Throughout this blog post I want to discuss with you the practice of meditation, the benefits that can come from it and show you how to begin meditating in 8 easy steps.
Personal Experience with Meditation
To kick things off I would like to discuss with you a little bit about my personal experience with meditation. For me the first time I ever heard about meditation when I was in year seven at school in about 1994 and my physical education teacher told our class that you would often see him on the play school grounds sitting there in the grass with his legs crossed his eyes closed and simply being quiet. He said to our students that if you ever see him there sitting down in the grass with his eyes closed it would mean that he was meditating and that often in the past people have come up to try and talk to him while he was meditating and he would simply ignore them. He explained that he was not being rude but just engrossed in his meditation.
Going back about 20 years ago when my physical education teacher at school was telling us about this practice that he was involved in I thought it was an extremely unusual and peculiar activity to take part in especially whilst you’re on your own and I also thought that it was somewhat rude that he would just ignore people when they came up to him and tried to speak to him. Whilst I am sure that meditation has been practiced as an activity for centuries I think that it has really become quite a popular and mainstream practice in recent times and in particular recent years.
With the popularity of human optimization increasing and more people trying to get a mental and physical edge in today’s society we can say that meditation is one form of activity which is certainly increased in popularity in order to create a healthy mind.
For me over the past few years my thinking has certainly changed from that of 20 years ago when I first heard about meditation. In recent years I have been becoming more interested about this practice and have began to start taking part in the activity of meditation myself however my problem was that I just did not know how to start.
On a number of occasions I would try sitting down in a quiet room with my legs crossed, my hands sitting on the edge of my knees, my eyes closed and try my hardest to a remove every thought and memory from my mind to achieve absolute and complete clarity. But I often remember finding myself becoming extremely frustrated every time that I would try meditating only after a few minutes because I was simply unable to clear my mind and stop racing from one thought to another. Now I wasn’t completely sure as to what the experience of meditation would feel like that I was pretty sure that I was meant to relax, ease my mind and try to stop thinking about all the worrying and stressful things in my life.
So after a few attempts of becoming frustrated from this process I guess I gave up and didn’t bother trying again for quite some time.
However, recently I took two weeks holiday from my stressful work life and I went to Hawaii where we visited Maui, Turtle Bay in the North Shore and Waikiki in Honolulu. One of my goals before setting off on this two week holiday was to try and really relax my body and reset my mind so that I could go back to work in a completely refreshed state. Before I left for Hawaii I purchased a collection of books one of which I spent most of my time in Hawaii reading called The Power of Intention by Dr Wayne Dyer who is really a world renowned self-development speaker, author and expert. After reading this book it completely owned my eyes to a whole new way of thinking and to be quite honest with you it was this book which gave me the inspiration to start attracting a whole new level of high and positive energies into my life. It was also this book which sparked my interest into again having another go at taking part in meditation.
I remember as clear as day, one early morning while we were staying at the Turtle Bay Resort in the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii I got up before the sun had risen and I went out to the shoreline just close to where the waves were breaking I put a towel down on the ground and I said to myself today was the day that I was going to begin meditating. It was probably the best way to really start my meditating journey off since I was surrounded by beautiful natural settings my mind and body were already in a relatively relaxed state because I was on holidays and through being inspired by Dr Wayne Dyer’s writings I had a certain level of determination to succeed in being able to perform meditation.
So How Did I Start Meditating?
Well when I was sitting on my towel on the shoreline of the beach I sat there with my legs crossed, my hands on the edge of my knees and my eyes closed just like I had done the previous times before when I felt that I had failed to meditate. But this time my mind was relatively relaxed and I was able to relax it even more by simply concentrating initially on my breathing. The way that I would concentrate on my breathing was by imagining to myself that all the oxygen that I was breathing in through my nose was positive and pure energies which were basically cleansing my mind and my body. Then every time that I would exhale I would imagine to myself that I was ridding my body and my mind of all the stresses and impurities that had built up over time. I would try breathing the air in through my nose and exhaling the air are out through my mouth. At times I would notice that my concentration would sometimes begin to wander off and would start to think about thoughts that were in my mind, this could have been random thoughts, stresses and pressures going on in my life or as simple as external stimuli that I could sense such as a bird chirping outside. My mind would start to wander and think about other things other than concentrating on my breathing.
From my experience this is just a natural thing that your mind tends to do. It tends to wander off all the time and think about different things but all I had to do was be conscious that my mind was wandering and try to bring it back to concentrate on my breathing and the fact that I was sitting there trying to relax my mind and meditate. So everytime my mind would wander off I would make this shift of turning my mind’s attention back to my breathing and then my mantra which I will discuss with you shortly.
The amazing thing is that after four or five minutes of concentrating on my breathing I tend to notice an extreme level of relaxation that came over my whole body and my mind. It’s almost a feeling and experience which is really hard to describe but if I was to try to describe it I could say that it felt like I was in a trance like state having a minor out of body experience or as though I was kind of floating. It is hard to explain this feel that came across me but it was such a pleasant feeling and experience to have that I felt like I was in a certain zone or mind flow state where my breathing continued and my mind was just focused on relaxing and resetting itself.
