The main focus of any meditation session is understanding the mind and, over time, achieving a state of awareness and inner calm. This practice is ancient, but the scientific community is still studying its mysteries and benefits - among which are the control of emotions, increased concentration, stress reduction and even the creation of closer emotional bonds with people. With proper practice, it is possible to generate a feeling of tranquility in any circumstance. Finally, there are several ways to meditate; read the tips in this article and try the ones you find interesting.
Part 1 of 3: Finding a Comfortable Place Before Meditating
Step 1. Find a calm and peaceful place
Preferably, you have to meditate in a secluded and silent place to concentrate only on this period and avoid the stimuli and distractions of the outside world. Find a place where you can stay like this for five minutes to half an hour. It doesn't have to be so spacious: a room in the house or even a corner of the backyard will do.
- It is best to avoid any distractions, especially when you are inexperienced. Turn off the television, put the cell phone on silent, and so on.
- If you want to listen to music, choose quiet, repetitive tracks so you don't get distracted. It's also nice to hear white noises or sounds from nature, like a stream.
- The meditation space doesn't have to be totally silent and you don't need to wear ear plugs. The sound of cars passing by and dogs barking in the background are not so much of a hindrance - on the contrary: not letting these obstacles dominate the mind is an important part of the process.
- Many people like to meditate in open and public places, as long as they are not near busy or noisy streets. You can use a space in a park, like the shade of a tree, for example.
Therapist Paul Chernyak claims: "When it comes to meditation, frequency is more important than the duration itself. It's better to meditate for five to ten minutes a day than trying to relax for a whole hour in vain."
Step 2. Wear comfortable clothes
One of the main goals of meditation is to calm the mind and block out distractions, but it's difficult when you're uncomfortable with your clothes. So, wear loose-fitting pieces and stay barefoot to meditate.
- Wear a sweater or cardigan if the meditation area is cooler, or bring a blanket or comforter to protect yourself. Cold can also affect concentration.
- If you can't change your clothes, at least try to get more comfortable. Go barefoot, for example.
Step 3. Decide how long you will meditate before starting
More experienced people meditate twice a day in 20-minute sessions, but even five minutes is enough for those just starting out.
- Be disciplined and don't go past this meditation time. Also, don't give up because you think it's not working. You will need patience and practice, and for now, the important thing is to keep trying.
- Think of a way to schedule meditation time without getting distracted. Set the clock to wake up or use an event to orient yourself, such as when sunlight touches a certain object or a spot on the wall.
Step 4. Do some stretching before starting to relax your muscles
Since you're going to have to stay in the same position for a while, it's important to release the muscle tension first. Therefore, do some stretching movements for about two minutes to prepare your body and mind and avoid injury and pain.
- Stretch your neck, shoulders, and lower back, even more if you spend a lot of time sitting in front of your computer. Also stretch your legs, especially the inner thighs, for when adopting the lotus position.
- If you don't know how to stretch, try a few different techniques before starting to meditate. Many experts recommend a light yoga session in these cases.
Step 5. Sit in a comfortable position
It is very important to be comfortable with meditation. So you have to find the perfect position. The most common is to place a pillow on the floor and sit in the lotus or half-lotus position, but this can be difficult for those who lack flexibility in their legs, hips and lower back. Adopt a posture in which you are balanced, with your spine straight and your back very straight.
- You can sit (crossing your legs or not) on a cushion, chair or bench.
- Project your pelvis forward until you center your spine over the area of the ischial tuberosity, formed by two bones near the glutes. To do this, sit on the edge of a very fluffy pillow or place an object 7 to 10 cm thick under the back legs of a chair.
- You can also use a bench made specifically for meditation. If it is not tilted, place an object under the back legs to change the position (by about 1.5 to 2.5 centimeters).
Tip: you don't need to meditate sitting. You can also concentrate while standing, lying down and even walking - as long as you're comfortable!
Step 6. Straighten your spine after sitting down
Anyone is more comfortable and focused when they are able to adopt good posture during meditation. Start at the hips and imagine each spinal vertebrae balancing on top of the other to support the weight of your torso, neck, and head.
- You will need to train hard to find a position where you can relax your torso without losing your balance. If you can't relax without arching your back, correct your posture alignment and try to rebalance the area.
- The most important thing is that you are comfortable, relaxed and with your torso in line - so that your spine can support all of your weight from the waist up.
- You can rest your hands in your lap, palms up, and place your right hand on top of your left. If you prefer, support them on your knees or on your sides.
Step 7. Close your eyes to focus and relax
You can meditate with your eyes open or closed, but it's best to start with limited vision to avoid distractions.
