What is meditation, and is it as complicated as it appears? The answer to the second question is definitely “no”. The first question will take a little more explanation, which will also help to explain why meditation is easier than it might seem to be.
During meditation, your mind and body are in a state of conscious relaxation and focus. You will experience sharpened awareness of both your outer surroundings and your inner being.
There is a considerable variety of meditation methods. But basically, the central principles are the same. A successful meditation experience can only be achieved when you calm your mind through the elimination of negative thoughts and emotions through deep focus. Afterwards, your thoughts will be less scattered and your actions more purposeful.
Think of it as housekeeping of the mind. Your negative thoughts and emotions (picture your reaction when faced with construction delays, being put on hold endlessly, and your brother’s upcoming trip to Europe) are what “pollute” your mind. Meditation “cleanses” the mind, allowing you to focus on the things that really matter.
Find a Sanctuary for Your Meditation
Your meditation session will be most effective in a calm environment. Find a room in the house where you feel comfortable. If there are other people at home, choose a location where you can close the door and muffle the noise. Turn off the phone, the dishwasher, the washing machine, and don’t let anyone vacuum.
Once you’re meditating on a regular basis, you’ll probably want some props. A meditation pillow or chair, some scented candles and some soothing meditation audio will all help you on your journey to Zen mastery.
Assume the Position
You’re sure to have seen the usual pictures of people meditating in unlikely positions with perfect posture. Rest assured that there’s no need to contort your body to experience meditation. The idea is to be comfortable so that you can focus on meditating, not your stretched muscles. You can sit, stand, lie down, or even walk around. The choice is yours.
Keep in mind, however, that your back needs to be straight if you’re standing or sitting. If you slump, you’ll be too relaxed and run the risk of falling asleep. And for maximum comfort, wear something loose and comfy so that you’re not focused on your pants cutting into your middle. You have much more important things to focus on.
Many people who meditate include a mantra as part of their practice. A mantra is a word or sound that is repeated over and over, and your focus should be on nothing but that sound. Choose a word or phrase that has significance to you, or just a sound that feels good. Although not a essential part of meditation, it does help you to concentrate on your breathing and can lead you to a higher state of awareness.
The key to a successful meditation experience is focus. Choose an object in your mind or in your line of vision, and concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else. The same applies to a specific thought as well as to your mantra.
For a simple routine to get you started, start by settling yourself in your chosen sanctuary. Close your eyes, and envision each part of your body, from the top down or bottom up, it doesn’t matter. Silently name each part as you think of it, and give it your full attention. You’ll immediately notice if there’s tension or discomfort in that particular location. In your mind, visualize the tension leaving that body part. You’ll be amazed at the results.