There is so much information available on how to meditate. You have to sit like this, do it at this time of the day, for this amount of time, and you must achieve a certain ‘state of mind’ for it to be successful. The information is so varied and often contradictory that it makes it difficult to know what you should be doing.
I’m here to tell you now that: Anyone who tells you that you must follow their guidelines precisely to achieve a specific result is not helping you at all! We are all different and we will all achieve a meditative state is our own way, in our own time. The number one secret is to be relaxed in your approach when learning how to meditate. Then, number two: it is important to have no expectations. I’ll add more details about how these 2 tips will help you meditate successfully later in this post. But first, before understanding “how do I learn to meditate?” we should understand What is meditation?
What is meditation: How do I know if I’m doing it right?
Meditation is the practice of becoming aware of our ‘internal world.’ Constantly, throughout our busy days, our senses of taste, touch, smell, hearing, and most importantly, our sight are working overtime and they determine what thoughts our mind is having. We are constantly distracted from our ‘self’ and exist in a reactionary mode to stuff that is happening outside of us, or in our ‘external world.’
The aim of a meditation practice is to bring our awareness back to our physical sensations and also to become aware of the thought processes of our mind while it is free from external distractions. We know we are meditating when we are aware of how we are feeling and when we are able to be an ‘observer’ to our thoughts without any judgment of how we are feeling or what we are thinking. If we are judging ourselves in any way at all, we are still using our reactionary mind, and therefore we are not really able to observe the ‘truth of the moment.’
What are the benefits of meditation: Is it worth spending time meditating?
The benefits of meditation are actually awesome! There are many and they cover the full spectrum from mental health, physical health, emotional well-being, and spiritual development. A few of the benefits of meditation include:
- Stress reduction and a decrease in anxiety leading to improved emotional stability,
- Increased attention span leading to a more focused and creative mind,
- Improved confidence and problem-solving abilities,
- As the body learns to become more relaxed, general overall physical mental and emotional health improves,
- Our problems become smaller allowing for increased happiness,
- Blood pressure reduces as does tension related aches and pains,
- Increased self-awareness leading to an expanded awareness of our connection to the environment,
- A realization of how vast and peaceful our inner space is,
- Our meditations emit a vibration into the environment of peace, calmness and joy.
- Improved sleep patterns and helps to build stronger relationships.
Many more benefits can be researched online, but here I just want to give you an overall impression as to how meditation is beneficial to you and the whole environment. So do you think after reading the above list that it is worth spending time on a meditation practice? I cannot believe anyone would say no.
How should I sit, for how long, and how often should I meditate?
What is the best position to be in for meditation? Before beginning, it is important to set up a space that you will use for your meditations. This can be as simple as you favorite armchair, a place to lie down on the grass outside, sitting on the cliff top overlooking the bay, lying down on your bed, sitting in lotus position with a straight back, or standing on your head if this is comfortable for you.
There is no right or wrong place or posture. Sure, some choices are better than others, but for now, just find somewhere and some posture that you will be comfortable in.
Don’t make a big deal about it!
The important thing is that you need to be able to remain still and focused for the duration of the meditation. Once you have an area and a posture sorted out, and you continue to return to this space with the intention to meditate, your mind will naturally become more relaxed as it understands, because of repetition, what you are here to do.
For how long should I meditate and how often? We all lead different lifestyles and have different forces fighting for our attention, so the answer is going to be up to you. It is those people with the busiest, most demanding lives that would benefit the most from a regular meditation practice, and yet it is these people that have the most difficulty putting aside time to meditate.
A short time each day is preferable to a long time once a week. Even five to ten minutes, to begin with, is enough for your body to start deriving benefits from the deep relaxation that meditation delivers. Your mind and body, within a short period of time, will begin to crave more time out as it realizes the benefits that de-stressing brings. The key to benefiting from meditation is to make it regular. Once or even twice a day will yield noticeable beneficial results within a short time.
How can I empty my mind? Help, my thoughts are out of control?
It is a common misconception that meditation is a process by which we clear our mind of all thoughts. The mind is actually there to think, that is its job, and it is very, very, good at its job! So forget about emptying your mind for now, and instead bring your NON-JUDGEMENTAL attention to what is going on with your body and mind.
