Many people think meditation is about chanting or sitting in lotus position with closed eyes. It doesn’t have to be as prescribed as that. Meditation is not about mastering a physical technique or being mystical. It is a mental experience.
Basically, meditation is about translating quietness into the mind after relaxing your body. People who meditate say that it gives them a sense of fulfilment and deep contentment. Meditation involves learning to keep you mind as ‘still’ as possible.
What you need to enter this state of stillness:
Many people lead very busy lives, packed with constant motion and activity. Our world is full of stimuli competing for our attention. Every day, our challenge is to take in various stimuli, sort out the importance of these and act on them. It’s difficult to contemplate a still mind with so much going on around us and within us.
How to still your mind
There are two important parts to stilling your mind enough to meditate.
1. Focus your attention on just one thing.
Perhaps you can focus on the sounds you hear outside or inside your body. You might decide to use the rhythm of your breathing or the repetition of a word that is meaningful to you, a mantra (‘om’ or ‘peace’ or any word that is significant for you). By repeating this word, or listening to the rhythm of your breathing, you are encouraging concentration and relaxation.
2. Develop a sense of indifference.
This sense of indifference comes from observing and concentrating on observing without reacting. Welcome sounds, thoughts and feelings. Let them come and go, rising and falling and washing over you like waves. You remain observant but unaffected as they pass by.
When and how to meditate
First, find a quiet place where you can sit or lie still. Make sure it’s not too hot or too cold. Secondly, set aside a time for yourself to meditate. Any time of the day that works for you is good, but the early morning can be a wonderful time because it sets the tone of your day. Finally, wear comfortable, loose clothes.
Meditation method 1
Simply sit or lie still. Just be still. This may be difficult for those people with busy lives and active minds.
Meditation method 2
Relax completely physically. Use the progressive muscle relaxation ( see Learning how to relax – June 30th, 2013) Just concentrate on the sensation of being still and accept what happens. Don’t allow distractions to take you away from your task of meditating. To stop those unwanted and distracting thoughts, concentrate on your breathing. Focus on your breath as it moves through your nostrils. In….out. In…out. Focus on this until stillness is restored. You can use the sound ‘om’ or continue to focus on the rhythm of your breathing to continue stilling your mind.
It’s important to sit quietly for a few minutes after you meditate and before you resume your normal activity. Try to keep that calm and still feeling with you after you finish meditating.
To learn more about slowing the pace and learning the benefits of stillness see Slowing the pace: Losing the hurry habit.