The Practice of Meditation
The Practice of Meditation. Preparing Body and Mind for Meditation Meditation involves being intentional and mindful while placing your body in a comfortable position. Before you begin to engage in meditation, make sure that you have an allotted amount of time in which you will not be disturbed by phone calls or demands from family members or coworkers.
Choose an area in which you feel safe and relaxed, with soft lighting and minimal noise.
- Make sure that your body is relieved by visiting the restroom, drinking water, and eating a snack or a meal beforehand so that bodily urges do not overwhelm you and distract you from your meditative exercises.
- You may even want to make sure that your body is clean and that your skin is moisturized so that you can feel most comfortable when gaining awareness of your body and so that discomforts do not overwhelm you.
- Adjust the temperature of the room or wear appropriate clothing so that your body will be neither too hot nor too cold.
- Use a comfortable cushion with a soft fabric to sit upon.
- If you are using music in your meditation, use something that you are familiar with which does not have any surprising clangs, screeches, or riffs.
- Put your music player on constant repeat so that you will not have to break your attention to start a new song.
The Meditative Posture
- While meditation does take several forms, from laying down to sitting to moving to balance in various positions, many meditative exercises start with and can be completed with a simple sitting posture.
- This posture can be used for meditation involving mindfulness, breathing, imagery, gazing, prayer, and music among other things.
- The meditative sitting posture is important because it allows the meditator to sit comfortably, allowing for good circulation and alertness while engaging in relaxation.
- Maintaining alertness is essential as meditation is not simply just relaxation, but it is also a mindful awareness.
- Start by choosing a room or space that is free of distractions and that has a comfortable temperature.
Turn off your cell phone and all other distractions.
- Wear clothes that are comfortable and that do not itch, shift, or dig into your sides.
- Sit on a cushion on the floor.
- Or, if you choose, you can sit on a couch, an office chair, or a bed as long as it will allow you to comfortably maintain a strong posture.
- Cross your legs in front of you, tilting your pelvis slightly forward to accentuate the natural curve of your spine.
Distribute the pressure of your body evenly between your buttocks and your legs.
- If you are sitting in a chair, place both feet evenly on the floor.
- Elongate your neck and your spine, allowing your head to rest in line with your shoulders.
- Slightly tuck your chin inward. Relax your jaw, your tongue, your eyes, and your brow.
- Let your shoulders rest in line with your hips.
Allow your shoulders to fall back, opening your chest.
- Instead of crossing your legs, you could also bend your legs at the knees and gently press the soles of your feet together, tucking your heels in close to your pelvis.
- Also, you could engage in the “lotus” position, a traditional meditative posture, which involves crossing your legs and resting your right foot on your left thigh and your left foot on your right thigh.
- Rest your arms on your lap or your knees, either with palms facing up or down or with hands loosely cupped within each other.
- Alternately, you may choose to use a traditional form by connecting your index finger or your middle finger and thumb, forming a circle, and either turning your palms to face the sky with the back of your hands resting on your knees or turning your hands over, letting your palms rest on your knees.
- However, you choose to place your hands, make sure they are supported and that your shoulders do not feel any strain from your posture.
Allow the breath to flow naturally in and out of the body, allowing the chest and belly to rise and fall as is comfortable.
- Allow your spine and shoulders to move with your breathing, ensuring that you are not sitting too rigidly.
- Take a few deep breaths into the upper chest, allowing your chest to open.
- Allow yourself to relax as you exhale, keeping a feeling of an opened chest as you do.
- You are now ready to engage in meditation.
- The following are a few simple modern meditative practices that you can easily incorporate into your daily schedule.
- These exercises are appropriate for beginners and are easy enough that you can practice them in almost any environment, whether you are in the comfort of your living room, your office or cubicle at work, or sitting beside a river or fountain or in the pavilion of a beautiful garden.
- Many of these exercises can be effective when used as little as ten or fifteen minutes per day.
- As you gain comfort with meditation, try engaging in it for longer, even as long as thirty minutes or an hour or more, when you are able to do so.
Choose one or two that you think you might enjoy and give it a try.
- This is the core of most meditative practices.
- If you are unfamiliar with meditation, start here and do this meditation several times until you are comfortable with it before you move on to the different forms of meditation.
- Begin by finding a quiet, comfortable area.
Turn off your cell phone and any other distractions.
- Place yourself in a meditative sitting posture.
- Focus all of your attention on your breathing.
- Notice how it sounds when you inhale and how it feels as your breath fills your lungs and then leaves your body through your nostrils.
- Breathe deeply and slowly.
- When your focus shifts to some mental distraction, slowly return your thoughts back to the simple act of breathing.
- Feel relief as your only task is to be quiet and listen to your breathing.
- Continue until you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
- Choose a quiet place, free from distractions where you can comfortably listen to music.
- Turn on music which you find relaxing.
- Many people prefer to use instrumental music, especially ones that include the sounds of strings, bells, or nature.