- Start opening your eyes after getting used to meditation. This helps to ward off sleep and block out negative mental images (which bother some people).
- If you meditate with your eyes open, don't focus on a particular object.
- Don't "travel" while meditating. You have to relax but still stay alert.
Part 2 of 3: Experiencing Basic Meditation Techniques
Step 1. Pay attention to your breathing
Meditation focused on breathing is one of the most basic techniques in the entire philosophy, and therefore it is excellent for those just starting out. Focus your entire mind on a point above your navel and watch your belly rise and fall as the air passes through your system, but without altering your breathing.
Concentrate solely and exclusively on breathing. Don't think about air circulation at all (like "I took in less air now than I used to"). Just try to familiarize yourself with the process
Step 2. Focus on imagery to guide your breathing
Imagine a coin on top of your navel - and see it rising and falling with your belly; imagine a buoy floating in the sea and coming and going with the force of the water; imagine a lotus flower opening its petals over your abdomen (and so on).
Don't worry if your mind starts to wander, after all you don't have experience yet. Whenever this happens, regain your concentration and don't think about anything else
Step 3. Repeat a mantra to focus more
Mantra meditation is another common strategy, in which the practitioner repeats a mantra (a sound, a word, or a phrase) until the mind is silenced and the state of concentration is immersed. You can choose any expression as long as you can memorize it.
- "One", "peace", "calm", "tranquility" and "silence" are some nice examples of mantra.
- If you prefer to use more traditional mantras, repeat the word "Om", which symbolizes omnipresent awareness, or the expression "Sat-chit-ānanda", which means "existence, awareness, ecstasy".
- Repeat the mantra silently throughout the meditation to assimilate its meaning. Again: it's okay if your mind wanders. Just refocus and repeat the word.
- You may not even need to repeat the mantra when you start to become more aware and aware.
Did you know?
The word "mantra" means "instrument of mind" in Sanskrit. In other words: the mantra is an instrument that creates vibrations in the mind and pushes away any and all thoughts that do not have to do with meditation itself.
Step 4. Focus on a simple visual object to reduce stress
In addition to using a mantra, you can use a simple visual object to direct concentration. This is a way of meditating with your eyes open and it helps a lot of people.
- Almost any visual object will do: an aromatic candle flame, some crystals, a vase with flowers, or images of deities such as Buddha.
- Place the object at eye level so as not to strain your head and neck. Stare at it until your peripheral vision begins to fade and the object consumes all your attention.
- After focusing only on the object, you will enter a state of serenity.
Step 5. Use the visualization technique if you prefer to focus on internal images
Preview is also quite popular. One of the most common ways to use strategy is to create a peaceful mental place and explore it until you reach total calm. Anywhere will do, as long as it's not entirely based on reality. Think of something that is unique to you.
- You might visualize a clear water beach, a flowery field, a silent forest, or even a room in your home. Use this environment as a sanctuary.
- Once you enter your mental sanctuary, explore it thoroughly. Don't try to "change it" little by little; it is already complete and perfect. You just need to relax and think about the details that pop into your head.
- Take in the sights, sounds and smells of your surroundings. Feel the breeze on your face and the heat of the flame on your body. Stay like this for as long as you like until you have a more tangible experience. Finally, take a deep breath and open your eyes when it's time to finish.
- You can revisit this place whenever you use preview. If you prefer, you can also create another space.
Step 6. Concentrate on all parts of the body gradually
Not only that: learn to consciously relax each region. To begin with, sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, paying attention to one part at a time. Keep an eye on the sensations.
- Maybe it's better to start at the feet and end at the head. For example, focus on the sensations in your feet and try to relax the tight muscles in that area. Then go ahead and repeat the relaxation process on your calves, thighs, etc.
- Continue until you reach the head, always spending as much time as you feel is right in each muscle group.
- After gradually relaxing all muscle groups, focus on the body as a whole and feel calm inside. Control your breathing for a few minutes before you finish.
- With time and practice, you will begin to become more aware of the sensations in your body, as well as knowing how to deal with them better.
Step 7. Practice heart chakra meditation to explore love and compassion
The heart chakra is one of seven energy centers throughout the body. It sits in the middle of the chest and is associated with love, compassion, peace and acceptance. To meditate with this center, focus on these feelings and share them with the world around you. Get into a comfortable position and focus on your breathing.
- As you gradually relax, imagine a green light radiating from your heart and filling your body with pure love.
- Imagine love and light radiating throughout your body, and from there, transfer that feeling to the universe around you.
