How to Meditate

Nancy RoseBlog

The benefits of meditation are vast, and incorporating meditation into your life can help you gain mental clarity; increase self-awareness; raise your energy level; lessen your stress; improve your health; and increase your level of happiness, peace and purpose—overall, meditation gives you all of these benefits and more to increase the quality of your life.

“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” ~ Lao Tzu

The benefits of meditation are vast, and incorporating meditation into your life can help you gain mental clarity; increase self-awareness; raise your energy level; lessen your stress; improve your health; and increase your level of happiness, peace and purpose—overall, meditation gives you all of these benefits and more to increase the quality of your life.

Deepak Chopra, physician and meditation expert, says that meditation is something that’s a part of every spiritual tradition, regardless of what designated faith or beliefs you decide to practice (Oprah, 2012). In Christianity, there is something called centering prayer, which is used by Benedictine monks and has similarities to mantra meditations (Oprah, 2012). There are also breathing and body awareness meditations in all traditions. Meditation as a concept is not necessarily related to ideology but rather the quieting of the mind to reach the spiritual awareness that lies beyond your conscious thoughts (Oprah, 2012). By freeing your mind of thought overload you are able to reach a higher spiritual level. Remember the song “Free Your Mind” by the group En Vogue (Foster & McElroy, 1992)? The words to the song are, “Free your mind and the rest will follow. Those songwriters were on to something with those words!

When we quiet our minds and isolate single thoughts, we see with more clarity. Our mind has remarkable powers, but it tends to be overloaded with fragmented ideas, concerns, commitments and to-do lists, as well as emotional struggles that we carry around for years. Quieting the mind through meditation can help us spiritually, mentally and physically. Remember when you were a child, before you had so many obligations, when you had time to look at little parts of your world like the rocks, trees and the sky with absolute focus. Wasn’t it peaceful? Quieting the mind feels good and is nurturing to the soul.

Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is a tool we use to both quiet the mind and listen to our spirit. When the mind is loud, it distracts us like a child on a sugar rush. In contrast, connecting with the spirit brings calm and inner wisdom. Meditating offers relief from everyday chaos. You can achieve this by simply sitting with your eyes closed for a few moments in a peaceful place and concentrating on breathing. This is a great starting point and is like a catnap for the mind, allowing the spirit to come forward.

While we usually think of meditation as a stationary practice, there is another form called movement meditation. Eckhart Tolle brought this type of meditation to my attention (Tolle, 1999). Tolle believes that as long as you are keenly aware of being in the present moment, noticing things such as details of the physical world—flowers, branches, leaves or the sky—can bring a meditative state (Tolle, 1999). For me, this is a very uplifting practice and I try to do it frequently. This relaxed way of “seeing” while walking helps to clear my thoughts. I find that being present in the beauty of nature makes my problems and concerns much less intense and more manageable.

Meditation is a key component to creating a life with increased happiness, peace, love and purpose. You can become more successful in all that you do by allowing meditation to be a part of your daily or weekly routine. The physical, psychological and spiritual benefits are numerous, including (Cronin, 2013):

  • Decreased stress
  • Deeper relaxation
  • Better concentration
  • Greater alertness
  • Increased clarity
  • Increased creativity
  • Connection with your spirit
  • Greater knowledge of self

These profound benefits can quickly improve the quality of your life. I also learned some other interesting benefits of meditation while interviewing the meditation expert and guide, Tom Cronin (Cronin, 2013). He says (Cronin, 2013) that it is through this process of quiet mental activity and deep physiological rest that your are able to heal:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Addictions
  • Depression
  • High cholesterol
  • ADHD
  • Obesity
  • Low self esteem

No Experience Required

It doesn’t take years of practicing meditation before you can begin the journey to connect with your spirit. That’s one of the many awesome things about it—growth comes from what you learn in the meditative state, not what you learn before you attempt it.

You may want to delve into various types of meditation to see what methods resonate with you most. As long as you are meditating, you are raising your spiritual awareness. Just find a quiet place to shut your eyes, sit still and breathe deeply. You’ll find that meditating:

  • Doesn’t have to cost money
  • Can be done anywhere you can find a relatively quiet place
  • Doesn’t take long—start with 10 minutes a day
  • Doesn’t require any previous experience

The key to a successful meditation practice is to not have any expectations about your experience or the outcome you seek. Let go of trying to control the journey; let your spirit take the driver’s seat.

How to Meditate

There are simple, effective steps you can take to set your meditations up for success, making you feel more confident and comfortable with the process.

  • Get comfortable by choosing one of the following places:
    • Sit on level ground.
    • Sit in a chair with your back straight but relaxed.
    • Sit on a cushion.
    • Sit in the crossed-leg position if it’s comfortable for you. It is not necessary, however, and will not make for a better meditation.
    • Always wear comfortable clothing!
  • Meditate at a time of the day when you are alert, and are not sleepy:

Most experts advise sitting up when meditating because if you meditate lying down you may fall asleep. Even though this is what most experts recommend, I have to say that I am usually reclining while lying down and have meditated lying down with success. You may be fantastic taking that approach if you’re not ready for sleep at that time. Try to schedule your meditation so that you have not just eaten. You tend to get tired easier. But a word of caution, I know from personal experience that being hungry can be very distracting as well.

  • Choose a calming environment:
    • Find a quiet place.
    • Set a timer with a gentle alarm (if possible).
    • Dim the lights, if you can.
    • Some people like to burn incense or a candle, but it is not necessary. If it helps you to create “sacred space,” then do what works for you!
  • Commit to focusing on the meditation:
    • Concentrate on your breathing.
    • Meditate for short time spans and increase the time as you become accustomed to meditating.
    • Tell your body that it is okay to relax. Go through each section of your body, giving it permission to relax.
  • Don’t give up:
    • Create a time slot for meditating routinely.
    • Give yourself the required time to get used to the stillness. It usually takes about a month to become accustomed to a new habit or routine.
    • Accept that your mind will wander. When you become aware that it has strayed, simply turn your awareness back to the meditation.

Today is the start of something very exciting. Meditation is the key to finding the balance that brings you happiness, awareness and true contentment. Wouldn’t you like to quiet down all that chaos in your mind and find the clarity that is hiding beneath it? Beginning a routine that includes meditation in your life will enhance your life in so many ways including having more self-awareness; feeling better; increasing your productivity and energy level; lessening your stress; providing healing for various parts of your body; improving your health; physical, psychological and spiritual benefits; spiritual growth; increasing your physical well being; enhancing your connection with you spirit, Universe and world; raising your mental clarity; feeling more abundant health, happiness, peace and purpose; helping you relax; improving the quality of your relationships; and thereby improving the quality of your life.

This information is an excerpt from the book collection: My Spiritual Backpack: Meditation Demystified.