A Beginner's Guide To Meditation
Most people don’t give meditation a try because it seems too hard to sit still. For others it seems strange or mysterious. Still others don’t know where to begin or don't believe they have the time. As Emma Seppala, PhD, and Associate Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, says, "there are 1440 minutes in a day, how many of those minutes are you wasting on TV, Facebook, or your Smart Phone?" Did you know that there have been benefits of meditation reported after only 2 minutes? Yes, that’s right; you can receive benefits from meditation with only 2 minutes a day! Who doesn’t have 2 minutes?
If you are ready to remove the mystery and dedicate just two minutes a day, here are some simple techniques to get you started.
1) The mantra technique. Just sit comfortably in a quiet space. Focus your attention inward and in your mind begin to repeat a word or a phrase. Just focus your attention on that word or phrase. Some popular Sanskrit mantras are "So Hum" or "Sat Nam." But you can also use a word like Love or Thank you. It really doesn’t matter what you choose, just try to keep your attention focused on that word, with every breath in and every breath out. In the case of a two word phrase, the first word is on the in breath and the second word is on the out breath. It’s that easy. When you catch yourself thinking about other things, and you will, just move your attention back to your mantra. Start with 2 minutes and increase by 1 minute once you feel you have mastered the goal or want to challenge yourself. My teacher, William Hunt, used to say the mantra is like a perch for the bird (your mind) to land on and keep coming back to.
2) Just focus on your breath. Perhaps put your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your belly. Just notice the breath coming in and out. Notice how your hand on your belly rises with each inhale and dips with each exhale. You can also choose to focus on the sensation of breath as it touches the space just under the nose and above the upper lip. Focus on the breath moving in and out of the nose as it passes this place.
3) Focus on a sound. Perhaps that sound is the quiet sound that occurs in the inner ear. Perhaps it’s a piece of music that you enjoy. I prefer music without lyrics for this, but it is really up to you. Meditation is a personal experience. You will know what is right for you. It may be the sound of a gong or the sounds of nature, birds chirping, water running, leaves rustling. Just tune into sound and when your mind gets off track, don’t judge it, don’t attach to it, just as soon as you notice return to your sound.
There are many ways to meditate, these are just a few to get you started. I hope that you will try one of them. If you do try one stick with it for a week, if it isn’t working with you, then try another. But, give it a week before you decide it's not for you. Oh, and never change mantras in mid-stream, it’s just the mind trying to distract you again.
If you would like to practice together and live in the Chicagoland area, I offer a Sunday afternoon meditation class at 3pm in Naperville. You can find more information here or go here to purchase. To learn more about classes, coaching or workshops; please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (708) 232-6673.
Be Well and Enjoy the Journey!