- Engage in a meditative sitting posture and breathe deeply, relaxing your body and clearing your mind of worries and thoughts.
- Focus on the sounds and melodies of the music, allowing it to affect you.
- When your thoughts wander, return your attention to the music, breathing slowly and deeply.
- Go to a place where you can feel safe and be uninterrupted from distractions.
- Engage in a meditative sitting posture and breathe deeply until you feel relaxed, clearing your mind of worries and fears.
- Think upon one or several positive affirmations about yourself.
Here are some examples of positive affirmations you can use, or you can choose your own.
- I am able to achieve anything upon which I set my mind.
- I am doing work that I find enjoyable and fulfilling.
- I am capable of achieving the success I desire.
- I am competent and able to face any challenge this day.
- I have the wisdom to make the best choices.
- I feel the love of those who are not able to be physically near me.
I take pleasure in my own solitude.
- I have the power to choose my own path.
- I love and accept all of who I am.
- I view my setbacks and losses as a gift.
- I trust my intuition and my heart to guide me.
- I am able to draw upon my inner strength and my inner light to guide me.
- I am more than good enough.
I see the perfection in all my flaws.
- The past has no power over me.
- The future will not control me.
- All that I need will come to me.
- I have a unique contribution and purpose in this world.
- I am created in the image of God and am blessed with divine power and energy.
- I am an heir to the abundance of God’s kingdom.
- The presence of God is around and within me.
- Choose a mantra – a word, sound, phrase, or scripture upon which you would like to focus your attention.
- You might want to choose a quality that you want to incorporate into your life such as “love,” “peace,” or “forgiveness”.
- Alternately, you might choose a favorite quote or scripture that has personal meaning.
- Once you have chosen your one word, sound, or phrase, go to a quiet, comfortable place, removing yourself from distractions and engaging in a meditative sitting posture.
Start by breathing deeply.
- When you feel relaxed, say your word or phrase either to yourself mentally or out loud.
- Repeat your word several times, slowly.
- Meditate upon the meaning and impact of the word.
- Another variation of this technique can be involving the use of various prayer beads and prayers, using each bead to help you concentrate and focus on prayer as you repeat it.
- Go to a quiet, comfortable place and turn off your cell phone and other distractions.
- Place yourself in a laying posture for this exercise, resting upon your back with your arms and legs straight and your neck and spine elongated.
- You may choose to lay on a mat or on your bed.
Engage in deep breathing, taking deep and slow breaths.
- First, notice what areas of your body are in contact with the mat or mattress.
- Focus on softening these areas by tuning into each part and relaxing it, whether you notice your hips or your head feeling the pressure.
- Next, set a mental intention to leave all distracting thoughts or sounds and solely focus on your body.
- Agree to accept every feeling in your body, whether it is pain or relaxation.
- Focus your attention on various parts of your body, starting from your toes to the soles of your feet to your ankles all the way up to your head.
Give each part of your body individual attention.
- Notice the various sensations of your body, whether you are feeling warmth, tension, pain, or relaxation.
- Imagine breathing relaxation, warmth, or acceptance into each part of your body.
- Finally, after you have paid attention to each part of your body, focus on how your body feels as a whole.
- Although traditional body scanning involves remaining still the entire session, you may also want to experiment with a variation by choosing to gently stretch or massage areas of your body that need to be relieved of tension as you engage in body scanning.
- Go to a comfortable quiet place free from distractions.
- Engage in a meditative sitting posture.
- Start by breathing deeply, focusing on the sound and feeling of your breath, and allowing your body to relax.
- When you feel relaxed, visualize an image of a peaceful place, either real or imaginary.
- Common places include beaches, mountains, or forests.
- Alternately, you could imagine a new place filled with fantastic creatures like unicorns and fairies or alien plant life.
- Focus on each sense.
- How does the place look?
- Imagine the visual details, focusing on each one.
- Imagine what you would feel, smell, taste, or hear in this location.
- Choose a pre-recorded guided imagery track or attend a guided imagery session with a therapist, teacher, or meditator as your guide.
- Many guided imagery sessions are available for free online through video services such as YouTube or through audio and video podcasts.
- Engage in a meditative sitting posture and breathe deeply.
- Listen to the instructions provided, visualizing each detail of the guided imagery as you listen.
- Choose a place to walk in which you will feel comfortable and safe, whether it is a sidewalk, a park, or a hiking trail.
- Instead of focusing on walking to exercise or reach a specific destination, focus simply on the feeling of movement and the soles of your feet pressing into the ground as they propel you forward.
- Slow down the pace of your walking so that you can focus on each movement of your legs, arms, and torso.
- Allow thoughts to pass through your mind without focusing on them, judging them, or holding onto them. Return your focus to the feeling of walking.
Reading Reflection or Quiet Time:
- Find a quiet place, free of distractions.
- Silence your cell phone.
- Read a poem, a sacred text, or a scripture.
- If you like, read it several times and focus on each phrase independently.
- Then, read it again and focus on the meaning of the poem or phrase as a whole.
