Meditation is a Spiritual practice that can be done by anyone to calm the mind and restore a sense of serenity and inner peace. Be you a preacher, plumber, or tarot reader people of all walks of life can benefit from the practice. Yet many find the practice difficult to start at first, and may give up on it entirely before giving it a fair shake. Indeed many view the art of meditation to be so mystical and esoteric that they immediately assume the practice is beyond them without even giving it a try. Such need not be the case. In this article I will list some simple meditative techniques and suggestions which should work well for beginners, as well as some common pitfalls to watch out for.
The first step in starting the practice of meditation is making the decision to do it and setting aside a certain period of time to do it in. The time period you set aside for Meditation need not be long. For beginners it may even be best to keep it short at first, perhaps 15 to 20 minutes, then you can lengthen the time period as you become more comfortable with the practice. Find a period of time you can commit to when you are least likely to be disturbed. When I first started I got up an hour early every morning to create some quite time where I almost certainly would not be disturbed, and it worked very well. Pick a time that works for you, then stick with it.
Next, find a quite place which is free from the worries of the world around you, and create a sacred space for your practice. This place need not be out in the woods, deep in a cave, or high up in the Himalayas. It can be as close to home as your bedroom or private study. When you have your place picked out take some time to consecrate it for the task ahead. Take a moment to light a candle or burn a little incense in a fire-proof dish, then say a short prayer to Spirit or the God of your understanding using whatever words you feel are appropriate. If you are not comfortable with prayer for whatever reason you may also take a few moments to mentally unwind and relax. Look at the candle and smell the incense, forget about the day behind you or ahead of you and let yourself be in the present moment.
Once you have your time and place picked out and set aside for the practice of meditation you are ready to find a simple meditative technique which works for you. When I was first starting out I simply chose to listen to some soft music while looking at the flame of a candle in a darkened room. This helped to still my mind freeing me from the worries of the day. Later I began to lay the music aside and instead focused on my own breathing becoming evermore mindful and aware of each breath going in and out of my nostrils. Both these techniques worked to calm and still my mind, which is one of the key goals in meditation. One may also choose to focus the mind on a mantra; a short phrase or word which is meaningful to you. If you are consumed with thoughts and worries about the past or the day ahead, the use of a mantra will give your mind something else to focus on, something positive. Repeat the mantra over and over again, either silently or out loud. After a while your mind will let go of the worries held previously and will cling to the mantra. If the worries of the day should intrude into your thoughts during this time, do not despair! Simply acknowledge the intrusive thought, lay it aside, and continue on chanting the mantra. With practice the intrusive thoughts and worries will be become less and less frequent and attaining the meditative state of mind will become easier. In meditation as in all things, practice makes perfect.
Those are some basics to be mindful of, now for some common pitfalls. Many people get the idea that you have to be able to sit in the lotus position and hold that pose for an hour or longer in order to meditate like a Yogi. Such is not the case. You can sit in any position you wish, so long as the position feels right and comfortable to you. I used to meditate in the lotus position, but now anymore I find sitting in a chair or on a bench just as effective. If you are just starting out in the practice, a comfortable chair is probably the best way to go. Just find a position that will be comfortable for the time allotted, and go for it!
Also, many people get hung up on time in their meditation practice. Some feel they should achieve an hour of bliss in order to have had a good meditation sitting. I have found in my own practice that time is meaningless. There were times in my practice where I sat for over an hour when nothing seemed to happen for me, and the time dragged on and on and on! Then there were other times when I sat for only a few minutes and the bliss was so great hours seemed to go by. So do not measure the quality of your meditation by the amount of blissful time you have experienced. If all you get in the beginning is 5 minutes of calm and peace, run with it. The important thing is that you keep the practice up and persevere with it. The breakthrough into bliss may not come in the very beginning, but it will come eventually.
Also, don’t be too worried about falling asleep during the practice of meditation. If you should happen to fall asleep at any point in meditation, take that as a sign that your body needed the rest, and give yourself what you need. A few times I have been too tired to meditate properly and laid down for a short nap. Upon rising from my nap I was able to meditate with great results. So don’t be too hard on yourself. Give your mind, body and soul the nourishment that they need, and your whole being will bless you with health.
Blessings & Peace Profound,
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