In order to stop my mind from wandering off to various other common thoughts or being distracted by any external stimuli I would begin silently saying a mantra or series of words which have a great deal of meaning to me. Everyone should develop their own mantra which inspires them or provides them with a platform to think about what they are seeking to achieve from their meditation. For me it was and still is the 7 facets of intention which were described in Dr Wayne Dyer’s book The Power of Intention. These 7 facets of intention which I will discuss shortly assist my conscious thinking which Dr Wayne Dyer says should be introduced into a person’s life if they are seeking to attract higher and more positive energies.
The 7 facets of intention as described in Dr Dyer’s book include:
After about 20 minutes of meditating I start to become more aware of where I am and my immediate surroundings and then I open my eyes and the world around me always looks incredibly vibrant and full of life and colour. My mind is so relaxed that it felt like I didn’t have a care in the world and I physically had a smile on my face. It was actually like I have just woken up from the most refreshing and happy dream. I will never forget this first true experience that I had where I successfully sat down and relax my mind and was able to enjoy my meditation. I will never forget where I was either – Turtle Bay Resort North Shore in Oahu, Hawaii. It really was this one experience and first experience of meditation which has turned me to incorporating meditation into my life on a daily basis.
Now I must admit that I do not always have the same level of concentration, relaxed feeling and trance like state that I had on that day that I first truly found out how to meditate and experienced it for the first time. But I do find that even if I don’t experience that floating or trance like state of mind and still performed 10 to 20 minutes of meditation it makes me a more positive, more relaxed, more happy, more understanding and definitely a more patient person in my daily life. It is the best natural relaxant drug I have ever taken.
I really never understood the true power of meditation until I was able to really sit down and experience it for myself and I believe that everyone needs to take a stand at some point in time and really experience what meditation is all about. The thing is that no one can do it for you, it is something that you need to do for yourself and you can read as many books and listen to as many people as you like who will tell you how great meditation is for you but it really will not hit home as to how powerful and amazing meditation really is until you experience it for yourself.
I can give you examples of my own personal experience and also tips and tricks of how to try to get into that meditation state for yourself but ultimately it is going to be up to you to really sit down in a quiet area and be able to relax your minds and perform meditation for yourself. I implore everyone who does not meditate or who has not experienced meditation before to take the time to really try and incorporate meditation into their daily lives. It is such a powerful and free mental activity that you can perform we each will only help you be happier more energetic and positive person with far more direction and clarity in your life.
Let me discuss with you 8 easy steps to help you begin meditating.
8 Easy Steps to Meditating
1. Position Yourself
You want to be able to find yourself a comfortable and preferably a quiet area free from distractions.
Position yourself into a seated position with your legs crossed on the ground. It is important to keep a good posture so sit upright with your back straight and your head held high.
You can put the back of your hand on the edge of your knees and hold your thumb and index finger together. Alternatively, you can just sit your hand comfortable in your lap.
The reason why your meditation position is so important is because you want it to be able to enhance your relaxation so you must ensure that you are comfortable and free from distractions. But you also want to ensure that you are alert and aware so that you can tune into your state of meditation. Posture and positioning is an extremely important first step to begin each meditation session.
Close your eyes.
You must relax your whole body and I find that the best way to do this is to go through an initial process of focusing on each individual body part and trying to relax it.
When I first start a meditation session I will close my eyes and start to think about my toes, then my whole feet, then my calves, then work my way up my legs to my pelvis and mid section. I then start to focus on my fingers, then my hands and work my way up my arms to my neck. Once I have reached my neck I put all my focus on to my whole head and face. Finally after I have scanned over my whole body I physically notice that I am completely relaxed.
This is a great way to relax your body and begin each meditation session.
3. Be Still & Silent
It is important to now just sit in position and remain silent. It is important to try and choose a peaceful and quiet surrounding so that this is easy to do.
By sitting still and being silent you should just start to become aware and conscious of your surroundings whilst you have your eyes closed.
This will enable your mind to begin to relax and wonder.
Breathing is such an important part of the meditation process simply because it enables you to bring your heart rate and mind under control and allow it to easily slip into a state of relaxation.
Throughout your entire meditation session you should hold some degree of awareness towards your breathing.
I find that the best way to breath during meditation is to inhale air through your nose so that you can fill your lungs with air and contract your diaphragm. You should inhale this air at a slow to medium pace but make sure that it is at a controlled level.
The last thing you want to do is inhale too fast as this will work against relaxing the body and the mind.
Once you have taken in a full breath of air you will notice your belly expand, you should then pause for a second and exhale the air from your lungs which will relax your diaphragm and notice your bell suck back in.
It is crucial that when you inhale and exhale that you do so at a controlled rate. Often I come to notice mid way through my meditation session that my breathing becomes faint since I am getting carried away with my other trance life thoughts and feelings. Once I realize this I just make a small shift of focus onto my breathing yet not detracting from my thoughts and feelings at that point in time.
5. Establish a Mantra
A mantra can come in many different forms and can be customized for each individual person. Generally, speaking it is usually a word, a phrase or even a sound which you repeat over and over throughout your meditation session.
