People’s interest in meditation has grown in the recent years, as the scientific benefits in mindfulness and meditation continue to grow. However, while meditation is an important tool, many people are uncertain what to do to get started. Many find that when they first begin it is difficult to calm the mind, a condition known as “monkey mind.” The time spent meditating can then feel frustrating, boring or a waste of time. Here are a few tips to help you enter the concentrative zone.
Origin of meditation
While there is no actual record of the very first civilization or person who practiced meditation, the most popular historical personality who is said to have practised meditation is Buddha. According to history, a young Indian man, Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha who lived 563 BCE to 483 BCE became enlightened after years of meditation. Buddha is the Sanskrit word for enlightened one. Meditative techniques also arose in other ancient civilizations too. Tibetan monks who live high in the mountains also practice meditation. The shaolin teachers and students also use meditation as a normal part of their everyday life. Different countries practice different styles of meditation. However, it was not until the 1960’s that western countries became familiar with meditation. In the past decade, growing scientific evidence has come to light on the health and concentrative benefits of meditation and meditation has moved into the mainstream.
How it works
Meditation is used to clear the mind and unravel emotions. People also meditate to get a better understanding on what is happening to them and to their environment. By removing the mental chatter and other clutter from the mind, meditation helps improve concentration.
Clearing the mind does not mean eliminating any previous memories, or experiences. They are all still stored in the mind. What it means is learning how to focus on the present, to be in the moment whatever you are doing. Mindfulness is a form of meditation, which focuses on learning how to be in the now. It is propagated by several professors and American authors, including John Kabat-Zinn and Shinzen Young.
- Deep breathing. Breathing is important in meditation. The person must be in a relaxed state before anything else occurs. By breathing deeply, the body is slowed down and relaxed. Breathing deeply also provides the body and the mind with more oxygen which it needs because meditation requires energy. The body needs oxygen so that it could release all the fatigue. The brain needs oxygen because there is much it needs to process.
- Visualization. Another important move a person should know on how to meditate properly is visualization. Visualization is a technique or move which greatly helps in meditation. In this move, a person will hold positive visualize persons or mantras in their mind, such as “I want everyone to be happy and at peace.” By focusing on positive things or persons, the mind shifts into a more positive frame of mind that continues into the rest of your life.
- Noting: In this technique, a person notes an aspect of experience, such as the breath. During the in breath, a person can note rising. When the inhalation is finished the person can note, “Gone”, to signify the passing away of that aspect of experience. Noting is a technique of bringing the mind back to the present moment so that it does not wander.
- Positions. There are actually no moves done during meditation. Usually, the person will just have to stay very still. However, in yoga, there are different positions that must be assumed. Yoga is a form of meditation. It originated in India where different positions are done to achieve the balance of the body, mind, and soul. People follow specific forms that vary and increase in difficulty as the person gets better with yoga.
This will discuss the basic steps of how to meditate properly.
- Find a comfortable position: Finding a comfortable position will be very important before starting meditation. Find a comfortable place where there will be no disturbances then sit in the most comfortable position that you can think of. It is important that you find a position where your legs will not cramp. Sit down, relax, and then close your eyes.
- Start your timer: Many people who meditate find timing their meditation helpful. Beginners should start small, say 10 minutes per day. So that you are not distracted by the time, find a timer that you don’t find irritating. There are several iphone applications that can help you time your meditation.
- Practice rhythmic breathing: Another important step to remember regarding how to meditate properly is controlling the way a person breathes. During meditation, it is necessary to breathe slowly, evenly, and deeply. By breathing this way, the tension in the body and in the mind will be removed, and it will be easier to clear the mind of any disturbances.
- Start to note or visualize: When the tension is removed and the body is relaxed, the next step is to start noting or visualizing. If the mind wanders, gently bring it back to the present moment. Focus in on just the positive image or thought or the noting technique. As your mind calms down, it will become easier to enter a deep state of concentration.
- End the session: When the timer chimes, you will know that it is the end of your meditation. It’s helpful to end your meditation session gracefully, e.g. by slowly counting backwards from 10 to 1 then slowly opening your eyes.
Word of caution
Meditation is relatively safe. Beginners cannot really harm themselves if they try to attempt to meditate all by themselves. However, beginners should seek the help of a teacher or guide to benefit more from meditation. The guides will be able to offer more in-depth techniques about how to meditate properly. Meditation can be difficult at the beginning, as it can be difficult to calm the mind, or to focus on an aspect of experience. Having both a good teacher and a community to talk about your experience can be the key to advanced progress in meditation.
There are many different ways strategies and steps regarding how to mediate properly. There are also many different types of mediation techniques. In the United States, best-selling author John Kabat-Zinn and teacher and author Shinzen Young both offer different schools of mindfulness, which is a form of meditation. It teaches how to stay in the present.
Meditation has been proven to have many health benefits, including stress-reduction, immune system health, increased post-surgery recovery time etc. When done in the long term, it can develop your concentration and sensory clarity. However, meditation can be hard at the beginning. To get the most out of meditation, it’s important to find a good teacher. Having a community of meditators can also help improve focus and keep up your motivation.