If you are beginner, learning how to meditate can be overwhelming. That is exactly the opposite of what you’re going for. For most of us who are seeking a daily meditation practice, it can be hard to figure out the right way to meditate. While there may be a lot of paths various yoga teaches teach you, you may want to stick with the way the yogis of the Indus Valley in India did it – where Yoga originated. We will look not only at the position but focus your meditation on breath work, mind work, and whether or not you need a guide. And maybe you can handle the entire process by yourself, and that’s great! Let’s start…
Psychology Today says our minds have about 60,000-70,000 thoughts per day. And that most of these thoughts are either negative, or thoughts from yesterday. We all know by now (hopefully) that thinking about the past does not serve us. Until recently, meditation was thought to be some weird Eastern concept but is now being used more and more by the West. Even more recently the corporate world and schools have incorporated it into their offices and classrooms, respectively.
There are various positions and postures you can meditate in. You would have often seen the standard picture of someone cross-legged with their arms resting on their thighs. This posture has some significance which we will get into shortly. Both the Hindu and Buddhist yogis practice this position. However, the intent of your meditation practice will determine which positions work for you.
1. The Core
Your intention for meditation should be set before you go down this practice. If you are looking for this to be a one-time thing, it will not work for you. With anything in life, practice is key. Also, understand that you will – undoubtedly – reap the benefits of your meditation even if you don’t see it in the first few times or months. The laws behind how our minds and bodies work are not instantaneous. There is a time lapse that is always in effect from the time we ask for something, for it to appear in our lives. The same goes with meditation. Your mind and body will be changing unbeknownst to you. So keep going!
2. The Thoughts
Hopefully the reason you are trying to learn how to meditate is to bring calmness to your mind, to reduce the number of thoughts, and any negative emotions that come along with those thoughts. For that, you should:
- Aim to focus your attention on your breath and away from your thoughts. This may be easy for some because it allows you to halt your thinking because you have to focus on breathing instead. And do this in counts. Count to 4 as you breath in through your nose, and 4 as you breath out through your mouth.
- Watch your thoughts go by. If you already know how to do this – congrats! You are a step ahead of the game. If you are able to be aware of your thoughts, and see them float by, acknowledge that you see them and ask them to leave your mind.
- Find the space between thoughts. It is that tiny gap between thought 1 and thought 2. If you are able to find that thought, try to expand that gap as much as you can. In that space, gap, or stillness, you will find peace.
3. The Positions
1. Sitting Cross-Legged
The five yogic positions for meditations are Sukhasana, Siddhasana, Vajrasana (not cross-legged), Ardha Padmasana, and Padmasana. Without going into detail about each of these poses, the common denominator for all these poses is to keep the upper body – your torso, in a vertical position. There are multiple reasons for this. One of the main reasons for this posture is to allow yourself to be vertically connected to the energy from above the earth to come down through you. And to let the earth below you to connect to your root (which is at the bottom of your spine). As physics and science continue to explore these theories about eastern traditions, yoga and meditation especially are being confirmed. So without doubt, if you are looking to start or grow your meditation practice, start with these positions.
2. Sitting on Chair
Those who have health concerns or just physically cannot sit in the cross-legged position can use this alternate method during their practice. Here again, your core will be upright and that is the best position to allow for better meditation. This, along with the positions in #1 will help you focus your mind on your breath.
3. Laying Down
While some people have claimed that this is a good position, it is only a good position if you are unable to do #1 or #2 above, or if you are hoping for your meditation to get you to sleep. Also, if you have a health condition and cannot do the other positions, this position will work too. While it is not impossible, it just makes it a little more difficult to be in this position while trying to breath in and out deeply. But, if you can – go for it.
4. Kneeling/Thunderbolt (Bonus position!)
Ouch! Also one of the positions mentioned above (Vajrasana), this one doesn’t work for me since I can’t get my feet to stop hurting from bending them. Sit on a soft cushion or bed, kneeling with your torso rested on the heels of your feet. Rest your hands gently on your knees. This is also a good position to sit in for 5-10 minutes after you have has a meal as it assists in digestion.
4. Guided or DIY
1. Guided Meditations
There are many meditation teachers, healers, and guides out there. However, knowing what works for you is the first step in identifying where you are in your meditation journey and what you actually need to learn how to meditate.
I have practiced meditation for 12 years now and even now, I sometimes use a guided meditation and sometimes just do it on my own. I even do a guided one first, and follow it up with a non-guided one. If you are looking for specific guided meditations, drop me a note and I will gladly send you ones that have helped me.
2. Unguided Meditations
If you find it easier not to hear something running the background because it disturbs you or breaks your concentration, you can do this without that interference. I do find it is harder to learn how to meditate when there is no one guiding you.
One of the things that may help you is to mentally repeat a mantra. You don’t have to be Hindu or Buddhist to use a mantra and if you feel weird saying “Om Shanti” with roots back to Hinduism, use whatever you feel comfortable saying. Using Hymns, holy words, or sacred text too.
Not all of us can learn how to meditate like holy Buddha, right? So don’t put any pressure on yourself by comparing your practice to Buddha (who meditated under a Bodhi tree for seven weeks). Also don’t compare yourself to your friend who meditates for 30 minutes a day. Learning how to meditate is a personal journey and needs no comparison.
Related: How to Become More Spiritual
Even though you may not get and stay at the meditative state for long, every trial is a success. If you meditate for 1 minute a day, congratulate yourself. With practice and faith, that timing will increase. And be grateful of the journey you are on because you took the first step to understanding and learning how to meditate. And so your healing has already started, poppet.
Are you going to try to meditate?
Disclaimer: Please speak to your health care professional before starting any physical or mental practice.
Featured photo courtesy of pexels.com
Last updated on March 4, 2021