Everyone has meditated once in their life even if it was as simple as closing their eyes, taking a deep breath, and pausing their thoughts when getting frustrated at someone. We all have a vague understanding of how meditation works and its stress relieving benefits. But, the practice of daily meditation can be more beneficial to one’s health than most people can even imagine.
Just like any practice, there our various meditation techniques with origins in Hindu and Buddhist traditions. However, the basics of learning how to meditate is a collaborative effort of simple ways to mediate that focus on the fundamental purpose of mediation.
7 Simple Ways to Meditate
Find your purpose
The first simple way to meditate is to understand why you are meditating. Many become interested in meditation for stress relief, anxiety release, or to increase concentration or decrease negative thought. But, these reasons for meditating may only bring you to the practice but not keep you there, for they are only symptoms of an imbalance.
To meditate (dhyana) is to be conscious and aware while liberating yourself from self-thought and self-awareness.
As you become more devoted to practicing the stillness of meditation you begin to realize that the pain you feel is merely the suffering of life. In Hindu terms according, to the Yoga Sutras, this suffering is caused by the misunderstanding of our connection to the world. In fact, you begin to feel, according to the Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy, that your soul or inner self is no different than the greatest metaphysical creation, aka God.
Start within yourself
We often have been taught to look outward for relief. Even the reasons for beginning meditation can be an outward desire; to relieve the pain. That is why for whatever reason you begin meditation, it is important to see it as more than just a remedy to an ailment. To meditate (dhyana) is to be conscious and aware while liberating yourself from self-thought and self-awareness.
This is how meditation can begin to benefit your health for the long run. Look inward to see the causes of your stress, anxiety, or cluttered mind then let them go. Realize that you have control over your suffering just as any other part of nature.
When you mediate all you have to do is exist.
Be like a tree
When we mimic the stillness of a tree in both mind and body we reach enlightenment (Samadhi). I’ve always loved the tree pose because I see trees as strong, conscious extensions of the earth. So, in meditation, a tree, or the more common analogy of a lotus, fits perfectly. A tree or a lotus has its purpose and it fulfills it with much ease through the cycling of life. It has no pain to be liberated from since it quite simply exists.
When you mediate all you have to do is exist.
Plant yourself in a meditation posture
You can use a number of meditation postures and techniques, but the most common are:
- Full Lotus: In a sitting position slowly bring one foot at a time on top of the opposite thigh.
- Half Lotus: Also in the same seated position slowly bring only one foot on top of the opposite thigh. One side should feel more comfortable than the other. Keep the other foot tucked under the opposite leg close to the inner thigh but still touching the ground.
- Burmese: In the sitting position bend both legs and keep both feet on the floor. Place your feet parallel to one another but not touching your thighs.
- Kneeling on a mediation cushion: If the sitting position is uncomfortable, try kneeling with your knees together on a cushion.
- Kneeling on a yoga block or prop: For extra knee support tuck a yoga block in between your thighs and butt while kneeling.
- In a chair: you can always use the comfort of a chair if the ground is not suitable. Make sure to add pillows or some kind of back support to the chair in order to maintain proper posture.
In any asana, relax your hands by your side then gently bring them to your thighs just above your knees. Your palms can rest in an upward position using one of the 5 mudras (hand poses) to direct your flow of energy or simply rest your hands facing down on your legs.
Your spine should be stacked and align with your tailbone. Keep your shoulders relaxed and slightly back. Your head and jaw should be relaxed as well. In most types of meditation you can lower your head slightly unless you are doing a technique such as Isha Kriya meditation.
The easiest way to slow down the mind’s thoughts and relax the body is to practice guided breathing meditation (Pranayama) which aids in the flow of energy and gives one focus and concentration. All that is needed is consciousness; to feel the stream of life going through you with each breath.
Always breathe in through the nose as deep as possible; fill the entire lungs with air. Then release with as much awareness, feeling the sensation of each breath.
Keep a focus
Your breath is the beating of a drum; it keeps you in tune. Stay with that tune in order to gain clarity while keeping out your usual thoughts. Your focus should not be forceful like you are hiding from the world; rather you are embracing the life given to you, accepting it, and living it.
To avoid distractions, I prefer to meditate with my eyes open. This method is preferred for meditation to open chakras since you can picture a certain part of the body and keep its focus better when your eyes are closed.
If you prefer to keep your eyes open then a focal point will help you concentrate. A wall tapestry with mandalas, chakras, or other geometric shapes with center focal point helps keep your focus solitary.
Vibrations are your friends
In addition to meditation music, your own voice can aid you in reaching a deeper level of meditation. Using ancient mantras like the sound Om generates vibrations inside you that match the vibrations of the Earth giving you a focal point while connecting you to nature.
Any positive phrase can be chanted and repeated in sync with your breathing as long as it keeps your focus. This can be difficult for beginners as it takes practice to focus on breathing and speaking.
I prefer deep vibrating sounds like Om that can be supplemented with instrumental music. Youtube has specific mantras that you can search for and find your perfect vibrating match.