Everybody’s doing it. But, I have no idea what to do. I try, but I I just can’t do it! Meditation may seem difficult at first. But, after some time its as natural as sitting under a tree
So, You want to start meditating?
There is a lot of skepticism, myth and misinformation about meditation, since it has become a mental health trend, and most doctors that are prescribing it don’t do it or know how to. Most new meditators are unfamiliar with being by themselves without distractions or find it really strange to sit still and be with silence and do nothing.
In fact, most first time meditators don’t experience stillness or silence. They sit down and every thought they have ever had comes forth, exploding in their head like a chilli con carne on steroids. We have also been taught that doing nothing is time wasting, that being still is useless and for those weird esoteric freaks in orange robes in far away lands or for hippies.
In Fact, The most successful people over time have been meditators and people have been meditating for over 5000 years. And, meditation has been keeping people happy and ‘sane’ for eons. All of these people have experienced this same resistance as they have begun. Including those freaky monks.
Let what ever happens be ok
The most common contentions I hear are “I just can’t do it” and “My mind is just too active’. For starters meditation’s purpose is to still the mind and allow for a mind to be not too active. And, for beginner’s, like riding a bicycle, it takes practice and time. You may have to get on the ‘mat’ a few times for the wheels of the mind to be brought into balance, so you can ride them, to Nirvana.
Here is the problem. Most people see Nirvana as a goal so distant and unreachable, even so completely distant to not be desirable. But, in the early stages of meditation the goal is simple, it is simply to ‘stop’, to be still, to be aware. To master the mind and the body. To relax.
And, let what ever happen be ok. The mind will be still churning, busy, thinking. It will take time for the chatter to unwind, to find a flow. Our whole existence is experienced through our minds. In order to understand meditation, you need to do meditation. In order to calm your mind, you need to begin by sitting with its untamed quality.
We all have different dispositions, personalities, likes and dislikes. We respond to different things. This is why, in the Vijnanabhairava Tantra texts (for example), there are 108 different techniques advised. And in the Gita, there are different paths to awakening and finding happiness.
Not everyone is going to respond to the same method and the same method may not be beneficial at certain stages of our development.
A child starts off with the alphabet, then reads small sentences before she can read a book. She practices, learns and then discovers the books that she likes to read before she can truly experience the benefits of books. It’s the same with meditation. Many people, many techniques.
My first technique came very naturally. I visualised a white spot above my head and imagined all my thoughts moving into that white spot. Then would bring the spot/light into my heart area and I would go into instant peace and stillness. Yet, at some time, I went onto learn other techniques. Some of them more difficult for me, but with time I was able to master them and my mind.
Beginners Meditation – 5 Easy Tips
So here are my 5 easy beginners meditation tips to start you on your practice. I recommend to try them for at least 21 days before giving up. If it really is too difficult then perhaps it’s not the one for you.
Sitting still for 5 minutes. This is a basic exercise in stillness. It effortless and very easy for beginners, It’s from the Tao Tradition. It takes commitment though and may feel a bit too easy or in some cases pointless. That’s the point. Start with just five minutes a day for a week and allow your thoughts to come and go- it”s ok remember. You are training your body and mind to be aware, to go a bit slower, to relax. After a week increase your time by another 5 minutes and do that for a couple of weeks and then go to 15 minutes.. Within two or so months you will have begun to relax a little and will notice the mind is not so active, you are meditating, hooray!
Guided meditation. Some people respond better to a guided meditation when they begin a practice. remember there is no wrong or right at this stage. .Guided meditations will help you to focus the mind through visualisation or through sound technology. Stick to one basic 5 or ten minute one, so you get used to it, for a month or so. As you begin to relax the mind you will intuitively know when to go longer or move to a more advanced meditation. Let it be a natural process. Don’t push.
Zazen. Zen meditation, has its origins in Buddhism. It is a simple and concise practice. Zazen means, “seated Zen” or “seated meditation”, where the idea is to simply just sit and observe without any thoughts, judgments or discrimination. To be aware of thoughts maintain an upright body posture and your chin tucked slightly in to keep their eyes open in a downcast gaze.
Mantra meditation is a meditation that stills the mind by repeating seed or beej sounds that are said to vibrate different aspects of the universe. The most commonly used Mantra is Om or Aum, as it is said to be the sound of the universe. Begin by laying down or sitting in a comfortable position and repeating the sound Om. Do this for at least 5 minutes a day and increase to ten minutes and 15 minutes each week respectively. It is a wonderful and easy way to begin meditation and will increase ones intuition and sense of connectedness to the universe.
Breath Awareness. Find a comfortable position laying down or seated with your back straight and turn your attention to your breath. Place your awareness on your breath as it comes in, and follow it through your nose all the way down to your lungs. Keep your attention on the breath, try not to force the breath, just watch each movement of the inhale and exhale. Your mind will likely wonder, that’s ok, it’s natural. Just keep bringing it back gently to the breath. Don’t resist, or struggle with this. Remember, let what ever happen be Ok.
The most precise and excellent book on meditation available )in my humble opinion) is by Sri M, titled:
‘On Meditation ’, I highly recommend it for anyone beginning to meditate.
Commitment and Practice
It’s easy to say, “I’ll meditate every day,” but then forget to do it. Meditation is best done in the morning and late afternoon or before bed.Try to set a reminder for every morning when you get up, and put a note on the fridge that says “meditate” or somewhere where you’ll see it. Or maybe you want to go on a meditation retreat!
Nature – Sometimes taking a walk in nature and finding a quiet place to just be may be the best meditation. You can take yourself to a quiet, nurturing environment and try any one of these techniques and sooner or later your inner guidance will show you a new way of being in this world.
Megan Jackson runs meditation and yoga retreats for women’s healing. She has been immersed in spiritual practice and study for 15 years, living it fully, with humility and compassion as her backbones for progress. She lives a quiet life reflecting on the dharma, being with nature and helping others who are wanting change, transformation or spiritual wisdom.