Incorporating yoga into your lifestyle will, for sure, improve your well-being ten times fold. Mainly because your mind and body are learning to be in a constant concentration and in a total relaxed state, which is both essential in achieving a meditation practice.
The practice of meditation enables you to experience what nothing else can offer you— it deepens your awareness and understanding of your inner being.
According to most yogis, “the mind alone is the cause of bondage and liberation.” With this idea, the meditative practices are being introduced to help calm an agitated mind and promote self-awareness as it clears mental turbulence, through balancing, and refining, which then paves the way to the true nature of ourselves.
The question now is, are you a beginner who’s been wanting to know more of meditation and see how to perform a successful one?
If yes, this is the best place for you because, in nine easy steps, you can achieve a successful meditation to ensure the progress of understanding your inner-being. And eventually, experience the surprising benefits that your body can get as you continue grasping the meditative practice and begin a practice of your own!
But before that, let us first learn the necessary information in meditation 101: a brief guide for beginners….
Meditation 101: Brief Guide for Beginners
If you begin to get ‘too involved’ with the inevitable daily flow of outer disturbance, your inner balance may be disturbed, making your natural serenity turn into an agitated state. On the other hand, if your inner-being remains in a calm state and undisturbed, there’s this kind of energy from yourself that can radiate. As the famous sage Patanjali stated: “the self abides in its nature”. If we learn how to meditate, we will then find our true self radiating beneath that mayhem.
What is Meditation
In the dictionary, meditation defines as to think deeply or focus one’s mind for some period, with the help of chanting or in silence, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation. In other words, to reflect upon, contemplate, ponder, or merely the action of meditating. It may also denote a devotional exercise of contemplation for a philosophical nature.
Meditate is derived from the Latin word meditari that means “to think or consider”, med being the root word means “to take appropriate measures.”
In our culture, meditation may be expressed in several ways. For example, you might consider meditating a plan of action towards the future of your family. Or after watching a movie or a theatre play, you may be touched by it, and meditate upon the moral issues that will better your perspective in today’s generation.
However, in the yogic context, “meditation” is generally known as dhyana, or the seventh limb of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’s and is defined as the state of pure consciousness. If you mastered dhyana while incorporating to the other limbs such as the pyatyaharas, your breathwork, and dharana, your concentration. You will most likely reach the last limb, which is the samadhi, the enlightenment, or the state of being ecstatic.
At the center of meditation practice lies two abilities that walk side by side. The first one is the concentration, the ability to rest your attention on a focus. The other one is the mindfulness, the ability to focus, no matter what you are doing at that moment. These two are inseparable in working together to create a bright and one-fixated mind.
In concentration meditation, it entails your breath work, repeating a single word or mantra, focusing on one single point, listening to a particular repetitive sound, or counting beads on a mala. Putting your mind in a total focus is a challenging thing to achieve.
A beginner will most likely meditate for only a few minutes and then strive for longer durations, or worse, may find concentrating very difficult.
With that being said, you can refine your concentration in four steps. (1) Place your awareness on the breath in the nostrils with no sound. (2) Put your consciousness on the breathing along with the sound you make. (3) Again, rest your awareness on the sound of breath with only the merest attention of your breathing. (4) Lastly, put your consciousness on a personal mantra that transcends your breathing technique. On the other hand…
Through mindfulness meditation, you can observe how your thoughts and feelings move in a particular pattern. As time goes by, you can become more conscious of the human tendency to judge one specific experience, whether it may be good or bad, pleasant or otherwise. If correctly done, your inner being will be in a more balanced state.
Moreover, in mindfulness meditation, it encourages you to become more aware of your wandering thoughts as they drift around through your mind. The goal is not to get involved with the feeling and asses them, but to become aware of each mental point as it arises.
In some meditation practices, students tend to combine concentration and mindfulness meditation. Many practitioners call for steadiness— to a greater or lesser degree; it depends on the teacher. Here are the best techniques in achieving a successful mediation….
Techniques to Meditate
Various meditation techniques will help you become an efficient and effective student. In the first phase of meditation is to put your attention on a specific object, with eyes either opened or closed. Quietly repeating a word or mantra, and visualizing an image of deity are commonly recommended techniques to focus. Moreover, perceiving or counting your breath works and noticing your bodily sensations are also optional focal points.
1. Bodily sensations
Your bodily sensations are very critical in performing a meditation. One sudden movement may trigger your stillness and become disturbed. In this section, you will observe a particular sensation that draws your attention, such as how hot or cool your hands may feel over time.
