Beginning Steps To Meditation
Meditation is a formal process involving sitting quietly, while narrowing your focus or attention to your breathing, as well as, allowing yourself to relax and quiet your mind.
Meditation has been used for centuries, in conjunction with philosophical, spiritual and martial arts practices.
More recently, there has been a significant amount of research in mental health that attests to the benefit of meditating or engaging in mindfulness practices on a regular basis.
Mindfulness is another term used for meditation in more current literature and research associated with meditation.
If you study the history of various meditation practices, you find the concept of mindfulness is something that is described as a by product or result of meditation that refers to being more focused in the present, at any given moment, as opposed to being focused on the past or future.
Often when we are focused on past events or future events we may be worried or troubles to the point that it interferes with engaging more in what we are doing in the present.
Meditation may help you feel less worried, less anxious, less depressed, or less angry, as well as, feel more calm and focused.
Engaging in a practice of regular meditation may help you be more accepting or detached in a constructive way to problematic events, beliefs, negative narratives and negative emotional states when they occur.
Anyone can experience the benefit of meditation, first hand, by engaging in the process I have outlined below on a regular basis.
This is only one way of many to begin to learn how to meditate.
Nine Simple Steps To Begin:
Step One: Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit, where you are not likely to be disturbed.
Shut off your cell phone or other electronic devices, as well as, reduce any other potential distractions.
Step Two: Wear comfortable clothing. Sit in a relaxed cross-leg position on top of a pillow(s) on the floor with your back straight.
The pillows helps keep your body level, as well as, make for greater comfort.
Keeping your back straight helps you, remain alert and focused.
If you would rather, you can sit in a straight back chair, keeping your back straight with both feet flat on the floor.
Your hands and arms should be allowed to rest comfortably in your lap in sitting in either position.
Step Three: Look at the time to notice when you start your meditation.
Close your eyes to eliminate visual distractions, while your head is bent slightly forward.
Keep you back as straight as possible throughout the process, whether sitting on the floor on in a chair.
When you find your posture bending forward while sitting, straighten you back.
Step Four: Pay attention to your normal rate of breathing.
Notice how your breathing naturally takes care of itself, depending on your mental state and your physical activity.
You might think of your breathing like a swing, moving back and forth depending on the rate of oxygen you need and the kind of activity you are engaged in.
You may feel your breathing more in the upper, middle or lower part of your chest.
As your breathing slows down, you will feel yourself inhaling and exhaling in your abdomen in a very natural shallow manner.
Step Five: Now when you are ready to begin….observe your normal rate of breathing….allowing yourself to inhale and exhale naturally. Then start counting backwards from 20-0.
Begin with inhaling, then before exhaling, count 20, then exhale. Inhale, before exhaling, count 19, then exhale and so forth until you reach zero.
You may also slow your pace by inhaling and exhaling twice before counting the next number.
If you forget your number or get off track, don’t worry about it….just pick an approximate number and keep counting backwards to zero.
Step Six: As you are counting your mind may wonder temporarily to other thoughts….things you have to do or have done, concerns, issues, memories, images or mini-movies your mind generates.
You may also be temporarily aware of nearby sounds….clocks ticking, traffic, animals, people or other noise around you or outside.
Again, redirect your attention to your posture, your sitting, your counting and your breathing.
Your mind wandering is natural, but when you become aware of your mind wandering, redirect your attention to your counting and breathing as a way of narrowing your attention, as you continue your meditation.
As with any distractions or your mind wandering, you can also remind yourself that you will attend to the matter later…after you are finished meditating.
Minimize or shift away from any negative narratives or criticism in your mind of yourself or how you are doing in the process of meditation.
There is nothing to worry about. There is nothing to attain or achieve. Allow yourself to go with the process of what you are doing and have whatever experience you have. It will be ok and part of learning how to meditate.
Meditation, as I am describing it here, is pretty straightforward.
The more you meditate, the easier it becomes and the better you feel about it.
It is better to be doing it on a fairly consistent basis rather than only occasionally.
There may also be times, when it seems easier than others, depending on the amount of rest you have had or pressing concerns on your mind.
You may find it easier to do it first thing in the morning after getting up, before you do anything else.
You may also do it other times during the day, if more convenient.
Usually, as our day progresses, we become busier and busier, trying to accomplish as much as possible, making it more challenging to find the time and space to slow down enough to do it.
Step Seven: Once you have finished your counting from 20-0, you may count again, but slow the counting down.
Notice the location and rate of your breathing, while keeping your posture straight, head bend forward, slightly and hands and arms resting comfortably in your lap.
StpeOnce you have finished counting the second time, your task is to continue to sit as still as possible, while focused on your breathing and your posture for a total time of approximately 15-20 minutes.
When you think you are close to that time, you may slowly open your eyes and check to see if you have been sitting in meditation overall for 15-20 minutes since you first looked at the clock when starting.
If not, or if you want to close your eyes and continue your meditation, you can do so.