How to Meditate

People who meditate tend to have lower stress levels, less anxiety, healthier blood pressure and more happiness than people who do not meditate. Meditators tend to have a stronger ability to focus and concentrate. As little as 15 minutes per day can be beneficial.

In meditation, we silence the mind. We let go of the silly, often frantic chatter that occupies our minds on most days. In doing so, we experience peace. We experience our eternal self. Our eternal self is so much more, so much greater than the petty worries of day-to-day living. When we know this, we are more able to detach from the trivial concerns, as we realize they are meaningless.

Though some religions specifically encourage meditation, it can be practiced regardless of your religion, or if you have no religious beliefs at all. It is simply quieting the mind, sitting still, at peace and at rest.

I recommend starting out at 10 or 15 minutes at first. As you learn to be comfortable with it, you can increase the time. I like to meditate for 45 minutes in the morning before I begin my day. It gives me a fresh start and I don’t have to try to carve out time later in the day. (Though I sometimes take another 15 minutes in the middle of the day if things have gotten hectic and stressful.)

Preparing to Meditate

Starting our clean with a fresh shower can be helpful, but not necessary.
Candles and incense are not necessary, but use them if you wish.
Avoid heavy meals before hand (you can drink a glass of juice or eat something small if hunger will distract you from meditating).
You can put on meditation music (no tunes to hum along with or voices) or use a “white noise” machine if you wish to blockout other distracting noises. This link gives a good example of meditation music.
Meditation Process

Sit in a quiet place where you can be free from interruption. You can sit cross-legged on the floor or sit upright in a chair. Do not lie down to meditate, as you will probably just go to sleep. Sit up with a straight back.

Holding your attention on one thing only will help you begin to quiet the mind. Here are some techniques people use successfully:

Gazing at a candle flame (or a small dot or another object)
Counting your breaths (you can do this with eyes closed)
Repeating a mantra (such as OM – (you can do this with eyes closed)
I personally pay attention to my breathing. I notice when I breathe in and when I breathe out. I breathe deeply when I am noticing this.

Do not fight the thoughts as they come up. Think of them as clouds moving across the sky of the mind. Like clouds, they drift and change all of the time. Like clouds, they don’t have any real substance. You can notice them drifting by, but don’t hang on to any particular thought. It is just a thought. It is not important. It is not you.

If you catch yourself thinking and following a train of thought, just return to your point of attention. (I return to noticing my breathing.)

As you provide no resistance and no attachment to your thoughts, they will become fewer. You will begin to get little glimpses of “silence.” You will notice a peaceful feeling and/or a feeling of joy starting to emerge.

Start out doing this for 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Gradually increase the time until you reach 30 minutes or up to an hour. As I said earlier, 45 minutes seems to work for me. Some people meditate for 30 minutes twice a day. Others meditate for 90 minutes once per day. There are meditation retreats where people meditate most of their waking hours.

Copyright © 2009 by Victoria Young