How to Meditate Successfully?

What is the current status of your meditation practice? - You love to meditate and would like to gain some insights about how to go even deeper or make it even more effective? - What motivates you to meditate? In this article, we explore 4 Steps to Setup a Successful Meditation Session.

What is the current status of your meditation practice? Is it in the idea stage, waiting to be implemented at the right time? Maybe you know it’s something that would be good for you, but haven’t yet clicked into doing it as a daily routine?

Or maybe, you’ve done it at times, but either been frustrated by the results or lost interest? Or perhaps, you love to meditate and would like to gain some insights about how to go even deeper or make it even more effective?

In this article, we explore 4 Steps to Setup a Successful Meditation Session.

  1. Set Up a Meditative Space

Whether it’s a spare room, a closet, or a part of your bedroom, define a space that you dedicate to meditation. You can mark this space with a rug, a meditation bench, chair, or cushion.

By meditating in the same space consistently it comes to represent « meditation » to you, and thereby becomes a space that supports you moving into a meditative state. After a period of time, just sitting in this space will relax you.

Another way to enhance the atmosphere of your meditation space is to set up an « altar » that represents what is important to you in your practice and your life.

If the idea of having an altar inspires you, it can take any form that is pleasing and motivating to you. It can include photos, symbols, candles, flowers, offering bowls, statues, quotes, and so on. The basic idea is to put significant items there-ones that put you in the right mindset for meditating and remind you WHY you are taking time to practice.

If you use meditation to support a religious faith, place images or items that represent your faith on your altar. Personally, I have symbols of several different spiritual traditions in my space to represent the Universal Spirituality underlying all faiths and traditions. I also have family pictures and quotes that remind me of my higher intentions. The most important quality of your altar is that it represents what is important to you.

Once you’ve meditated in your sacred space for a while and used it to grow your inner skills, you’ll be able to take your meditation on the road and do it virtually anytime, anywhere-no matter what is going on around you. This is when your meditation becomes truly powerful. Yet, even then, you’ll probably really appreciate and value those times when you get to meditate in your sacred space.

  1. Create a Ritual Around Your Practice

Set a regular time for meditation and create a consistent routine that moves you into your practice.

One way to support regular practice is to make meditation a part of an established routine that you already do. For most people, the best way is to integrate meditation into their morning routine. This encourages you to start your day from a relaxed, present, intentional perspective-and it insures that you meditate before other events in the day get in the way.

Once you’ve decided on the time you will meditate, plan your day accordingly. If you are meditating first thing, make sure you go to bed early enough that you can comfortably wake up early enough to practice without rushing. Set your alarm to wake you up with plenty of time.

Once you get up, have a routine to move you into your practice. For example, I first massage around my eyes and back of my head while still lying in bed. I then massage the bottoms of my feet with some tennis balls that are at the foot of my bed when I sit up. I use the toilet, then splash water on my face and massage my scalp. Then, I do some stretches to limber up before I stand in my standing meditation posture. All of this awakens and loosens me up and prepares me for a good practice session.

After standing meditation, I do a seated meditation, then I shake out my whole body, and finish with prayers for my family and the whole planet at my altar.

Having a routine that includes how I wake up, makes the movement into my practice seamless and reliable. Over the years, I have adapted and grown my routine as needs, insights, and new learning have guided me. Yet, the basic idea of having a ritual sequence has made waking up something that I look forward to and moving into my practice easy and natural.

  1. Adjust Your Posture

If you search for photos of people meditating, nine times out of ten you’ll find them seated in a cross-legged position. Unfortunately, this gives many people the impression that this is THE WAY to meditate. I heartily disagree.

In fact, unless you’ve grown up in a culture in which that is the way you normally sit, I encourage you to sit on a chair, bench, or bed that puts the soles of your feet flat on the floor and parallel with each other, with your hips level with or slightly above your knees.

Having the soles of your feet flat on the floor and parallel to each other puts you in a « grounded » position that also bio-mechanically aligns your feet, knees, and hips. This position is easy on your joints.

There are many acceptable hand positions for meditation-each with their own purpose. A basic starting position is to place your hands palms-down on your legs. This position is relaxing, while it also supports upright posture and alert attention. Finer points are « softening » your hands and lowering your shoulders to release tension and having a slight space under your armpits to encourage an open, expansive, spacious feeling in your body.

Next, imagine a string attached to the top of your head, drawing your spine into an upright position. Tuck your chin slightly to lengthen the back of your neck and put a subtle smile on your lips to encourage a calm, accepting, positive attitude.