Some say that using a mantra can have profound trance and trans-formative effects on them however I find that it provides me with the ability to focus my mind and thought so that other distracting thoughts and stimuli do not interrupt my point of focus.
As you will notice from the example of my meditation process above, my initial mantra is to focus on saying to myself that “I am breathing in pure energies through my nose, and I am exhaling the negative and stressful energies out my mouth.”
My mantra then shifts to focus on saying and thinking of the 7 facets of intention that I also discussed in my above meditation scenario which I go through in the following order:
1. I am CREATIVE
2. I am KIND
3. I am LOVING
4. I see BEAUTY in everything
5. I can EXPAND my creativeness, kindness, love & beauty
6. There is an ABUNDANCE of creativeness, kindness, love & beauty everywhere
7. I am RECEPTIVE to creativeness, kindness, love & beauty
This is the mantra that I use but as mentioned a mantra is something that you should create or develop in your own mind, something that provides you with a sense of relaxation yet is also inspiring.
6. Calm Your Mind
Throughout the entire meditation experience your main goal should be to enable your mind to relax yet at the same time be focused. When we say focused we refer to being focused on your breathing or your mantra which ultimately leads to a heightened level of mental and physical relaxation.
Some people get frustrated when beginning to first meditate because various thoughts, emotions and feelings popped into their mind and they become frustrated at the whole meditation process because they cannot absolutely clear their mind of these various mental processes.
Truth be told is that you will never be able to completely stop random thoughts, emotions and feelings from popping up into your mind, however the way in which you deal with these mental processes is how you will succeed in your meditation journey.
Do not get frustrated if you are focusing on your breathing and mantra and all of a sudden thoughts of what work you have waiting for you at the office or whether it is raining outside or whatever random thoughts may enter your mind.
You must accept that this is an external thought inhibiting your meditation focus and just put these intruding thoughts to one side and shift your focus back to concentrating on your breathing and/or your mantra. The quicker you can putting these intruding thoughts to one side then the more focus you will have on your meditation task at hand.
Do not get frustrated, just practice and learn to deal with the intrusions. After a while you will become good at enhancing your focus on your breathing and your mantra
7. Ending Your Meditation
You should not put a time on how long you decide to sit down and meditate for, there is no set rules as to how long you should meditate for since some days will be longer than others and other days will be shorter.
But when it comes to ending your meditation session you really need to learn to read your own mind and assess when you feel as though you have fulfilled and achieved what you have wanted to get out of your meditation for the day. The time you sped meditating will vary from session to session.
Novices and beginners should start out doing shorter 5 to 10 minutes sessions and work their way up to 10 to 20 minute sessions or longer.
So when the time comes that you feel you are coming to the end of your meditation session you should slowly bring your mind into a more present state of consciousness and awareness of the environment around you. Whilst coming to this realization you should continue to keep your eyes closed. Start to remember where you are and the physical stimuli surrounding you, then when you feel you are ready you should gently open your eyes and just remain seated for a few moment to take in the beauty and colours that your see.
I always feel so refreshed and the colours of everything around me tends to have enhanced colours about them. I really do notice the beauty in things around me when I open my eyes and I do like to just sit to appreciate the world I am living in.
You may wish to count a certain number of breathes prior to ending your session or alternatively you may have a specific ending mantra which you know and associate in bringing the meditation session to an end.
Having a few moments to reflect on your meditation session is so important because it acts like a debrief and allows you to give more analytical thought to how you are going to carry out the rest of the day.
8. Meditate Often
Who doesn’t have 10 to 20 minutes each day to spare on one of the most important mental activities you can do to ensure the healthiness of your mind. If you have time to sit down and watch TV, jump on Facebook or Twitter, or simply procrastinate then surely you have a small amount of time to devote to pursuing wellness of your mind.
I am a strong believer in waking up early performing some physical activity and then performing 10 to 20 minutes worth of meditation. It has almost become routine for me each morning before I start the day out. I guess you could say it has become habit, and what a great habit it is. Not only does it relax my mind and get the creative juices flowing but it also allows me time to reflect on what I need to do and visualize how I am going to accomplish my blueprint for the remainder of the day.
I notice that meditation at the beginning of the day is a wonder way to put me into a happy, positive and relaxed state of mind to go out into the world and take it on with energy and enthusiasm.
Do not stress if you miss a day or 2 or however many days you have missed meditating because the beauty is that meditation will always be there for you whenever you want it.
In saying this it is very good for you to be able to incorporate meditating into a habit thus introducing it into your daily living.
So I hope that this blog post has in some way helped give you an insight into my experience of meditation and a brief step by step process of how to begin meditating yourself.
After many years of not being bothered to look deeper into the power of meditation I am now just sorry that I did not look into it earlier. However, extremely happy and thankful I am now on board.
I would love to hear back from you about your first time meditation experiences, such as where you were, what you felt and any other profound experiences you have had from meditation – I would absolutely love to get you meditation feedback. You may also have some tips of your own that you find help enhance your meditation sessions.
I do look forward to trying out a meditation float tank and reporting on it and my experiences in the near future.
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