The main objective of meditation is to focus and understand the mind, being able to achieve, in the long run, a higher level of consciousness and inner peace. This is a very old practice, but scientists are still discovering all its benefits. Its regular practice allows controlling emotions, increasing concentration, reducing the level of stress and improving connection with people.
With practice, you can achieve a feeling of calm and peace of mind, regardless of what is happening around you. There are many ways to meditate, so if you notice that one does not work, you can try another that works better, before giving up and giving in.
Make yourself comfortable before meditating
Choose a peaceful and calm environment. Meditation should be practiced in a quiet place. This will allow you to focus only on the task at hand by avoiding stimulation and distractions from the outside. Find a place where you won’t be interrupted during meditation, whether it’s five minutes or half an hour. The space does not have to be very wide; a dressing room or even an outdoor bench can be good options for meditation, as long as you have a certain level of privacy.
If you are a beginner, it is important to avoid any external distraction. Turn off the TV, cell phone, and any other noisy devices.
If you want to listen to music during meditation, choose quiet, repetitive songs that allow you to stay focused. You can also use a white noise device or resort to the sounds of nature, such as the sound of moving water.
The meditation space should not be completely silent, so you will not need to use ear plugs. The sound of a lawn mower or the barking of a dog is not an obstacle to proper meditation. In fact, the ability to become aware of these sounds without allowing them to dominate your thoughts is a very important component of meditation.
Meditating outside the home works for many people, as long as you don’t feel close to a busy road or other source of loud noise. It is possible to find peace under a tree or sitting on the lush grass in the favorite corner of a garden.
Try basic meditation practices
1- Follow your breath. The most basic and universal aspect of all meditation techniques is breathing, making it a good starting point. Pick a point of the navel and try to bring your attention to it in your mind. Feel it rise and fall in the abdomen as you inhale and exhale. Don’t make a conscious effort to change your breathing pattern; breathe normally.
Focus only on your breathing. Do not think about it or evaluate it (for example, thinking that one breath was shorter than the previous one). Just try to know it and be aware of it.
2- Focus on some mental image to guide your breathing. For example, you can visualize a coin resting on the chosen point of the navel and feel it rise and fall with the breath. You can also imagine a buoy floating in the ocean, rising and falling to the rhythm and the pause of the breath. Alternatively, you can visualize a lotus flower on the abdomen, opening its petals every time you inhale.
Don’t get frustrated if your mind wanders. Remember that you are a beginner, and you will need time to perfect the technique. Just make an effort to refocus your mind on the breath and avoid thinking about anything else.
3- Repeat a mantra to stay focused. Mantra meditation is another common form of meditation that involves repeating a mantra (sound, word, or phrase) over and over until you silence the mind and enter a deep state of meditation. This mantra can be anything you want, as long as it is easy to remember.
Some good options to start with can be “one”, “peace”, “calm”, “tranquility” and “silence”.
If you want to use a more traditional mantra, you can choose the word “Om”, which symbolizes the omnipresent consciousness. You can also use the phrase “Sat, Chit, Ananda”, which means “Existence, consciousness, joy”.
Repeat this mantra over and over again in silence as you meditate, allowing the word or phrase to whisper in your mind. Don’t worry if your mind begins to wander; simply resume concentration and refocus on repeating the word.
As you achieve a deeper level of consciousness, you may no longer need to keep repeating the mantra.
Incorporate meditation into daily life
1- Meditate at the same time every day. Doing the practice at the same time will help you incorporate meditation into your daily routine. Meditating in the morning allows you to take full advantage of its benefits.
Early in the morning is a very good time to meditate, since the mind will not be full of stress and daily worries yet.
Meditating immediately after eating is not recommended. While the body is digesting food, you may experience some discomfort and difficulty concentrating.
2- Take a guided meditation class to perfect your technique. If you want additional guidance, take a meditation class with an experienced teacher. Do an internet search to find the different types of classes available in your city.
Gyms, beauty salons, educational institutions, and meditation centers offer classes in many cities.
You can also find lots of guided meditations and instructional videos on YouTube.
For a deeper experience, consider the option of a spiritual retreat to spend several days or weeks practicing intensive meditation. Vipassana Meditation offers 10-day retreats at its centers located in various countries.
3- Read spirituality books to learn more about meditation. While this option is not for everyone, some people claim that reading spirituality books and scriptures helps them better understand meditation and inspires them to actively seek inner peace and spiritual understanding.
Some good books to start with are The Mind Awakens: Cultivating Dalai Lama’s Wisdom in Everyday Life, Jane Roberts’s Nature of Personal Reality, Eckhart Tolle’s A New Land, and Donald Altman’s How to Clean Up Your Emotional Trash.
If you wish, you can take some messages of wisdom that impact you from some spiritual or sacred text to reflect on during your next meditation.