Lightly close your eyes to support you in focusing inwardly. Unless you are using a technique that focuses on energy above your head, direct your gaze slightly downward. After practicing a while, you may notice that your eyes naturally open just slightly, with a soft focus to the outer environment.

Finally, sit forward on the front edge of your seat. Sit far enough forward so you feel some weight in your feet, which encourages a grounded, present feeling in your body. Sitting without back support also aligns and strengthens your spine, which has an empowering affect.

As you align and strengthen your spine, you are more likely to stay aligned with your higher intentions and feel strong in following them, rather than getting distracted and swayed by less important desires. You develop a strong « backbone. »

Now, many people email me saying that this posture is just too hard and painful to maintain.

The reason for that is tension along the spine, weakness, and misalignment. Meditation practice is actually a powerful way to overcome these issues. First it reveals those issues, then it heals those issues.

During your meditation, you become aware of spinal tension, weakness, and misalignment. And, yes, that doesn’t feel so good, initially. Yet, if you can accept it and observe it without judgment, without fighting it, over time, you’ll notice that the tensions release, the spine adjusts, you come into alignment, and get stronger.

A well-known meditation teacher, Dr. Meares, says that some discomfort when starting to meditate is actually a good thing, because it teaches you to be able to observe discomfort without reacting, judging, or running away from it. As you calmly sit with discomfort, over time, it resolves and changes for the better. This is a powerful lesson to take with you into any uncomfortable situation in life. Be calmly present, relax and observe things non-judgmentally, then notice resolutions as they arise.

All that being said in favor of sitting upright without back support, you might approach this incrementally. Start by sitting forward for just a minute or two, calmly observe any discomfort until it is just too distracting, then sit back against support for the remainder of your practice. Gradually increase the amount of time that you sit in an unsupported upright position. After practicing for a period of time, this will actually become a comfortable, relaxed, and empowered way for you to sit.

One caveat is that some people cannot sit this way due to severe physical impairments. If that is the case, you can use back support or even lie down to meditate. If you do that, simply try to keep your spine as straight as possible by imagining that string extending your spine, tuck your chin slightly, adopt a subtle smile, soften your hands, and lightly close your eyes.

  1. Adopt the Three Noble Principles-Good in the Beginning, Good in the Middle, Good at the End

In their book, « Meditation: An In-Depth Guide, » Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson share these three principles for meditation practice.

« Good in the Beginning » means that when you start a meditation session call to mind your intention, your motivation for practicing. You might want to « relax, to be calm, to let go of stress, to be well, to heal. But what is suggested here is that the more we can expand our motivation, the more encompassing our motivation, the more meaningful our meditation becomes, the more we will value it, the more likely we are to do it, and the more benefit it will bring. » (p.69, Meditation: An In-Depth Guide)

Consider how your meditation practice will have a positive impact on your day, on your interactions with others, and even on the collective consciousness of « all of us together. » What if your practice is making a positive contribution not only to your life, but also to the lives of others, and to all life on Earth?

In the Buddhist tradition, the goal of meditation practice is enlightenment, so that we can use our enlightenment to bring enlightenment to all beings. In the Christian contemplative tradition, meditation leads us into deeper communion with God, so that we bring Divine Love and Light into the world. In a mind-body view of meditation, we come into a relaxed, expanded, focused state so that we heal our wounds, grow our inner skills, be more effective in anything we do, and more caring and compassionate with others.

What motivates you to meditate?

« Good in the Middle » has to do with your attitude during meditation. The attitude to practice is calm, present, non-judgmental awareness of whatever happens. Recognize whatever comes up, accept it, release it, and return to your focal cues.

« Good in the End » has to do with how you finish your practice. Rather than rushing off into your day, it’s important to end intentionally and even to dedicate your practice to someone or something beyond yourself. From a meditative state you can more easily visualize positive outcomes for yourself, others, and the planet. You are also in a powerful state from which to pray. You can use your meditation to connect to a greater mission in life, such as being a vessel for Spirit to be more present in the world.

As you end your meditation think of how the skills you developed and the state of being you entered can have a greater impact in the larger whole.

When you Set Up a Meditative Space, Create a Ritual Around Your Practice, Sit with Good Posture, and Adopt the Three Noble Principles, your meditation practice will become much easier and more enjoyable, significant, and successful.

Enjoy your practice!