- Stop for a moment and feel the positive energy inside and outside of you. When you are finished, pay more attention to your body and breathing gradually and move your fingers and limbs and open your eyes.
Step 8. meditate walking to relax and exercise at the same time.
This type of meditation is a nice alternative for anyone who wants to move and feel the body's connection to the earth. If you plan to sit for a long time, stop every now and then and repeat the exercise.
- Choose a quiet spot to meditate and walk at the same time without getting distracted. If possible, go barefoot.
- Align your neck with your spine, clasp your hands together, look straight ahead, and take a small step with your right foot. Then stop for a moment before walking with your left foot. Only move one member at a time.
- When you reach the end of the course, stop and put your feet together, turn to the right and repeat the movement in the opposite direction. Always keep the same pace.
- During the exercise, focus exclusively on the movement of your feet, just as you focused on breathing before. Clear your mind and be aware of the connection between your body and the earth just below it.
Part 3 of 3: Incorporating meditation into your daily life
Step 1. Try to meditate at the same time each day
That way, you'll get better used to the routine and stay more disciplined, as well as reaping more benefits.
- Early morning is one of the best times to meditate, as the mind has not yet been invaded by the stress of the day.
- Don't meditate right after eating. You will still be digesting, so you may feel uncomfortable and less focused.
Step 2. Take guided meditation classes to improve the technique
You can also enroll in teacher-led meditation classes. Do an internet search for something cool or look at local gyms.
- Many spas, gyms and the like offer meditation classes.
- You can also view meditation videos on YouTube channels.
- Try attending a spiritual retreat for a few days or weeks to meditate non-stop.
Tip: Try downloading some meditation apps to get started at home. Many bring guided meditation tips and let the user determine how much time they have and what skill level they are at.
Step 3. Read books on spirituality to better understand meditation
This may not be everyone's beach, but many like to read books on spirituality and even sacred scriptures to better understand meditation and achieve inner peace.
- Read A Deep Mind: Cultivating Wisdom in Everyday Life, by the Dalai Lama, The Nature of Personal Reality, by Jane Roberts, The Science of Meditation: How to Transform Your Brain, Mind, and Body, by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, and so on.
- If you like, apply some elements of wisdom from your spiritual or sacred readings to reflect on during your next meditation.
Step 4. Learn to be aware in everyday life
You don't need to be stuck in "scheduled" meditation sessions: learn to be more mindful in everyday life. Be more aware of everything that happens inside and out.
- For example: in times of stress, stop for a few seconds and focus only on breathing to forget about everything that is bad.
- You can also become more aware when eating: pay attention to the flavors of foods and the sensations they bring.
- Try to be more aware of all aspects of everyday life, from working in front of the computer to sweeping the floor at home. It does the mind very well.
Step 5. Do exercises to stick to reality
Use some techniques to walk around consciously. Just focus directly on something around you or a specific sensation in your body.
- For example, focus on the blue color of a pen or on a folder on a table, and think about the feeling of your feet touching the floor or your hands touching the arms of your chair. Repeat these simple exercises whenever you start to travel or get stressed.
- You can also focus on multiple sensations at once. For example: take a keyring and listen to the sounds the keys make, feel the cold of the metal in your hand, etc.
Step 6. In addition to meditating, lead a healthy life
As much as meditating is good for physical and mental health, you can also combine the philosophy with other healthy everyday practices. Try to eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of sleep.
Don't watch too much television and avoid drinking a lot of alcohol or smoking before meditating. These activities, in addition to being harmful, can slow the mind and make it difficult to concentrate
Step 7. View meditation as a journey, not a goal
Meditating is not a goal, like "getting a raise." Seeing it as a tool for something better (even if you don't know what it is yet) is like thinking that the goal of a hike is to "walk a mile." Instead, focus on the process and the experiences themselves and don't get distracted by everyday problems.
When you start, don't worry so much about the quality of the meditation. This will improve with time and practice
- Don't expect to see results right away. Nobody is "zen" overnight. Meditate for gradual improvements, without thinking so much about what will happen.
- Meditating doesn't have to be complicated: inhale, exhale, forget about problems and relax.
- It's hard to concentrate when you don't have the experience, but you'll get used to it. Be patient.
- Do what you think is best. Each person has their own preferences regarding meditation technique. Try some alternatives and see what you think.
- If you have difficulty meditating for a long time, shorten your sessions. Almost everyone can concentrate in a minute or two without being overwhelmed by bad thoughts. Leave to extend the duration little by little.
- It's up to you to decide what to do with your mind at ease. Some people like to "fill" this mental space with positive ideas, while others prefer to rest. Finally, those who are religious use this moment to get in touch with God (or another deity).