Many people have a hard time getting started on spiritual development. The amount of information online is overwhelming. Especially if you don’t know exactly what you want, it can take tens or hundreds of hours of reading and searching. There are too many things that fall under the spiritual development umbrella, making it close to impossible for a beginner to decide where to start. I know, I’ve been there.
I think most people who have some knowledge on the subject would agree that learning meditation is essential no matter what path you may choose. This article teaches you how to meditate.
I could go on for hours on the benefits of meditation, but I’ll stick to the most obvious and perhaps the most attractive ones:
As I said, there are plenty more, just ask your psychiatrist . Before jumping to it though, you should know that meditation is a skill and therefore it has all the characteristics. You need to practice it to reap the benefits. That is, you need to allocate time to it.
Meditation is actually a very simple technique. And it’s not that difficult to learn either - but only if you want to learn it. One of the constraints is that you need a place where you can relax and not be interrupted, but I’m sure most people can find such a place.
It’s also very subjective. Different people prefer different techniques. However if you follow these steps you should be fine learning and adapting it to your own self.
1. Choose the object of meditation
This must be something “good” or at least something “not bad”. Choose something that resonates with you. You could choose a feeling like love (general love for this world), peace, or tranquility. Other people choose something abstract like a bright red orange ball, golden healing light, or the “Om” sound (mantra). Or some specific peaceful place (real or imaginary): a waterfall, or a meadow in the woods. Other options are your own breath, or simply relaxing your body. Or an enlightening person like Jesus, Buddha. I don’t like and don’t recommend choosing a particular person in your life as the object of meditation. It doesn’t feel right to me. Get creative and choose something that you like and resonates with you.
2. Mentally set the duration of the meditation
You can experiment with this as you go along. For starters, I recommend 15 or 20 minutes. When you find what works for you, it’s best to be consistent and stick to that duration for all sessions, if possible. You can use a watch to keep the time.
3. Get comfortable
You can sit on a chair, lie down, sit in lotus position or whatever makes you feel comfortable.
For the next period of time you set, try to think of your object of meditation. The mistake most beginners do is that they try too hard. Don’t do it! Think of your object of meditation, but in a relaxed way. Don’t let your muscles become tensed, and don’t frown.
Naturally, your mind will run in all directions. You won’t be able to keep it focused for more than a few seconds. Every possible thought starts crawling in when you try to meditate. Well, guess what? Your mind is always like that, you just don’t notice it. But the good news is, this is normal. You could be thinking of something that’s bothering you. Or something that you can’t wait. Or just random thoughts. So what do you do? Acknowledge the thought and slowly return your focus to the object of meditation. This will happen plenty of times in the beginning. You will need to switch back your focus (but remember to do it slowly, in a relaxed way) every 2 to 5 seconds. As you practice, you will find yourself getting better and better at this, holding focus for many minutes. You just need to practice, take your time, not trying too hard.
Many people like to have some meditation music playing during this time.
As you advance in practice, you will need to learn how to ground yourself.
5. Look at the time every now and then
When you’re done, take a minute or two to get back to “the real world”.
Experiment your way into meditation, try different things to find out what works best for you.
Here’s the two most common mistakes beginners do:
· Trying too hard. As I said a few times already, this will only make it more difficult. Meditation is about slowing down, relaxing, taking it easy. When your mind flies away, acknowledge the thought you had and slowly return your focus to the object of meditation.
· Giving up too soon. After trying for a few minutes, or maybe a few sessions, people think “this is crap / waste of time, it’s not working”. You have to sort those things out yourself, the best tip I have is to remember that it’s a skill, and it takes some time to master it. And then it takes some time to actually benefit from it.
It’s recommended that you practice once or twice a day. If the sessions are days apart, the effects might take much longer to kick in.
You may see the effects as early as during or after the first session. If that’s the case, you’re lucky. Normally after two or three weeks of daily practice, you’ll start noticing things around you. Like people becoming agitated and making a big deal out of an unimportant thing (or rather what you now see as an unimportant thing). You’ll find yourself very calm or careless in situations that would normally piss you off or cause stress. You’ll start to admire things and smile more often. You’ll see right through the BS people serve you or the BS propaganda on the news (like the bird flu hoax that made a few people rich). You’ll see people in a hurry to get from one place to another and realize that they forgot to enjoy their ride. You will accomplish more in less time, because your mind learns to focus on one thing. And much more.
There might be some unpleasant effects every now and then. Meditation is for the mind what sleep is for the body. Your mind will learn to rest, and as it rests it kicks in a healing process on many levels. Unresolved issues that were buried in your mind will slowly surface and you’ll have to deal with them. Some people call this a detox, on an emotional level of course - although the detox could sometimes have physical effects as well. This means you have to be ready to face your feelings, to forgive, to learn lessons, to cut unhealthy emotional bonds etc. If you’re not ready for this, don’t start meditating. But if you want inner peace, then meditation is a good way to get there.
If you have health or sanity related doubts about meditation, talk to a doctor or, better, a psychologist or psychiatrist. Make sure it’s an honest psychiatrist, because if everybody practiced meditation, they’d go bankrupt .