Meditation Techniques For Beginners

Meditation Techniques For Beginners We all must start somewhere however so here are a few meditation techniques for beginners and also for those who have tried and failed thus far.

The power and effectiveness of regular and deep meditation has been known for centuries by those who have actively learned and practiced it. As the world gets busier and our lives continue to get more involved and stressed, more and more people are turning to this peaceful art in order to gain some balance.

Previously, meditation could only be achieved through years of discipline, training and focus but now there are some amazingly easy Meditation Techniques For Beginners that puts deep meditation in reach of everyone! If you have tried meditation before and failed or are just starting out – please read on!

But what is it about meditation techniques and why is it important?

The great Swami Nirliptananda is quoted as saying « Meditation is very important. It has a very high objective-to take us away from this world of suffering into the world of happiness, joy and Bliss. It is a method, a discipline, that we have to follow very discreetly and if we follow it properly we will find that meditation helps us to discover ourselves, what we really are. As we get deeper into meditation we come nearer to the Source of our Being. »

Pretty straight forward but extremely powerful!

When many people meditate, they try to consciously block out all thoughts and disturbances from their brain and mind to achieve a clear and peaceful state. What many fail to realize is that it is very hard to simply do this as a conscious effort and it is in fact the training of your brain that allows you to completely clear your mind. We find this incredibly hard to do simply because for years we have been taught and encouraged to have the ability to focus on more than one thing at a time. The inability to do this normally results in negative comments made especially if you are a husband being harassed by your wife for not being able to simultaneously look after the children, program the VCR, hang out the washing and listen to the intricacies of her day!:)

The ultimate goal of meditation techniques is to get the mind into a state of ecstasy or « gnosis » and is achieved by changing our brainwaves from our normal everyday Beta state, through to Alpha state and then finally into the Theta state. Meditation at the Theta state is regarded to be the Gateway to eternal bliss!

Achieve Deep Theta Meditation Techniques

We all must start somewhere however so here are a few meditation techniques for beginners and also for those who have tried and failed thus far.

Mirror gazing is one of the most simple meditations you can do. All that is involved is gazing into a mirror at your own image and reflect on how your life is going at the moment. Through these reflections, you will become more at ease. At this time you should ask the universe for whatever it is you want or desire.

Prayer meditation. Believe it or not, most prayer is actually meditation! You don’t have to believe in a god or visit a church to do it either. You just close your eyes and sit peacefully, quietly and at ease giving thanks for the goodness you receive in life. Again, when you are completely at ease, this is the time you send your wishes and desires out into the universe and your subconscious.

Candle meditation is another very common meditation technique. There is just something so very soothing and relaxing about watching a candle flicker around back and forth. You can do it for just a few minutes or even hours. Just focus on the flame and clear your mind of all blockages and disturbances. You will feel a massive change in state after doing so and you will feel completely at peace.

The techniques listed above will certainly help you get into a meditative state and will definitely relax your mind however if you are looking for the real juice of meditation where you pass through the alpha state and well into the theta state then you previously needed years and years of disciplined training to achieve the point of reference required to do so.

Now, using technology that has massively evolved, the astonishing power of brain entrainment using binaural beats mp3 and isochronic tones, allows you to put your brain in exactly the right frequency and state to perform alpha and theta meditation merely by listening to them!

To put it simply, these Meditation Recordings will alter your consciousness, helping you find that peaceful escape you are searching for. They will lower your brain frequencies and put you in the Alpha and Theta states which is essential for Meditation. You will hear peaceful nature sounds and harmonics with True Entrainment Frequencies in the background which will be responsible for your Shift In Consciousness.

If you have always wanted to deeply meditate or have failed time and time again to master this art then please make it easier for yourself and take a closer look at brain entrainment meditation recordings. Enjoy the shift in consciousness you are guaranteed to achieve in just minutes from now!

Like most meditation and deep alpha, theta and delta states, it is all about getting your mind and your brain into the best range of brainwaves to perform these amazing skills and abilities.

Meditation for Anxiety

It is likely that we have all experienced anxiety at some point in our lives. In many instances anxiety is a normal, adaptive, and positive response. For example, anxiety can be a motivating factor to increase our efforts and performance. You feel anxious about an upcoming final exam, you begin to review your notes frequently, and you may even stay up late to study. Your boss asks you to deliver a presentation, you begin to gather as much data as you can and you practice your presentation at home in front of your dog or cat. Therefore having some level of anxiety can serve as a motivating factor to work on our goals and problems. On the other hand, anxiety that is abnormal or problematic is a major symptom, or the cause of other symptoms, and requires proper professional attention.

