When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a candle in a windless place. Bhagavad Gita
Although meditation is increasing in popularity, it is still widely misunderstood. The substantial benefits of practicing meditation can often become obscured by confusing or unclear instructions. The reality is that mediation is perhaps the purest and most simple habit that you can develop. A regular meditation practice can be developed with three simple steps.
Step 1: Find a suitable place to meditate
Although it is possible to meditate in any situation, this can be tough for a beginner. When you’re just getting started it’s best to ensure you’re in an environment that provides you with no distractions. Begin by ensuring that you won’t be distracted by noise. Try to find a room that is very quiet or, failing that, grab yourself some ear plugs. A further alternative is to plug in some headphones and listen to some peaceful music — something like a track of nature sounds. Music produced specifically for meditation is also widely available. I have enjoyed Steven Halpern who is a GRAMMY® nominated, award-winning composer, recording artist and producer whose healing music has helped millions worldwide to experience the blessings and benefits of deep relaxation and inner peace.
Once you’ve found an appropriate room, make sure that you will not be disturbed. Leave a note on the door and let people know what you’re doing. Once you’ve done that, your location is good to go.
Step 2: Sit comfortably
One common reason that people are put off by meditation is the idea of having to sit cross-legged — it can look incredibly uncomfortable. The reality is that you don’t actually have to do that at all. You simply need to sit upright, ensuring that you won’t fall asleep during the meditation. You can sit on a chair, on the floor with your back against a wall or without any support if you find that comfortable. Comfort is important for a beginner — you don’t want your discomfort to create a distraction. Over time you may decide to try to sit cross-legged and slowly overcome the discomfort. You may also sit on a yoga block which will alleviate discomfort. This is best tried once you’re a little familiar with the actual meditation practice. Focus on comfort to begin with.
Step 3: Focus on the breath
The basic aim of meditation is to develop an increased awareness of the nature of your mind and then use that awareness to control your mind more effectively. From moment-to-moment our minds can be a jumble of thoughts, emotions and desires. By meditating you can develop the ability to identify empty spaces in this jumble, providing your mind with some respite. With time you can increase these spaces and replace the jumble with a clear, structured and peaceful mind. In order to develop an increased awareness of the spaces between your thoughts you need simply to focus on your breathing.
After sitting comfortably in your appropriate location begin by focusing on the first inhalation. Notice any associated sensations, such as the feeling of the air on the inside of your nose and down into your lungs. Focus similarly on your first exhalation, noticing the same sensations in reverse. Continue to focus on each inhalation and exhalation, drawing your mind back to your breath whenever it wanders. This focus on your breath allows your mind to slow down, making it easier to identify the gaps between your thoughts. Any wandering of the mind isn’t a failure — it’s just the simple reality of how your mind works. Maintain an awareness of the gaps between your thoughts whilst also maintaining a focus on your breath. Use the breath as a method to still your mind when it wanders. Repeat for 15-20 minutes.
Consistent daily practice
Over time, with sustained practice, you will notice that you become more adept at increasing the gaps between your thoughts. The need to focus on the breath lessens as you become able to control your thoughts from moment-to-moment.
The lessons of meditation become transferable, allowing your mind to become more peaceful throughout day-to-day life. Daily practice is the best way to achieve this outcome. Consistently apply the three steps above and you’ll start to experience the incredible power of meditation.
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INHALE EXHALE SMILE® / LIFESTYLE MEDICINE
This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical issue or disease. The author does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of this article and will not be held responsible for the content of this article. The information in this article is not intended to replace a personal relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your personal health care provider for specific medical advice.