HOW TO START MEDITATION: A GUIDE TO BEGIN IN THE RIGHT WAY
Would you like to start meditating in the best way?
Great! So this is the article for you 😉
Meditation in recent years has spread at an incredible pace as it gives countless benefits to those who practice it. While this growth is certainly positive, it often creates a lot of confusion.
Indeed, meditation has the goal of opening the mind and allowing us to look inside ourselves, but this can only happen if the practice takes place correctly and consistently. When this condition does not occur, it is pretty much impossible to get the benefits we are hoping for.
I decided to write this post to give you some hints to help you start meditating properly. Take some minutes of your time to read it, and you will discover everything you need to know to begin the practice of meditation in the best way.
Have a good read!
Meditation in a nutshell
Get ready for meditation
How to start meditating
Various meditation techniques
Meditation in everyday life
Meditation in a Nutshell
Meditation is unpremeditated art | J. Krishnamurti
As it emerges from the words of the Indian philosopher Krishnamurti, meditation can be considered the art of knowing yourself, your mind, breath, emotions, and thoughts.
Have you ever stopped to reflect on how much you know yourself? Have you ever been for more than 20 minutes with your eyes closed to observe your mind?
If not yet, you probably only know the most superficial aspect of yourself and in this case meditation can do really good to you. To get to know yourself, however, you need to focus your mind inwards and eliminate all distractions. Only when the attention is turned internally and is not disturbed, then the actual meditation is able to takes place. In addition to self-knowledge, meditation also makes us fully experience the present moment, which rarely happens in normal life. With meditative practice, we learn that the mind is constantly between past and future. The aim is to train us to bring it back to the here and now whenever it is no longer in the present. As you practice, you also develop a greater awareness and the ability to let go, which are two qualities that can change your way to see life.
Get Ready for Meditation
Wear Comfortable Clothes
First of all, it is recommendable that you wear comfortable clothes when practicing meditation. You want to focus the mind, not to concentrate it on those too tight pants or itchy clothing. My personal favourites are jumpsuits and any comfortable baggy outfit that does not bother me. Also, make sure your are not wearing too light clothes, especially in winter. The body cools down during practice, so cover yourself, maybe use a blanket too.
Choose the Right Place
It is very important to choose the right place for your practice. The mind gets used to it easily and meditating always in the same place helps concentration. Of course if you don’t have access to your favourite place to meditate, this should not turn into a limitation. If one day you are somewhere else or maybe you are traveling, meditate anyway and do not skip the practice.
Choose the Perfect Time
It is important to choose not only the ideal place, but also the ideal time. Looking at your ordinary day, try to understand when you might enter meditative practice. There are times of the day, such as sunrise and sunset, when the mind is calmer, so they are considered more suitable for meditating. Another good piece of advice I was given when I started is to try to meditate at the same time of the day everyday. The habit of always practicing at the same time positively affects the mind that gets well disposed towards mindfulness and introspection. Additionally, if you decide to practice for a defined period of time (e.g. 30 minutes), you should focus on not standing up or interrupt before that time is over.
Relax Your Body with Some Yoga
Maintaining the position of meditation is not easy at all and after a few minutes usually begin to arise various pains. To prevent this from happening I find useful to do some yoga to prepare the body for meditative practice, as asanas rebalance the body and prepare it to sit long during meditation. Actually, meditation starts already with asanas, as they can be defined as meditation in movement.
How to Start Meditating
Try to Remain Still
When you start meditating, it is important that you choose a meditative position and maintain it. At the beginning of your practice you can change to find the best position for your body, but once you have chosen it, it is important to keep it. If you’re approaching this world, a meditation pillow can surely help you maintain the position for longer.
Follow a Specific Technique
There are numerous meditation techniques that you can practice. No matter what technique you decide to start with, it is essential that you practice it for a long time and consistently. Many people go from one technique to another, but in my opinion this is not the best way to go deep into ourselves.
If you had to make a hole in the ground to find water, would you think it is better to make a deep hole or make many small ones???
