All You Really Need To Start Meditate, Today
Despite what you may have heard or read somewhere else, to meditate, there are just four key elements that you need to getting started.
First, you need to have a passive attitude. This attitude lets you have a good meditation experience because you aren’t struggling with trying to control your thoughts.
Attitude isn’t everything, though. The next element that you need is the right location.
Also, you need the right posture.
Finally, you need something to meditate on or about. It’s called your point of focus.
Now, we’ll go into a little detail about each.
1. Passive Attitude
The first key ingredient in meditation is your attitude. Your attitude is the most important element when first you begin meditating. You might call it a sense of relaxed awareness. You are relaxed but alert. Ideally, there is a perfect balance between the two.
When you enter into this type of awareness, you’re casually aware of what is happening around you, and yet you are detached from it. An example of this is when you are absorbed in reading an excellent book, and suddenly you notice the faucet is dripping. Your mind was aware of the dripping faucet the whole time you were reading but was focused on the book.
Even as you focus on your meditation object, your mind will notice what is happening around you. Ideally, while meditating; when new thoughts enter your mind, you just let them pass through. You’ll still be aware of them, but give them no importance.
When your mind wanders off, it’s time to gently come back to your point of focus.
With a little experience, you can quickly recognize that your mind is off track and gently bring it back to your meditation.
At first, you may struggle a bit to stay in “relaxed awareness,” but over time, you’ll find yourself being able to stay focused for more extended periods.
That is when you start getting great results!
By the way, stray thoughts will still pop up even after 20 years of meditation.
Using the example of running, even when you’ve been running for 20 years, you will still get tired. It’s all part of the process.
2. Time and Place
Now you need to find the right location to meditate.
If you want to get the best results from your meditation, being in the correct surroundings will make all the difference in the world. As you can probably guess, you’ll want a location that is quiet and calm, with as few distractions as possible.
In a perfect world, you would have a separate room for meditation that is dimly lit and lets in no outside noise. You might have a beautiful meditation cushion and incense burning and the atmosphere of a Buddhist temple.
None of this is necessary. And that’s a good thing because you probably don’t have that perfect room. I sure don’t.
You won’t get the most benefit from your meditation practice if you are in a brightly lit room that has lots of noise, phones ringing, people talking and activity going on to distract you from your meditation.
Most of us have to find our middle ground.
If you can find just a corner of a room that is a little quieter than the rest of the house, this will work fine. Maybe you have some extra space in your garage. Some people do their meditation in their favorite recliner, in the living room with the lights low and the telephone off.
If you have a family, you may have to practice meditation a little earlier in the morning or later in the evening. Or you may want to load audio meditations onto an MP3 player or mobile device and take it outside to listen. And that will work too.
When you start looking for the perfect place and time to practice, I can guarantee that you won’t find it.
The whole focus of this article is to help you take action. If you wait to find the perfect place and perfect circumstances, you will never take action.
Start where you are with what you have.
As you develop your skills, you’ll be able to meditate in busier places, including public locations where you can’t control the distraction and noise levels.
3. The Right Posture
Just like the right location, being in the right position for meditation is essential. What you are looking for here is the proper posture for YOUR body. No, you don’t have to sit in a full lotus. I don’t do that! INSERT IMAGE
The crucial element in maintaining your posture is to keep your spine straight. When the spine is correctly aligned, it helps your mind stay focused. INSERT IMAGE
Most people will have some discomfort during or after their first few meditation sessions because of a history of poor posture. It will go away after several sessions.
Some instructors recommend meditation in a lying down position. Although this position does keep your spine straight and promotes relaxation, it often causes new meditators to fall asleep. So, I DO NOT recommend it.
Another common practice is to meditate in a recliner. The recliner puts you in a relaxing position and keeps your spine straight. It’s one of my favorite ways to meditate. When I do meditate in my recliner, I don’t recline all the way back because I have the habit of falling asleep pretty quickly. So, now I only recline halfway. INSERT IMAGE
If you have any problems with your spine, don’t give up. Experiment until you find a good posture that works for you. It can even be sitting up in bed with your back supported by pillows.
4. Your Meditation Object
There is one more piece of the puzzle to your meditation practice. You need to have a meditation object to help direct and focus your attention.
You begin your meditation by focusing on your object of meditation.
Then, you’ll get distracted.
When you become aware that you’re distracted, you gently bring your focus back to your object of meditation. The cycle continues until your meditation session is over. INSET IMAGE
A common myth is that you must clear your mind of ALL thoughts during meditation. What you want to do is train your mind to focus on only ONE single object.
As you practice meditation, your mind enters into a state where very few thoughts and indeed no thoughts of any real importance are passing through it.