Anxiety becomes problematic when the level of anxiety is inappropriate and prevents you from doing day to day activities that most people do without effort or much hesitation. A normal level of anxiety in regards to flying an airplane might make your heart rate go up a little, or you become a little sweaty, and begin pacing before boarding the plane. An abnormal level of anxiety would be too high that you fainted when you got on the plane or you completely refused to get on the plane. Anxiety of any level would be considered abnormal if there were no realistic justification for anxiety in that situation. It is realistic to be anxious when you have a spider crawling up your leg, but it is unrealistic to be anxious if you see a spider in a magazine or TV. Anxiety is abnormal if it leads to negative consequences, such as poor performance on the job, relationships, school, etc. Your boss asks you to deliver a presentation but you are anxious about speaking in public and you refuse, you may not get fired, but you may be overlooked next time there is a promotion.

There are four major anxiety states, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Anxiety states usually involved an emotional state that is diffused and not related to any particular situation or stimulus. The generalized anxiety involves general, persistent anxiety that last for at least six months and is associated with a variety of situation or activities, such as work, school, or relationships. The anxiety is present constantly, and there is no escape from it. Imagine the first few minutes before your driving test or a major exam or other activity that made you anxious, and then imagine those feelings lasting months, and not knowing exactly why you feel that way. That is what it feels like to have a generalized anxiety disorder.

A panic disorder is another anxiety state that involves briefs periods of exceptionally intense spontaneous anxiety. During a panic attack an individual may experience one of several physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pains, dizziness, hot and cold flashes, sweating, faintness, trembling and shaking. These periods come and go suddenly, usually lasting about ten minutes, and their occurrence is unpredictable. A panic attack can occur when the person is very relaxed or in deep sleep. Panic attacks can be very frightening; the individual may begin feeling a sense of loss of control and begins to avoid social events or public places to avoid any panic attacks in public and the sense of humiliation it may bring.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety state that involves recurrent obsession or compulsion, or both. An obsession is a persistent idea, thought, image, or impulse that an individual cannot get out of his or her head and that causes and individual distress or anxiety. A person is anxious about becoming infected with germs, so the individual frequently washes his or her hands, minutes at times, or avoid touching things in public places. It is important not to confuse an obsession with worries. Worries are thoughts related to everyday experiences, such as work, family, and money. You know that you have some level of control over these things, so you do not resist them. An obsession can interfere with a person’s thoughts, and it can impair a person’s ability to function effectively. In general an obsession cannot be resisted and it may be very difficult to control.

The last anxiety state is posttraumatic stress disorder. It involves a variety of anxiety related symptoms that starts with a particular traumatic event and then continues for a long time after the event, such as a car crash, earthquake, etc. The individual has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event in which the individual or another person was injured or life was threatened. The individual persistently re-experiences the traumatic event, has disturbing dreams about it, experiences flashbacks, or feels the intense anxiety that was felt during the traumatic event. The person may become detached and chooses not to talk about the event, and may avoid activities that may have led to the traumatic event.

There are various methods and strategies to treat anxiety.

Anxiety that is persistent and that affects normal daily activities should be taken seriously, and professional help should be found as soon as possible. Professional help from certified therapies to treat anxiety usually comes in the form of psychotherapy or cognitive therapy. In psychotherapy, the therapist tries to help the client identify and overcome the cause of anxiety. If the cause can not be identify or overcome, the focus become on helping the individual cope with the symptoms through imagery, meditation, music therapy, or other methods of relaxation.

Cognitive therapy tries to change the person’s beliefs concerning the dangerous situations ( « dogs are dangerous ») or their ability to cope (« I can deal with dogs… even big ones »). Cognitive therapy can be very effective if you can clearly identify the cause of the anxiety. Drugs are sometimes used to correct problems with brain functioning. Drugs can have unpleasant side effects. They provide a treatment and not a cure, and there is the risk of becoming dependent on these drugs.

It is worth emphasizing that some level of anxiety can be a good thing. So next time you feel anxious about an upcoming project at work or school, or there is a major upcoming event, see it as a friendly reminder from your brain that is telling you to prepare and be ready. Some of the most common techniques to relieve stress include deep breathing techniques, imagery, meditation, therapeutic touch, and yoga. Some of us breathe without giving it much thought. Experts say that how we breathe can reduce stress and anxiety, boost our immune system, and help overcome debilitating respiratory diseases. Researchers suspect that relaxation produced by deep breathing techniques may calm parts of the nervous system that directly affects your lungs. Moreover, the increased amount of oxygen available during deep breathing may cause the body to release natural tranquilizing hormones called endorphins.