The increasing awareness you gain due to the postures you do may cause you other points to focus on: the gracefulness you feel in your upper body, for example.
Recognizing a feeling or any specified area of discomfort may also trigger your steadiness. Whatever you may choose will remain as a point of focus for the whole duration of practice.
You may find that observing your bodily sensations can be ‘more challenging’ than keeping track of your breathwork. Because for most beginners, mantras, chants, and the use of imagery offer more possible ways to better or calm the scattered thoughts of your mind.
Making your breathwork as your focus may also do the trick. You may do this by counting your breaths, observing the breath as it is, without modifying it in any way. In this state, your breathing pattern becomes the focus of your meditation.
You will observe your breath and each sensation it makes: what it does to your abdomen and torso, how it feels as it goes in and out of your nostrils, its temperature, and so on. Though you may be fully aware of all these deets, you don’t get curious or asses them in any way; you remain focused on what you are feeling.
What you are seeing is neither good nor bad; you make yourself comfortable to be one with your breathwork from moment to moment.
Acknowledging your breathwork is the primary technique used by some practitioners of vipassana or generally known as the “insight” or “mindfulness meditation” as vipassana means “to see clearly,” may
also be expressed to “the place where the heart dwells,” and supports
the idea that the drive of emotion arises out of our hearts.
3. Using of sound
Uniting your bodily sensations to your breathwork with a mantra is vital in achieving a proper meditation. Mantra is used in most yogic exercises because it works as a sound that takes the form of a word or sometimes a group of words.
Mantra is derived from a combined Sanskrit term man means “to think” (and the source of the English term “man”, a creature who is able to think), and tra means “to protect, guide, or lead”.
A mantra may be chanted loudly, or recited quietly, although it’s not most effective when it’s already repeated in mind for some time without feeling it. The internal repetition calms your mind and refines your concentration.
The majority of the beginners believe that using a mantra in their meditation practice is useful and comfortable. On the other hand, chanting may be intimidating for some people at first. Although chanting in Sanskrit is “empowering,” reciting a powerful prayer or affirmation in any language can also be useful.
4. Using of imagery
Picturing a particular object may also be the best way to meditate as per beginners often recommend this technique because it’s easier than the others. Generally, a person who meditates, visualizes his or her chosen deity— it may be a god or goddess and in detailed features.
Any object is also valid. Some practitioners visualize an object such as a ball or the mountains, for example. Others also meditate on their chakras (the energies lying in your body).
In a meditation on your chakra focuses on a particular area or organ of the body that corresponds to a specific chakra, and visualizing the specific color associated with it is essential.
Meditation For Beginners: How to do it
Below is the brief steps on achieving a successful meditation for beginners and the pros. Let’s learn how to meditate!
1. Make yourself comfortable as you develop a still and steady posture.
2. Incorporate the flow of your breathwork into your awareness. Don’t concern yourself with the way it is—allow to soften your lower ribs and abdomen. Avoid feeling the sudden movements of the breath from moment to moment.
3. Refine your breathwork (if still not enough). Then, let it be deep and smooth. Let it be without a sound and pause. Let it flow without effort.
4. Relax your body as you do your breathwork as you release the tension that your body may feel. Then breathe again as if the whole body breathes.
5. In a crossed-legged sitting position, put your focus to your breathwork in the nostrils. Be still as you gradually increase your focus, detaching from each passing unwanted thoughts.
6. Allow lengthening the time spent with your focus on your breathwork. Do not condemn distracting thoughts; let them be.
7. Relax your mind further as you resonate with the sound you make—the mantra — together with your breathwork. Allow the sound of the mantra effortlessly flow while you breathe.
8. Focus your awareness in the sound where it arises in your mind, with only the merest of your breathwork.
9. Rest in the mantra and the middle of your being, making your thought and chakra (energy) to come and go, respectively. The waves may feel like they are around the center, as you are relaxing and smoothly dwelling in the presence of your being.
Remember to relax and do not be shaken or discouraged by how normally your thoughts may wander. If you realized that your mind has become distracted or disturbed, simply go back to your chosen point of focus and start over. You may maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes, and then try again for more extended periods. With that being said, here are the few guidelines in practicing a meditation to help you become more efficient as a beginner:
How to Know If It’s Working
As a beginner, you might feel uncomfortable meditating— sitting for a few minutes may cause your legs irritated and cramps, walking may bring up feelings of weariness, and reclining poses may cause you sleepiness. Relax. Doing a meditation should not make you feel physically uncomfortable and unreasonably stressed.
