Meditation is the term given to the practice of quieting your mind as part of a spiritual practice. Meditation can include a huge variety of techniques depending on what religion or spiritual path is followed, however meditation is not solely tied to one religion alone. This article will teach you the most basic way to meditate, as well as some more advanced meditation techniques.
Everybody will have meditated at some point in their lives, even if it were subconsciously. This is the most common and simplest way to meditate. There are three main steps to this type of meditation:
- Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed
- Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes
- Observe your thoughts
It is important to start meditating in a quiet place, as any distractions will quickly disturb your meditation practice. If you are meditating at home then find a secluded spot away from children and animals. Switch off your phone and any other electrical devices. It can also be beneficial to meditate in nature; if you know of a nice spot in a forest or by a lake then this can actually enhance the meditation process. You will want to be comfortable during your meditation practice. Buddhist monks will often sit cross legged in the lotus position, but this is not necessary and it can be uncomfortable if you are inflexible or you don’t practice yoga. Instead, you can sit with your back straight on a pillow or cushion, and place your hands gently on your knees. Meditation can also be done whilst sitting on a chair, or lying down. Now you are ready to start meditating. In order to make it easier for yourself, you can start with several deep breaths and try and relax your body fully to let go of any tension you may be holding. Close your eyes, and breath through your nose. Now start by observing your thoughts. Many people think that when you first start meditating you should try not to think of anything, but by doing this you will actually be making it harder for yourself as you are thinking in the first place. Just simply watch your thoughts pass by like clouds in the sky. This will help you to detach from them as you realise your are not your thoughts – you are actually an observer. As thoughts come and go do not judge them, or become irritated that they are popping up in your mind, just let them float by. After several meditation sessions you will find that these thoughts become less frequent, and you will be able to enjoy small periods of silence. The more you practice the clearer your mind will become. The amount of time you meditate depends on your personal preferences and schedule. A good amount of time to start is for 10 minutes a day, but if you find this too difficult then you can start with 5 minutes daily. You can then increase this as you start to feel more comfortable meditating for longer periods of time.
Other Types of Meditation
There are a number of more complex forms of meditation, including:
- Visual meditation
- Audio meditation
- Walking meditation
- Mantra meditation
- Mala meditation
Visual meditation involves meditating whilst looking at something. Most commonly this is a mandala which is a piece of artwork that has spiritual significance within some of the ancient Eastern religions. You can also look at a candle flame, or a flower. Audio meditations involve listening to someone who is guiding you through a meditation exercise. Guided meditations are particularly beneficial for people who have trouble quieting their mind in the basic meditation exercise. Walking meditations follow the same process as the basic mediation, but instead of sitting with your eyes closed you walk with them open. Walking meditation is best done somewhere quiet in nature, and barefoot if possible. Beaded necklace meditations involve the use of a necklace which is known as a Mala. Malas traditionally have 108 beads on them. They are used in mantra meditation, whereby a specific phrase is mentally or verbally repeated, and as it is repeated a bead is moved across the necklace. This practice is repeated until all 108 beads have been moved around the necklace. If the mantra meditation process is interrupted by a thought or any other distraction then you can go back to the beginning and start the process all over again.