It is by reducing our stress levels and improving our ability to concentrate that we will develop the potential to become more aware of ourselves, (physically, emotionally and mentally,) our environment and the connections between the two. If your thoughts are getting the better of you, go here to learn how you can rewrite your negative thought patterns to create positive outcomes in your life.
So, how do I meditate? Easy meditation for beginners.
Begin in a comfortable relaxed position. Take a few deep relaxed breaths, full inhales in through the nose and full exhales out through the nose. Then relax the breath and let it find its own natural rhythm. If you wish to continue breathing through the mouth, that is OK.
Have no expectation of how your breath should be, and just do whatever feels natural for you, whatever makes you feel the most relaxed. Just observe the breath as it naturally flows in and out. If you are distracted, just relax, and once again return your focus to your breath. It is common to be distracted often when beginning meditation. Don’t get hung up on this!
Did you notice how often the word relax was used above, and that it is in bold text? Can you guess why?
Beginners may want to spend a few weeks to a month building up their ability to concentrate by remaining focused solely on their breath for their entire practice. This helps to develop strength of the mind allowing for greater clarity and insightfulness.
After the ability to concentrate on the breath for extended periods is developed, we can move on to the really cool stuff! You will get to observe how your mind is working! We can use meditation as an exercise for the brain, and we can train our mind to enhance positive characteristics and to weed out the undesirable characteristics like stress, doubt, anger, and fear: but only if we are relaxed about the whole process.
So now we want to relax our focus away from our natural breath and become like a visitor who is observing our thoughts. You are not your thoughts, they are things that are passing through your mind based on how you are programmed. You know this because you can actually observe your thoughts with detachment! This means having no emotional, physical or mental reaction to them.
Just allow yourself to see your thoughts for what they are: Programs that your mind has built up over the years based on all the information you have ever been exposed to! Practice, practice, and practice being the observer, and you will learn so much about how your habitual thoughts have either been working for you or working against you while you are trying to create the life you want. Information on how we can change thought patterns to actively create the life of our dreams can be found here.
As I said at the beginning of this article, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. If you can remember the two biggest secrets to successful meditation, (being relaxed and having no expectations,) given time you will just naturally slip into a practice that suits you. Remember, repetition is a major key to success here.
Yes, you can use whatever props you want. If something helps you to relax, it is beneficial. However, I wouldn’t recommend a bed of nails for beginners. That’s strictly for the advanced yogi’s. If you like certain oils, music or candles, use them, and enjoy them.
Be easy on yourself! There is no right or wrong here!
If you are having difficulty meditating you are actually trying too hard. That is all. Remember this: Successful meditation requires no effort!
Most people who give up meditating do so because they are trying to achieve something- like seeing stars in their head, a candle flame, an enlightened deity or something else that they have been told to look for or mentally create.
I told you at the beginning of this post, the number one secret to creating a successful meditation practice is to relax! Let go of everything that you currently think you know about meditation because chances are most of it is stopping you from actually achieving a meditative state, and just relax into the practice of ‘self-awareness.’
The number two secret is to have no expectations, but to just observe things as they are, not as you expect them to be, not as you want them to be, but as they actually are in the present moment. This is the practice of ‘self-awareness.’
If you get tangled up in your thoughts or distracted by stuff that is happening external to yourself, IT IS OK! Never ever judge yourself harshly, as a failure, or say I can’t do this. These negative thoughts create stress when your desire, at this moment, to be at peace. Just become aware of the fact that you are distracted and let it go. Go back to being aware of your breath and let go, let go, and let it all go.
I hope this blog helps some of you and encourages others of you to begin, or return to, a regular meditation practice. It is important for us to come to know ourselves better so that we can regain control of our lives. We can then live with passion and purpose and focus on creating the life we desire for ourselves, instead of accepting the one that is thrust upon us because of our ignorance of our own creative potential.
If you haven’t read it already, go to my post here to discover how, with focus, we can use the laws of attraction or deliberate creation to change our lives into an adventure that is worth being present for.
As always, I share with love in the hope that the information on this page will at least make someone’s life a little brighter. If you have any comments, I would love to read them.
With love and light,