But if it does, you may lessen the period of your practice time or change your pose from reclining to sitting and sitting to standing, for example. If that doesn’t do the trick, you may go back to incorporate a meditation practice into your yogic postures instead of settling onto a formal training. After a day or two, you may return to your regular meditation method.
If you continue having difficulty in your meditation practice, you may need to seek guidance from a proficient teacher or need the support from a group that meets religiously to meditate altogether. Signs of your progress, with or without the need of a teacher or group, are the feeling of mental balance and physical comfort, and the state of being appreciative in all of your experiences.
Meditation Postures & Benefits
There are several meditating postures, which when correctly performed, makes the mind and body healthy as it collects and distributes the subtle chakras (energies) throughout your body and eventually experience the surprising benefits of meditation practice. Let’s take a closer look at it..
4 Different Postures of Meditation
Meditation practice requires thorough preparation. You do not sit, walk, stand, or even lie down and enter your most profound state. Since physical discomfort and mental disturbance may intertwine, the first step in calming your mind is to quiet your body. Here are the most common postures that help you to be in a deep state and meditate.
Admittedly, you can meditate or become fully aware of any activity or position of balance; sitting is the most well-known and recommended posture. There are a number of seated poses, and these include the relaxed pose or sukhasana, the auspicious pose or svastikasana, the sitting on a chair or maitryasana, and if you’re flexible enough you can do the lotus pose or padmasana.
2. Lying Down
Lying down may be associated with relaxation, but the corpse pose or also known as savasana, is used for meditation purposes. A lying meditation, although more physically reposeful than the other postures, it entails a higher degree of attentiveness to remain awake and focused during the whole period. Consequently, beginners may find this posture more challenging to meditate because of resisting falling asleep.
Standing meditation is said to be very empowering. It is highly recommended for those students who seek to improve their physical, mental, and spiritual growth. In standing meditation, you stand with your feet hip to shoulder distance apart. Your lower body is soft, and arms rest comfortably at your side.
Notice that the whole body is aligned and in good posture: shoulders rolled back and down, chest open, the features fo the neck popping out ad your head floating on top and your chin parallel to the ground. Either keep your eyes open or slightly close them.
Teachers highly recommend meditation in motion because it may be an enjoyable option for most of the beginners. The catch of this form is to stroll and to be aware of each step you make. Your destination, the distance, and the pace are all incidental. Relax your body, and naturally move as you incorporate your breathwork with your steps.
For example, you might breathe in and breathe out every three steps you make. Or, if that feels uncomfortable, you can breathe freely. However, you may practice walking meditation anywhere, choose a place that interests you the most— the hillside, the ocean, or an overview of the whole city. Put in mind that reaching your destination is not the goal; it is the act of walking itself that becomes your meditation.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation practice teaches you how to manage stress by reducing it and enhances your overall physical and emotional well-being. Moreover, it can improve the quality of your life by making you fully aware, alert, and alive. It is a celebration of your self in a nutshell. You don’t learn meditation to get anything, but instead to figure out and let go of anything that doesn’t do you good.
Here’s the summary of the benefits of meditation:
Although, recent studies have found out that most of the benefits you can get in meditation are for short-term only. On the other hand, contemporary researchers are now studying whether a consistent practice holds long-term benefits, noting the positive effects on the brain and bodily function among meditators. Nevertheless, it’s worth reminding that the purpose of meditation practice is not to experience these benefits but rather than to be simply in the present.
In Buddhist literature, the optimal benefit of meditation is to liberate the mind from being attached to the things it cannot control— external experiences or strong emotions, for example. The liberated or an “enlightened” student may no longer follow his/her desires nor cling to the past circumstances. But instead, be in a state of a calm mind and sense of inner-conformity.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it! It is safe to say that you already have a knowledge of what and how to meditate—all the necessary information, steps, guidelines, and even tricks to pull off a meditation practice. You now also know why most of the yogis and some do highly recommend a period of daily meditation!
You may add it to the end of your yogic exercises, or set aside another block of time. Ultimately, the goal is that you find your self a time that works best for you. Remember to relax and avoid doing too much too soon; there’s a tendency to get discouraged and stop altogether. If you still find it hard to meditate, you can always ask guidance from the proficient teacher to better your performance more than ever. Namaste, and see you on the next blog!