How To Begin Meditating
Many people ask me how to begin meditating. It would take several books to do justice to understanding the practice and value of meditating. In this article I offer a very simple way to begin meditating. If you would like to meditate in a group or you would like to learn more advanced ways of meditating there are many options in the Brisbane area. A good starting point is to check out the website for Chen Rezig which is a Tibetan Buddhist centre located on the Sunshine Coast and offers courses and residential retreats. There is also a well stocked bookshop and library.
A Simple Technique To Begin Meditating
To begin meditating here is a very simple technique adapted from various practices and relaxation techniques.
- Choose a word or phrase which you find to be comfortable and calming for example “relax” or “love” or “peace”. You could use a phrase if you prefer like “I am peaceful” or any very simple phrase that is meaningful and easy for you.
- Find a quiet place where you will be uninterrupted, turn off your phone or other distractions and sit comfortably, ideally with your spine straight. Keep your arms and legs uncrossed and your feet on the floor.
- Begin with gently closing your eyes and putting your attention on your breath. Simply focus on your breathing for a few moments. Aim to take slow and deep breaths in a natural way without forcing a particular rythym. Allow your body to become more and more comfortable, loose and relaxed with every breath. Let your eyelids relax and let the muscles in your face, neck and shoulders relax. Notice the areas of tension or tightness in your body and just allow your attention to be on these areas of tension (focus on one area at a time), while breathing and mentally saying the word “relax”. Allow each area to relax, becoming loose and releasing the tension.
- Breathing naturally start saying your chosen word while you are breathing out. Avoid trying to force the breathing, just breathe naturally as you normally would. A variation on having a single chosen word on the out breath is to say the words “breathing in” on the in breath and ‘breathing out’ on the out breath.
- Your mind will run its usual chatter, random thoughts, producing memories and conversations and so on, so when you become aware of this just gently return your attention to your breathing and repeat your chosen word on the out breath.
- Stop either when you begin to feel too edgy or restless or at the end of your allocated time. Avoid forcing yourself to sit in practice. When you first start meditating this could be just five minutes (a surprisingly long time when you are in this relaxed and silent state) gradually building up to 20 minutes at each sitting. Some devoted meditators sit in meditation for much longer.
- When you stop open your eyes slowly and allow yourself to adjust for a moment taking a deep slow breath in and out.
Accept that it is a practice and the more you meditate the easier it will be to quieten your mind and relax. It is quite normal for your mind to race along in its’ usual busy way when you first begin to meditate, so just accept this and keep bringing your attention back without any sense of pressure.
Choose a routine or regular time to meditate each day, whether this is early in the morning, in the evening or some time during the day such as lunch time. This will not only help you to make the practice a habit, it will also help you to enter the calm and relaxed state more quickly and easily.
Meditators would encourage you to stay with it until you find yourself looking forward to your meditation sessions effortlessly as a natural part of your daily routine. You may also like to read my article about understanding meditation.