Decades of scientific, medical and social research reveals that meditation has quantitative and qualitative benefits to anyone who takes up the practice; everything from lowering blood pressure, combating stress, overcoming insomnia, raising awareness, improving memory, cultivating happiness, reducing anxiety and increasing higher consciousness. The message is clear: if you want to feel great, then meditate. Here are 6 ways to begin your way to your inner peace and meditation practice.
1) Pick a place: Choose a suitable environment for meditation. That means a peaceful place where you won’t be easily interrupted by other people or loud sounds. Even if your surroundings are busy and noisy, make your meditation place as pleasing and comfortable as possible, so that you are happy to be there.
2) Select a time: Establishing a successful meditation practice involves selecting a time and meditating at that same time daily. Some people find that getting up a few minutes earlier to sit and meditate works well. Others like to meditate at the end of their day, shortly before going to bed. Still others find that a mid-day meditation break recharges them. Find a time that works best for you. If your schedule is hectic, don’t let that stop you. Just commit to sit and then find times that work with your changing schedule.
3) Prepare yourself: There are many options for sitting. You can sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. You can sit cross legged on your bed, couch or a cushion on the floor. If your body feels tight you may wish to sit on the floor or you may find it best to have your back leaning against a wall. However you sit, your back should be straight and erect but not rigid. Rest your hands comfortably on your legs or in your lap. At first a meditation posture may feel awkward but as you practice, the posture will begin to feel comfortable and familiar to your body.
4) Start with a small amount of time: Be reasonable and realistic with yourself when establishing how long you will meditate. Don’t set yourself up for frustration by deciding initially to meditate daily for a lengthy period of time. Remember that your goal is to establish a long lasting practice so it is better to begin slowly and progress gradually. If you’re a beginner, a few minutes can seem like a long time, so start off slowly and increase the length of your sittings as you feel ready and able. You may find that by the time you settle your body and mind and begin to focus on your breath, your time is up. If the session seems too short, you can always sit a little longer the next time. As your practice develops, you’ll find that even five minutes can be quite refreshing.
5) Remain focused in spite of distractions: As you sit, a variety of distractions will arise. For example, your foot may fall asleep, or you may feel some modest physical discomfort. As much as possible avoid responding to those distractions by moving and fidgeting. Acknowledge those annoyances, but try not to focus on them as part of your meditation. Be present, centered and concentrated in the moment.
6) Let thoughts come and go: Some when we meditate we believe that the goal of meditation is to have no thoughts. The objective of meditation however, is not to not have thoughts, but to reduce mental chatter and slow down random thoughts which bring confusion, anxiety, stress and mental overload. Meditation is about a focused mind, not about not having any thoughts.
These are some basic meditation techniques that will get you started on this exciting journey. Remember, just meditate however you happen to be on any given day; there is no right or wrong way to meditate.
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