Imagery or visualization techniques use the conscious mind to create mental images to evoke physical changes in the body, improve perceived well-being, and enhance self-awareness. Imagery can evoke powerful psychological responses. Many doctors and researchers now believe that imagery or visualization techniques can definitely enhance the body’s ability to heal itself, and decrease anxiety states. You are anxious about an important presentation at work or school, or flying makes you anxious. You can decrease the level of anxiety by visualizing the event and seeing yourself calm and relaxed during the event, and in control of the situation.

Practitioners describe meditation as a form of inward concentration that allows you to focus on your senses, step back from thoughts and feelings, and perceive each moment as a unique event. Meditation helps you quiet your mind from anxiety causing events, and helps you get relief from physical and emotional wounds. Meditation can be practiced in many different forms, but the basis of meditation is an appreciation and awareness of nature and of forces outside human control. Many of us get anxious about things we cannot control such as the weather or traffic; we need to accept these things simply as part of our lives.

Best wishes.

Meditation Benefits : Meditation for Beginners

Meditation is one of the most powerful ‘self help’ tools available today and is available to anyone. All meditation asks for is time and an open mind and in return you will benefit in so many different ways. It is incredibly straightforward and perhaps that’s where a lot of doubt comes from – is this all it really is? Meditation is simply turning our awareness inside and being present in the moment. We need to practice regularly in order to feel any real benefits and it can be used for so various things from relaxation to opening up our hearts and to finding the truth within.

People come to meditation for a number of reasons – they feel let down by life, they want peace of mind, they feel overwhelmed by life etc. Stress, anxiety, depression, isolation, alienation are all reasons people turn to meditation and thankfully, with regular practice, meditation can actually help.

The key to meditation is directing the awareness inside and this can be done in four different ways through concentration, receptive awareness, contemplation and cultivation.

We can increase our awareness through concentration usually on an object, mantra or symbol and this helps us loose our sense of self where our focus is on the object entirely. We could practice receptive awareness which requires us to expand our awareness and look beyond the world of appearances and question what life is all about. Contemplation helps us utilize what we have learned from concentration and receptive awareness by exploring how our mind works and how we have become the person we are and how we can change. Lastly we can cultivate an open loving heart and learn compassion, gratitude and appreciation and this can help us become the person we wish to be. A happier, more joyful and compassionate being.

When we come to meditation we should make it as individual as possible to ensure we feel motivated to practice regularly. We should not feel pressurized to sit a certain way because we have been informed this is how it is supposed to be done, but sit in a way that is comfortable for you. I even meditate in bed at night – lying down.

Furthermore if you find a practice that works for you then stick to it. I love using breath awareness as it helps me relax and focus my awareness and quickly calms my mind. I meditate in the evening after the kids have gone to bed – which has now become a habit and I always do it in the privacy of my bedroom too, where I feel more relaxed and ‘away’ from the noise of the rest of the house. Getting into a routine is crucial for making the practice a regular thing in your life and to take advantage of the benefits of meditation.

Also incorporate mindfulness into your daily life and use it when doing the ‘boring’ tasks of the day – it’s surprising how less tedious the chore becomes and how more happier you become doing it! Mindfulness is simply living in the ‘here and now’ and experiencing what is going on now – from the sensations in your body, to what you see, hear, smell and feel. When you wash the dishes – be there in the moment – how does the water feel on your hands, how are you standing, what sounds do you hear? How often have you eaten lunch and not actually ‘tasted’ what you have eaten?

Mindfulness is another form of meditation and it involves living in the here and now – bringing our awareness into the moment in order for us to enjoy our ordinary everyday life. Too many of us live our lives either in the past or in the future. Living in the past means we miss out on so much in our lives at this moment in time. We miss out on our children, our happiness, taking enjoyment from the simple things in life like nature and the changing of the seasons. By living in the past and reliving old hurts or holding on to anger and frustration we constantly feel those emotions in the here and now and miss out on so many positive and wonderful experiences in life.

