Meditation 101: The Beginners Guide to Start Meditating
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Meditation is training the thoughts in the mind to slow down and let the mind rest. But is it that simple to slow down? Can we just turn the switch and stop the hundreds of thoughts passing through the mind?
Is it possible to do that? The answer is “Yes!”. Through meditation tranquility and focus it can be achieved. We can balance the right and the left sides of the brain with pranayama and then gradually the mind starts to calm down.
Why do we need to meditate?
Meditation is not only beneficial but necessary to calm the mind and to give it some time to rest. By meditating you are able to reduce the stress and slow down your thoughts, it recharges the batteries, increases physical stamina, spiritual strength and improves our ability to concentrate.
How can we ‘reduce’ our thoughts?
As you may already know, reducing the frequency of our thoughts is not easy, you really have to work hard to become aware and then break the patterns in your mind. The real work starts here. A good first step is to analyze and make a list of repetitive thoughts that take up the major portion of your mind.
This part of your mind is the one that interacts with your thoughts and creates an image of you separated from others. And when you see yourself separated from others, duality sets in and the pleasure you get from possessing and owning things or relations triggers the stress in you, making you fearful or doubtful of either losing them or controlling them. Your focus on taking care of your own little world starts making you feel that, without you, nothing can survive.
This ownership gradually generates stress and affects your body and mind. You lose control over yourself and that’s when restlessness, impatience, intolerance, and bad health take over.
No doctor or consultation can help you as you have to relearn to be able to control your mind from the thousands of thoughts that trouble you.
Pranayama is a powerful tool that can lead to a calmer mind, which paves your way for deep meditation. The awareness on the breath helps to calm the mind, but to be able to focus on our breath we first have to be of aware of the thoughts which occur repeatedly. We must learn to become an observer and let those thoughts pass without interacting with them.
Learn to be detached from these thoughts and they will cease to come to you. When you achieve this, your focus shifts to positivity and life starts to change. Mere awareness leads to the happy state of mind and good physical health.
When and where to meditate?
If meditating inside, choose a warm space, free from noisy distractions. And if you want to do meditation outside, choose a place where you feel safe and relaxed, make sure there aren’t many distractions around you.
How can we start to meditate?
The most recommended position to meditate properly without distractions is to sit comfortably cross-legged with your spine and shoulders straight yet relaxed. You can also place a cushion under the buttocks to relieve any tension in the lower back.
Your hands can be in any of these three positions:
- Hands cupped: place right hand over left hand, palms upwards, and lay them on your lap.
- Hands clasped: Clasp your hands gently by interlocking your fingers. Lay your hands on your lap.
- Chin Mudra: Use your thumb and first finger to form a circle. Rest your hands on your knees.
Meditation tips & tricks
- Regularity of time, place and practice are important. Regularity conditions the mind to slow down its activities with less effort.
- The most effective times are dawn and dusk, when the atmosphere is charged with a special spiritual force called Braham Muhurta, the auspicious time. If it is not possible to sit for meditation at these times, choose an hour when you are not involved in daily activities and a time when the mind is apt to be calm.
- Try to have a separate room for meditation. As meditation is repeated, the powerful vibrations will be felt in the atmosphere.
- Sit facing North or East to take advantage of favorable magnetic vibrations.
- Before you begin, command the mind to be quiet for a specific duration of time.
- Consciously regulate the breath. Begin with five minutes of deep abdominal breathing to bring oxygen to the brain. Then slow it down to an imperceptible rate.
- Breathe with rhythm. Regulating the breath helps to regulate the flow of Prana - the vital energy.
- Allow the mind to wander at first. It will jump around, but will eventually become concentrated.
- Do not force the mind to be still, as this will set in motion additional brain waves, hindering meditation.
- Select a focal point on which the mind may rest. For people who are intellectual by nature, this may be the Ajna Chakra, the point between the eyebrows. For those who are more emotional, I recommend to use the Anahata or Heart Chakra. At first you can try both and stick to the more comfortable one for you. Do not change the focal point after knowing which suits you better.
- Focus on a Diety you believe in or an uplifting object, holding the image between your eyebrows. If using a Mantra, repeat it mentally and coordinate repetition with the breath. If you do not have a personalized Mantra, use OM. Although mental repetition is stronger, the Mantra may be repeated aloud if one becomes drowsy. Repeat the same Mantra, do not change it.
- Repetition will lead to pure thought, in which sound vibration (vocal repetition) merges with the thought vibration.
- With practice, duality disappears and Samadhi, the super conscious state, is reached. Do not become impatient, this takes a long time.
- In Samadhi one rests in the state of bliss in which the knower, the knowledge, and the known become one. This is the super conscious state reached by mystics.
If you are able to maintain this habit by meditating for 20 to 30 minutes daily, you will be able to face life with peace and spiritual strength. Your mind will likely become calmer and more focused. .
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