What You Need to Know About Learning to Meditate - Anytime, Anywhere
Meditation is one of those things that we hear about, know of its benefits and think we’d like to do if only we - a) had the time, and b) could achieve the discipline to clear our minds of their everyday clutter. Ok for monks and people with nothing much to worry about perhaps.
But in a 2007 survey, over 20 million Americans had practised meditation in the preceding 12 months, which was an increase of 5 million from 2002. It’s a growing trend which indicates that it’s probably more achievable for us everyday folk than we might think.
There are lots of different types of meditation but all involve the person training his or her mind into a state of calm which is claimed to have many physical, psychological and spiritual benefits.
What are the benefits of meditation?
- Lower blood pressure and heart rate
- Reduced pain
- Increased exercise tolerance and stamina
- Better mental harmony and reduced stress
- Better confidence
- Improved memory and ability to learn
- Help in quitting smoking or alcohol addiction
- Better sleep
- Helps you keep things in perspective
- Helps you live in the present rather than worrying about the future or battling the past
Meditation is completely free, doesn’t need any special equipment and you can spend as much or as little time as you have. The more you do the greater benefit you’ll feel. Best of all you can learn to do it anywhere, at any time and it has no negative side effects.
So, your interest is piqued and you can see the benefits to your own life, how do you do it?
How to meditate.
- Don’t meditate just after a meal or when you’re hungry as this can be distracting
- Many people like to have a special corner of a room dedicated to their meditation, furnished with objects that you find calming. If you don’t have that luxury try taking some inspiration from nature by finding a place outdoors that brings you peace. However the discipline is in clearing and calming the mind, so being able to do this anywhere that suits you is key.
- With that thought, do you sit or stand? The traditional posture is to sit with legs folded and hands resting in the lap or on the knees, but being comfortable is important because you want to induce a sense of relaxed alertness.
- So keep your eyes open if possible so that all the senses are aware. Meditation is not meant to make you fall asleep or to put you into a trance. Don’t focus on anything in particular but be aware of your surroundings – what you can hear, see without moving your eyes, smell, feel and the taste in your mouth.
- Take your awareness to the top of your head and feel what you feel there – tightness, pulsing, tension, the temperature etc. Be aware of this without judging it before imagining a warm ball gently rolling over any tension and relaxing the scalp. At the same time be aware of the rhythm of the breath in and out and feel how it slows and deepens as you think about it.
- Repeat this process as you take your awareness to your face and down through the body to your neck, shoulders, chest, back, waist, hips, legs and feet, focussing on the relaxing warm ball and your breathing all the time.
- If you want to, you can repeat the process going from feet to head.
- Thoughts and feelings will come into your mind as you do this; acknowledge them and let them pass as you re-focus on your breathing.
- Start with short sessions of 5-10 minutes and gradually increase the time you spend and test your mental discipline by trying it in different places.
- Some people like to watch the flame from a candle or to chant a mantra or word (‘ommm’ is the one most people have heard of), to listen to the sounds of whales or waves or to recite prayers to themselves. There are no rules and an infinite variety of methods.
It doesn't take much to get started and on the way to accessing inner calm any time you feel you need it. This will immeasurably increase your quality of life.