Many Eastern meditation masters call an untrained mind your Monkey Mind because the untrained mind wanders around and around continually chattering away like a monkey. It takes a little time to train a monkey, and it will take a little time to train your Monkey Mind.
Meditation is one of the most essential skills for cancer patients to develop.
Many beginners make the mistake of trying a particular meditation, and after only one try deciding it doesn’t work for them.
Stay with the meditation precisely as is for at least a couple days, even if at first, you’re uncomfortable with it.
It’s no big deal if it takes 5 or 6 days, or more, to get comfortable with it.
Remember what it was like learning to ride a bicycle?
You had to be able to put everything together without thinking about watching the road, pedaling fast enough, keeping your balance and steering all at the same time. It was tough the first couple of times, but, then one day, it all just clicked.
Meditation works the same way.
Important: While you’re still learning, you don’t want to make the common mistake of trying to think about too many things at one time. In the instructions below, you’ll be given something to focus on while doing your meditation
Before Each Session
Take a few seconds to mentally and physically slow down.
Be sure to take off your shoes and loosen your belt or any other tight clothing.
If needed, let your friends or family know that you will be unavailable for the next 10 minutes or so.
Get a drink of water and go to the bathroom if needed.
During Each Session
Get comfortable. Then take 2 or 3 slow deep breaths. Exhale slowly, feeling yourself start to relax.
Close your eyes.
Try to focus your mind only on the point of focus for meditations that follow. Random thoughts will come into your mind. Don’t fight them. Just let them go and gently bring your mind back to your point of focus.
You’re not trying to fight or stop your random thoughts, but just gently guiding your mind back to the point of focus.
Is it easy to do?
Remember that you’re learning to train your mind and training takes some daily time and effort.
And let me assure you that in just a few sessions, letting go of your random thoughts will become more relaxed and more comfortable.
After Each Session
After you finish your meditation, keep your eyes closed and take 2 or 3 slow deep breaths.
Take just a moment to feel how relaxed your body and mind are. Then slowly open your eyes and stand up. Stretch out a little bit and affirm that you have done well.
2 Minute Breath Counting Meditation
In this meditation, your point of focus is counting your breaths.
Once you’re sitting comfortably straight and have eliminated as many distractions as you can, begin to focus your attention on your breath.
Don’t try to change your breathing; let your breath come and go at its rhythm. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to breathe.
Inhale and then exhale and at the end of your out-breath, mentally count, “One.”
Inhale, pause, exhale, and this time, at the end of your out-breath, mentally count, “Two.”
Keep counting like this until you get to “Ten.”
When you reach ten, start again by counting the next cycle as “One.”
And over. And over.
It works like a game, and there is one rule:
If you, even briefly, forget the number you’re on, then you have to start all over again at “One.”
It may take days to go all the way up to “Ten” without making any mistakes.
You will know that you’re making progress when it becomes easier and more comfortable to reach “Ten,” and then start again.
Many Buddhist masters use this simple meditation for decades, and it still works.
Tip: Watching the clock is a major distraction from your meditation. So, you may want to set a countdown timer on your mobile device to 2 minutes. Just make sure it’s a pleasant tone and volume that brings your focus back to the “Real World.” Loud sudden sounds can ruin the relaxed state you’re in.
A Few Practical Principles To Apply To Meditation
Principle 1 Relax
Meditation isn’t about effort. It’s just the opposite. So relax! The more you try to push it, the tenser you get. It’s not a contest, and you don’t have to perfect it today. If you start feeling yourself getting a little tense, it’s time to slow down and take a few deep, slow breaths.
Principle 2 Regularity
You can’t do aerobics twice a month for 4 hours and stay in shape, you can’t infrequently meditate, even with 2-hour sessions, and expect results. You will get results by practicing regularly. Daily is best; even it’s only for a few minutes. When you first start, it’s not so much the length of your meditation sessions that’s important, but that you practice every day.
Principle 3 Take It With You
If you think about the many of benefits of meditation, you will discover that you experience only a few of them during meditation. Most of the benefits accumulate and show themselves in your life while you are not actively meditating. Remember to take the sense of calm and peacefulness with you into your daily life.
Having Any Challenges With Breath Counting?
Some people will find the breath counting meditation just a bit too challenging, at first.
Click on the button below to download a 2-minute audio meditation.
Load it onto your mobile device, and you’re ready.
Here are your new instructions:
In this meditation, your point of focus is listening to sounds of the meditation audio.
Sit down, relax, and listen to the 2-minute audio meditation.
Don’t try to meditate.
Just close your eyes and listen to the sounds of the music.
When you notice your mind wandering off, and it will gently bring your attention back to the sound of the audio.
Keep going until the audio stops.
Now you have everything you need to know to get started with two different simple meditations.
Get started today!