Others live in the future, planning and wishing for their life to be bigger and better than it is now – without ever benefiting from the joy of living in the moment. Children are shunned as mummy spends her days imagining how life will be if only she won the lottery or had a bigger house. How many of us have looked back on our lives and realized just how much we have missed out on because we chose to live in the future? So many people I know comment on how they never really spent the quality time with their children when they were younger and how much they regret it now. We cannot get that time back – it is so precious – so live life now and enjoy those wonderful moments with the children, with your partner because that is what life is. Furthermore living in the future creates a wealth of anxiety too, looking at the if’s and but’s and omitting again to look at what you already have.

The simple practice of mindfulness helps us to become more aware of the moment and cultivates our awareness and concentration. Using mindfulness on a daily basis has many beneficial effects which I personally have noticed and you will too after a relatively short time – and they are being more calmer; being more aware and appreciative of our surroundings which brings more enjoyment and happiness into my life too; being less judgmental; being more aware of people’s needs and hence making us better friends/mothers/partners etc.

Whatever your motives are to come to meditation – ensure you make the practice your own and you will get the most out of it. If new to it – maybe visit a teacher or as I did- buy a few books and give it a try. What have you got to lose? We all need a way to relax and meditation is a wonderful relaxation tool with extra benefits too!

There are many more benefits of mindfulness and meditation too, if practiced on a regular basis, many of which I have benefited from.

  • Meditation Benefits

There are many other benefits from regular meditation practice. The various physiological benefits are :

1         Decreased heart rate

2         Lower blood pressure

3         Reduced cholesterol levels

4         Muscle relaxation

5         Deeper slower breathing

6         Reduction in the intensity of pain

7         Increase in alpha rhythms – brain waves that correlate with relaxation and            increased awareness

8         Stronger focus and concentration

 

Not to mention the psychological benefits of meditation which are:

1         Less emotional reactivity – fewer mood swings and intense negative                        emotions

2         More happiness and peace of mind

3         Enhanced creativity and self actualization

4         Reduction in anxiety/stress/tension

5         Heightened perceptual clarity and sensitivity

6         Feeling of relaxation and calmness – being in control

7         Awareness of the present moment

8         A feeling of being more balanced, centered, grounded

9         To connect more deeply with yourself and others

10       Relaxing the body and calming the mind

If we consider all of the above it is a wonder that more people don’t meditate. Perhaps people still view meditation as something ‘alternative’ or ‘spiritual’ as opposed to a wonderful way to live life. Even simply used for a method of relaxation – the benefits of meditation are phenomenal.

Not only does meditation offer such a wide range of physiological, psychological and emotional benefits but it can also help us to overcome many obstacles and negativity in our lives which are holding us back or keeping us in a negative frame of mind instead of opening up our hearts and enjoying life fully. There are many things that meditation can help us overcome, some with specific meditations and others with just the regular meditation practice.

What Is Meditation? : Meditation for Beginners

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is a simple, but life-transforming skill that can help you to relax, enhance understanding about yourself and develop your inherent potential. If that sounds a little vague, it’s because there are many types of meditation done for different purposes.

Concentration meditation

A concentrative meditation technique involves focusing on a single point. This could entail watching the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong or counting beads on a rosary. Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation technique encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises. Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns.

Other meditation techniques

There are various other meditation techniques. For example, a daily meditation practice among Buddhist monks focuses directly on the cultivation of compassion. This involves envisioning negative events and recasting them in a positive light by transforming them through compassion. There are also moving meditations techniques, such as tai chi, chi Kung and walking meditation.

What Are Mantras?

Another term that comes up a lot when talking about meditation is mantra. What is a mantra? Simply put, a mantra is a word or sound that you repeat throughout a meditation to help focus the mind. « Mantra » comes from Sanskrit: man is the root of the word for « mind, » and tra is the root of the word for « instrument. » Mantras help us disconnect from that stream of thoughts constantly flowing (sometimes rushing) through our minds. Keep in mind, not all forms of meditation use mantras.

How to Meditate?

Newcomers to meditation often feel intimidated. They imagine a monk sitting in lotus pose for hours on end atop a mountain. But the reality is that meditation is much easier and accessible than most people realize.

Here is a simple 10 step beginner’s guide to meditation:

  1. Sit tall

The most common and accessible position for meditation is sitting. Sit on the floor, in a chair or on a stool. If you are seated on the floor it is often most comfortable to sit cross-legged on a cushion. Comfort is key. Now imagine a thread extending from the top of your head, pulling your back, neck and head straight up towards the ceiling in a straight line. Sit tall.

  1. Relax your body

Close your eyes and scan your body, relaxing each body part one at a time. Begin with your toes, feet, ankles, shins and continue to move up your entire body. Don’t forget to relax your shoulders, neck, eyes, face, jaw and tongue which are all common areas for us to hold tension.

