*Note: this thread is in response to a number of individuals from IS who have contacted me regarding getting started in meditation. This is meant as a beginner's instruction and while I do not have any degrees or certifications, I am a long-time practitioner of meditation and have successfully taught a number of individuals (including my own daughters - ages 11 & 16) how to meditate.
Much has been written about the benefits of practicing meditation on a regular basis. The physical benefits alone include stress relief, lowered blood pressure and pain supression. But there is an additional benefit that those persuing spiritual knowledge will appreciate, and that is the ability to clear your mind - to step back from the continual stream of chatter and get in touch with the Source.
There are dozens of methods of meditation. The terminology alone can seem overwhelming and there are those who don't feel as if they would ever be able to quiet their minds enough to reap the benefits. The following steps are very basic and will help you to focus on your breathing in order to allow you to quiet your mind. One thing I have found to be consistantly true; if you can't quiet your mind sufficiently, no method of meditation can have its full effects.
(you will need a kitchen timer or a clock with a timer)
- Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably (not a bed). By quiet I mean no kids or friends - a place where you won't be disturbed. Turn off your telephone, radio, television, or any other electronic devices.
- Seat yourself comfortably; back straight (you can prop yourself against a wall if you'd like, or a straight-backed chair can work too). Note: If you're sitting against a wall, be sure that you are sitting on a coushin or low stool as otherwise your legs will get tingly and distract you.
- Set the kitchen timer or alarm clock for 15 minutes.
- Close your eyes.
- Take several very slow, deep breaths.
- Concentrate on the indentation just above your upper lip but just below your nose. If it helps you to touch the spot, go ahead and do so.
- Concentrating on that spot breath in for four slow counts (keep your eyes closed!)
- Let your breath out through your mouth for four slow counts while still concentrating on that spot.
- Continue breathing in and breathing out as directed above until the timer goes off.
Your mind is going to try to distract you. It is going to present all sorts of things for you to think about: did you feed the cat? Did you lock the front door? Is that the telephone ringing? (I told you to turn it off!) Is my left foot itching? If I open my eyes right now, will there be a spider dangling in front of me?
DON'T LISTEN TO IT. Every time it presents you with a thought to think about - let the thought go, and bring your focus back to your breathing and that spot above your lip.
I know that this sounds silly, I mean, you're not concentrating on anything, after all, but it is very important to be able to clear your mind. For many beginners this can take weeks, months even of daily practice - the mind is very persistant. But eventually you will find yourself being able to slip in to the emptiness of mind that is needed to accomplish some of the more in-depth meditation practices (grounding, healing, energy raising etc).
My reccomendation is to practice this 10-15 minutes twice a day, but if you can only get in one session, that will still help.
Please don't hesitate to ask questions