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How to Meditate: Some Important Tips
Meditation can help combat stress,
fosters physical health, helps with chronic pain, can make you sleep
better, feel happier, be more peaceful, as well as be more present.
Meditation is essentially relaxation time, so it should be done
entirely at your convenience. So, after the meditation you do right now,
for the subsiquent meditations, choose a time when you know you are not
likely to be disturbed and are free to relax and enjoy.
The hours of sunrise and sunset, while nature transitions between day and night, are also ideal for the practice..
Here are some simple tips on how to meditate.
you sit on a chair or cross-legged on the floor, make sure that your
spine is upright with head up. If you are slumped your mind will drift.
Mind and body are intertwined. If your body is well-balanced, your mind
will also be in balance. To straighten up, imagine that your head is
touching the sky.
and keep you eyes open. Open eyes allow you to be more present. Just
lower your eyes and let your gaze be soft. If you close your eyes you
will be more likely to drift away on thoughts and stories. However,
it’s important to do what is comfortable for you. Some people find
closing their eyes much more effective. It’s good to experiment and see
what feels best for you.
ordinary consciousness we are hardly ever present. For example,
sometimes we drive the car on autopilot while being preoccupied with
thoughts. Suddenly we arrive at our destination and don’t remember
anything about the drive!
meditation is a wonderful way of waking up to our life. Otherwise we
miss most of our experiences because we are somewhere else in our mind!
Let’s take a look at what focus is. In ordinary life, we tend to
equate focus with concentration. That’s like using the mind like a
concentrated beam of light. But in meditation, that kind of mind isn’t
helpful. It’s too sharp and edgy. To focus in meditation means to pay
soft attention to whatever you place in the centre of awareness. I
suggest using the breath as a focus. It’s like a natural door that
connects ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Zen Master Toni Packer says:
Attention comes from nowhere. It has no cause. It belongs to no one
3. The breath
Paying attention to the breath is a great way to anchor yourself in the present moment.
Notice your breath streaming in and out. There’s no need to regulate the breath – just let it be natural.
4. Counting you breath
you are having difficulties settling, you can try counting the breath –
which is an ancient meditation practice. On your outbreath, silently
count “one”, then “two”, and up to “four”. Then return to “one”.
Whenever you notice your thoughts have strayed far away or you find
yourself counting “thirty-three”, simply return to “one”. In this way,
“one” is like coming home to the present moment. It’s good to return
without a backward glance.
you notice thoughts, gently let them go by returning yous focus to the
breath. Don’t try to stop thoughts; this will just make you feel
agitated. Imagine that they are unwelcome visitors at your door:
acknowledge their presence and politely ask them to leave. Then shine
the soft light of your attention on your breath.
difficult to settle into meditation if you are struggling with strong
emotions. This is because some emotions tend to breed stories in the
mind. Especially anger, shame and fear create stories that repeat over
and over in the mind. Anger and shame make us keep looking at past
events of the past. Fear looks at the future with stories that start
with, “What if…”
The way to
deal with strong emotions in meditation is to focus on the body
feelings that accompany the emotion. For example, this could be the
tight band of fear around the chest or the hot roiling of anger in the
belly. Let go of the stories and refocus on your body. In this way you
are honouring your emotions but not becoming entangled in stories.
is healing. I know that there are is a lot of ‘meditation music’
around, but nothing beats simple silence. Otherwise the music or sounds
on the tape just drown out the chatter in your mind. When we sit in
silence we actually get to experience what our mind is doing. There is
steadiness and calmness that comes from sitting in silence. In time
outer and inner silence meet and you come to rest in the moment.
with 10 minutes and only sit longer if you feel the length is too
short. Don’t force yourself to meditate longer if you are not ready to
do that. In time you might like to extend your meditation to 25
minutes. That’s a length that allows you to settle your mind without
causing too much stress on your body. Most importantly, shrug off any
‘shoulds’. Some people enjoy sitting for an hour at a time. Others find
that they can’t sit longer than 10 minutes. Do what feels right for
lovely to create a special place to sit. You can even make a shrine or
an altar that you can face when you sit in meditation. You might like
to place a candle on your altar and objects that have meaning to you.
It’s lovely to find objects for your altar as you walk. Maybe you find
stones, or seashells, or flowers that speak to you.
of all, it’s important to enjoy meditation. You might like to try
sitting with a hint of a smile. Be kind to yourself. Start sitting just a
little each day.