  1. Be still and silent

Now that you are sitting tall and relaxed, take a moment to be still. Just sit. Be aware of your surroundings, your body, the sounds around you. Don’t react or attempt to change anything. Just be aware.

  1. Breathe

Turn your attention to your breath. Breathe silently, yet deeply. Engage your diaphragm and fill your lungs, but do not force your breath. Notice how your breath feels in your nose, throat, chest and belly as it flows in and out.

  1. Establish a mantra

Mantras can have spiritual, vibrational and transformative benefits, or they can simply provide a point of focus during meditation. They can be spoken aloud or silently to yourself. A simple and easy mantra for beginners is to silently say with each breath, I am breathing in, I am breathing out.

  1. Calm your mind

As you focus on your breath or mantra, your mind will begin to calm and become present. This does not mean that thoughts will cease to arise. As thoughts come to you, simply acknowledge them, set them aside, and return your attention to your breath or mantra. Don’t dwell on your thoughts. Some days your mind will be busy and filled with inner chatter, other days it will remain calm and focused. Neither is good, nor bad.

  1. When to end your practice

There is no correct length of time to practice meditation, however when first beginning it is often easier to sit for shorter periods of time (5 to 10 minutes). As you become more comfortable with your practice, meditate longer. Set an alarm if you prefer to sit for a predetermined length of time. Another option is to decide on the number of breaths you will count before ending your practice. A mala (garland) is a helpful tool to use when counting breaths.

  1. How to end your practice

When you are ready to end your practice, slowly bring your conscious attention back to your surroundings. Acknowledge your presence in the space around you. Gently wiggle your fingers and toes. Begin to move your hands, feet, arms and legs. Open your eyes. Move slowly and take your time getting up.

  1. Practice often

Consistency is more important than quantity. Meditating for 5 minutes every day will reward you with far greater benefits than meditating for two hours, one day a week.

  1. Practice everywhere

Most beginners find it easier to meditate in a quiet space at home, but as you become more comfortable, begin exploring new places to practice. Meditating outdoors in nature can be very peaceful, and taking the opportunity to meditate on the bus or in your office chair can be an excellent stress reliever.

Meditation is a simple, effective and convenient way to calm your busy mind, relax your body, become grounded and find inner peace amidst the chaos of day-to-day life. Begin meditating today and reap the rewards.

Benefits of meditation

Studies on the relaxation response have documented the following short-term benefits to the nervous system:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Lower heart rate
  • Less perspiration
  • Slower respiratory rate
  • Less anxiety
  • Lower blood cortisol levels
  • More feelings of well-being
  • Less stress
  • Deeper relaxation

Thus, after having read all the benefits of meditation along with a guide to meditate too, I don’t think there should be anything keeping you from practicing it from this moment onwards!

Happy meditating…

Meditation for Beginners :

The subject of meditation for beginners is a difficult one to say the least. I used to think meditation was something only religious or deeply spiritual people practised, and to be honest I thought it was a pretty pointless exercise. What benefit could sitting quietly with your eyes shut for an hour possibly offer me? Surely my time could be better spent doing, well… pretty much anything else!

However, over the years I kept hearing about the benefits of meditation from different sources, benefits like, increased happiness, achieving inner peace, inducing greater creativity and improved concentration. I also heard about the health benefits which range from, having a positive effect on heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and metabolism to resolving psychological problems.

However, I also had lots of questions and fears about attempting to meditate, which delayed me jumping in and giving it a shot. Questions like, what type of meditation is the right one? How exactly does someone meditate? How would I know if I was doing it right? How long should you meditate? Which is the correct way to meditate, in silence or with music? Where do I find the meditation for beginners handbook? You see, there weren’t that many Zen Monks around me to ask about the finer details, so I just kept putting it on the back burner and telling myself I would get round to it ‘someday’.

Fortunately I did take that leap, and I’m glad I did, so, I thought I would answer a few questions I had about meditation before I decided to start meditating, so this article is aimed mainly at people who are beginners, or are yet to take that leap into the stimulating world of meditation.

What type of meditation is the right one?

There are many different types of meditation; too many to list here, and this is where a lot of the confusion stems, so don’t get too hung up on which type of meditation you should be doing. The good thing about having so many different types of meditation is that there is a type out there for you, so it’s just a matter of finding which one suits you best.

When I started to meditate I began with guided meditations set to tranquil background music, it made me feel more confident about how I was meditating because as the name suggests, guided meditation basically talks you through the whole process.