- Quietly reflect on the meaning of the passage and the impact upon your life.
- Listen to sacred music or spoken words.
- Write your thoughts in a journal, being sure not to judge any thoughts you may have.
- Alternately, you can choose to simply copy the text into your journal once or repetitively while breathing deeply as a means of concentrating, focusing upon, and memorizing the text.
- Find a quiet place free of distractions and engage in a meditative sitting posture.
- Breathe deeply, focusing your attention on the sound and feeling of your breath entering and leaving your body.
- Focus your attention inward, gaining awareness of your feelings of being centered or grounded.
- The idea of being centered basically means returning your scattered thoughts and attention back to yourself and the space of your body.
- If you notice that your energy feels imbalanced or unfocused, try to refocus your attention to the energy at the core of your body.
- Alternately, you can also focus on different chakras or areas of energy from Hindu tradition.
The seven chakras are a complicated concept, but in short, they are:
- The Crown Chakra – at the top of the head, this chakra is associated with spiritual connectedness, understanding, will, and the color violet or purple.
- The Third Eye Chakra – slightly above the center of the eyes, this chakra is associated with intuition, psychic knowledge, and the color indigo.
- The Throat Chakra – at the center of the throat near the collar bones, this chakra is associated with communication and the color blue.
- The Heart Chakra – at the breast bone, this chakra is associated with matters of the heart, love, and emotions as well as the color green.
- The Solar Plexus Chakra – at the diaphragm, between the breast bone and navel, this chakra is associated with intellect, cleansing, life force, wisdom, and the color yellow.
- The Splenic Chakra – at the belly button, this chakra is associated with creativity and the color orange.
- The Root Chakra – at the pelvic region, this chakra is associated with the earth, sexuality, and the color red.
- Go to a place where you can be free from distractions and turn off your cell phone.
- You may choose to do this exercise with relaxing music or in complete silence.
- Stand tall with your feet firmly planted on the ground, legs shoulder-width apart to form a strong base, and knees slightly bent.
- Align your head over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips.
- Lengthen your spine and allow your shoulders to fall back, opening the chest.
- Allow your arms to rest at your sides or bend them at the elbows, lightly pressing your palms together.
Take several deep breaths, clearing your mind of all thoughts and focusing on your breathing.
- Continue to breathe deeply as you gain a sense of centeredness or groundedness.
- When you are ready, move your body slowly.
- There are several ways to engage in movement.
- You can simply stretch up to the sky or bend to the ground or allow your body to bend and sway in a snake like fashion or like a tree responding to the movements of the wind.
- You can start crouched on the floor, imagining that you are a flower blossoming, slowly and gently unfolding each and every petal until you are standing tall in the full light of the sunshine.
You can imagine that you are an animal, moving, stalking, and preening.
- If you are listening to music, you could pay attention the rhythms and swellings of the music, allowing yourself to dance in free-form as a response to the music.
- When you move, do not judge your movements, but accept the natural sway and rhythm of your body.
- Choose an object which has particular meaning to you, whether it is a statue or picture of a deity or saint, an image, an object of nature such as a stone or a flower, or the light from a burning candle.
- Set the object up in front of you, slightly lower than eye level, in a quiet place free from distractions.
- Engage in a meditative sitting posture, close your eyes, and breathe deeply and slowly, focusing your mind.
- Now, instead of leaving your eyes closed, open your eyes and focus your gaze upon the intended object.
- When you can no longer resist the urge to blink, close your eyes and picture the image of the object in your mind.
- Reflect upon the nature and meaning of the object, or simply allow it to capture your attention as you quiet your mind.
- Allow thoughts to flow through your mind without holding onto them or judging them.
- Return your focus to your object.
- If your focus wavers or the mental image of your object begins to fade, open your eyes, again, and repeat the gazing process until you need to blink, again.
- A variation of this exercise uses colored candles, with each color representing different qualities.
Choose one color and focus on the qualities as you watch the candle burn.
- If you choose to use a candle flame, make sure you are in a place that is free from fans or breezes so that your flame does not extinguish or fluctuate wildly during your meditation.
- White – clarity, wholeness, purity, innocence, and simplicity
- Gold – wealth, prosperity, abundance, spirituality, higher ideals
- Silver – clairvoyance, personal transformation, the subconscious mind
- Purple – commitment, reverence, connecting with the divine, spiritual development, and higher consciousness
- Indigo – intuition, insight, wisdom, imagination, and clarity of thought
- Blue – communication, self-expression, inspiration, creativity, relaxation, trust, and devotion
- Turquoise – healing, independence, and protection
- Green – Love, forgiveness, compassion, inspiration, hope, dedication, and freedom
- Yellow – generosity, ethics, confidence, self-esteem, discipline, ambition, courage, inner power, and self-respect
- Orange – sexual energy, sensuality, happiness, friendship, the ability to survive the loss, and optimism
- Red – survival, safety, connection to the physical world, courage, family relationships, physical strength, and vitality
- Pink – loyalty, warmth, and empathy