t want your radio or TV blaring the news channel.
The key here is that as you meditate you want to let your mind and body relax and not have your mind trying to figure out what is happening in the Middle East. Save that task for later as it will likely be a ‘tough nut to crack’ and will be more conducive to a certain amount of inner turmoil rather than relaxed calm.
Step 4: Settle the Mind
So sit or lie down in a comfortable position, close your eyes and relax into the lovely restful external atmosphere that you have just created for yourself.
Now comes the gateway into a meditative state. The key to this gateway is to not try to do anything. Specifically, you want to completely relax your body (let go of any muscle tension) and your mind (calming the mind so that you are not thinking about anything).
The idea is to get your body and your mind to just relax, and for just a few minutes of your day, do nothing. We live such busy lives that we are almost always in motion—moving our bodies and/or our minds in response to the multitude of stimulus that we receive or that we ourselves generate. We are so used to living like this that sometimes we have forgotten how to relax and be calm. It can be hard to do nothing and to just be.
So, how do we manage this?
Relax, there are a couple of tricks that you can use to do this. So, I will just give you two simple techniques to use. Try them both if you like.
Step 5: The Technique
The first technique is to just relax and don’t think about anything. Of course, thinking about not thinking about anything kind of defeats the purpose. So, instead, just concentrate on your breath—breathe in and out slowly and just feel your breath.
Then, after a bit you can just let go and just be—no judging, no thought for the past or future, no fear or worry, just be there in calmness. If thoughts come up, then just imagine they are like clouds floating in the sky, or leaves floating on a river. They are there but you don’t resist them, you just let them float by. Return to your breath. After a while the thoughts will become fewer and the peaceful state between them will become longer.
There, you are doing it.
The second technique is similar to the first, but this time as we lay with eyes closed we begin to take our attention to each part of our body. Start with the left toes, for example, and feel each. Move on to the left foot, then the ankle, and so on. Just let your consciousness feel into each part of your body and where you feel any tenseness, imagine your breath going to that spot and helping to relax it.
Work through your whole body like this. You should then be very relaxed. If thoughts intrude, then just observe them and let them go.
In both cases, the idea is to have your consciousness seek that calm and peaceful space between thoughts, between breathes. There for a while you can just be quiet and at peace with yourself and with the world around you.
Just let yourself settle into that blissful place for a while to refresh your body, mind and spirit.
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Edited by: Ben Neal