Guided meditation, unlike traditional (unguided) meditation, requires less effort on your part as you don’t have to worry about keeping your mind focused and as clear as possible. Traditional meditation is fantastic in its own right, and once you’ve achieved the basics is something which can later be strived for.

What I love about guided meditation is the opportunity it offers to visualise effortlessly, and engage the imagination with positive suggestions tailored to the subject of your choice. This is certainly a good option if you’re new to meditation or not quite sure how to start out.

How exactly does someone meditate?

Again this depends on which type of meditation you are practicing, traditional meditation, unlike the guided meditation above, calls for the subject (you) to sit in a comfortable upright position with your eyes closed.

The goal is to clear your mind of all thoughts and be witness to any experience you may have. To clear the mind it is often suggested that you take a few deep breaths at the beginning of your meditation, and then breathe normally concentrating on each breaths inhale, and exhale.

This initially clears the concentrated mind of all but the thought of breathing, if other thoughts occur, which they will, the key is not to reflect upon those thoughts. You become a bystander of thought as you experience them, but do not get involved in reflecting upon those thoughts and what they might mean.

Don’t be miffed if nothing happens during your meditation, after all, that is exactly the point! Benefits from meditation don’t occur during meditation; they occur, and can be witnessed through measured transformation in daily life, over the course of time.

How long should you meditate for?

As mentioned before this depends on which type of meditation you are involved with. Guided meditations are pre set, and last for the amount of time the audio lasts. With more traditional types of meditation you are the one who decides the length for which you meditate. If it feels right, it’s right.

If you’re new to meditation, start with a length of time you’re comfortable with, even if it’s only 5 minutes. You can build up minute by minute until such a time you can achieve half an hour, then an hour. I do need to stress there are no hard and fast rules about meditating; if it feels comfortable for you, then that is the right length.

Which is the correct way to meditate, in silence or with music?

There is NO correct way to meditate, if it feels good and you’re getting results from it, it’s correct. I like to meditate in silence and also with music; it really depends on how I’m feeling at the time. Like I said before, meditation for beginners is a mine field of questions, doubts and misunderstandings. It really doesn’t have to be, there are plenty of options and variants out there, including, binaural beat meditation and paraliminal meditation audios.

Binaural beats meditation

Binaural beats meditation uses the effect from different frequencies introduced into opposing ears, and therefore stereo headphones must be worn to achieve this. If a tone at 176Hz is played into one ear, and a tone of 171.5Hz is played into the other ear, the brain hears the difference between the two tones, (4.5Hz – called an auditory artefact) as a beat, which sounds more like a pulse.

This auditory artefact is then mimicked by the brain to induce a specified range of brain waves which occur naturally:

When in a relaxed or drowsy state (alpha waves)

Or asleep and experiencing REM dreams (theta waves)

In a deep dreamless state (delta waves)

all while still awake but in a meditative state.

These are the brain waves meditators are trying to achieve using the traditional meditation method, so for beginners binaural beat meditation offers the chance to experience a deep trance like state without the previous experience. There is a free to download binaural beats meditation app at zenpro.UK should you want a taste of this highly effective type of meditation. This is a great type of meditation for beginners to start with, as it quells any fears about whether you are « doing it right ». You simply sit, close your eyes and listen.

Paraliminal meditation

I also use paraliminal meditation audios, which are very similar to guided meditations, but they use each ear for differing messages throughout the audio, so again stereo headphones must be used.

Paraliminal meditation audio’s are theme based on one subject related to personal development. They offer guidance with things like becoming more confident, weight loss, stopping smoking, public speaking or any other road block you may be experiencing in life.

They work by offering different hemispheres of the brain different messages, sometimes at the same time through different ears. The messages aren’t something you need to keep track of, as listening to two voices, one in each ear, would be pretty difficult, you are free to just let the audio play and do its thing.

Paraliminal meditation is another great type of meditation for beginners to get a taste for meditation in a fairly passive manner, without worrying about whether you are doing everything correctly.

Fantastic personal development tool

In my opinion meditation is a fantastic personal development tool which everyone should utilise, if they so wish. Don’t be afraid to jump in with both feet, every Zen Master had to start at the beginning, just like you!

If you’ve been thinking about meditating but didn’t know where to start, or wanted to know how to meditate as a beginner then I hope this article has inspired you, and quelled any fears you may have had. I know I wish I had started sooner…

Happy meditating…