Various Meditation Techniques
Vipassana is a meditation technique that consists in focusing mainly on breathing or body sensations in order to learn more about our mind and the laws of nature. It is considered as the essence of the Buddha’s teaching and it is also regarded as a real way of life. I am actually practicing this technique, and I feel it is greatly helping me look inside and in my process of growth.
This term means awareness and is what you get if you constantly practice this meditation technique. The development of awareness leads the practitioner to live fully in the present moment, the only one that ultimately counts. Mindfulness also comes from Buddhist meditation and is very similar to Vipassana. The first, however, has a more scientific approach, while the second more spiritual. This method is often used to solve widespread problems such as stress, anxiety, fear, addictions, etc…
Walking meditation is a wonderful technique that can be used both when you can’t sit for a long time and by those who prefer a moving meditation. In this case, instead of focusing the mind on breathing and body sensations, we focus on the gesture of walking and on the movement of the body.
This technique was spread by Osho, one of the most important spiritual leaders of the last century. It is a unique method because, unlike static meditations in which you sit all the time, it allows practitioners to move, to scream, to dance, to jump, and so on. Precisely because of its dynamism, it has been heavily used in the Western world.
Mantras are sacred words or sounds that are pronounced in repetition to form a core of spiritual energy and are used to calm the mind. Usually in yoga classes they are used to open and close a lesson but can be recited for a longer time, in this way taking on a more meditative aspect. They can be both recited aloud, whispered, or recited mentally. The best known manta is Om, considered the mantra par excellence.
Meditation with Mudra
Mudras are gestures that are made mainly with the hands, and they represent certain states or processes of consciousness. When we practice them, we get in touch with these states that they represent. Some of them, such as Chin and Gyan mudra, are particularly suitable for meditative practice as they calm the mind and allow us to concentrate more easily.
Zen meditation (or zazen) is of Japanese origin and, according to tradition, zazen was originally the posture of the Shakyamuni Buddha, through which he achieved complete liberation. This technique is based on the control of breathing, posture, and mind.
Meditation in Everyday Life
Consistency and Patience
No matter what technique you decide to practice, the most important thing is that you carry on the practice consistently. Many practitioners begin to meditate enthusiastically, but after a short time it disappears and gives way to boredom, doubt, and other obstacles typical of meditation.
It is important that you are aware of this and that you do not abandon the practice when the first difficulties begin to arise. Working on yourself and disciplining your mind is the hardest thing in the world, and if you really want to grow as a person and experience the benefits of meditation, you need to be patient and practice consistently. Patience and perseverance should always be in the mind of a meditator.
Follow a Master
Practicing self-guided meditation is among the best things you can do in your life. However, it can be useful to follow a teacher who can help you understand the mistakes you are making. When everyone begins to meditate, they are unaware of many things that happen within them. This state is called Avidya in Sanskrit, that means spiritual ignorance, non-knowledge, unconsciousness. To prevent us from remaining in the condition of Avidya the help of an experienced master can provide great benefits, otherwise we risk to make the same mistakes for a long time.
Dig Deeper into the Theory
Meditation is a practice-based discipline, therefore practice is a vital and most important aspect of it. In addition to it, however, books should be read to support the discovery of the principles that are hidden behind the practice.
Have you ever heard of informal meditation?
Many practitioners, even if they have been meditating for a long time, have no idea what informal meditation is. In a nutshell it is the meditation you do in your daily life and it is very important. Formal meditation is when you sit on your meditation pillow, while informal meditation is when you apply the same principles of meditation in everyday life. Basically, they are two sides of the same coin. Formal practice is indispensable to discipline the mind and develop awareness to practice informal meditation in life. It is when you start to live your days in a more meditative way that you begin to see reality with different eyes.
I really hope this article was helpful to you, and you have clearer ideas on how to start meditating!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marta Simoncini is an Italian yogi and RYT 200 student. She had the chance to live in Australia for some years and to travel Asia where she learned to embrace and appreciate a “more yogic lifestyle”.
She’s fond of life, adventure, animals, and people. The classic people person who believes in the power of positive vibes.
Writing her blog, she aims at sharing her journey of discovery of yoga.
She also believes in sustainability, and for this reason she has just begun creating her brand of eco-friendly yoga props.