In order to learn how to meditate, it is essential to understand the meditation basics. The art of meditation involves using such techniques that calm the mind and bring it in a state of ease with itself. Once you know how to meditate, you can access this inner source of bliss any time and anywhere.
The basic goal of all types of passive meditation techniques is to gradually quieten and still the mind; and bring it from its regular pattern of distracting thoughts towards a state of non-wavering and one-pointed awareness.
Although there are many types of meditation techniques, here is a type of basic meditation technique that can be done by anyone.
Here are a few meditation basics that you need to know in order to learn how to meditate --
1) When to Meditate?
Take out some time from your daily routine and allocate it for meditation. The benefits of meditation are significantly enhanced when you practice meditation consistently and regularly, rather than in sporadic periods of time.
Choose a time in your daily routine when you are the least likely to be disturbed. Try to start meditating for a period of 15-45 minutes to see the full benefits of meditation.
Although once you learn how to meditate, you can practice it at any time of the day. However, initially it is helpful to do the meditation in the morning time, as the body is fresher and the mind is also clear of other thoughts. Some people like to meditate in the night before sleeping, in order to clear their mind. Both the times are quite appropriate and beneficial.
It is better to avoid meditation immediately after meals or at a time when you are hungry. This is because both feelings - whether intense hunger or a feeling of "heavy stomach" after meals, can be quite distracting while meditating.
2) Environment for Meditation
As you learn to meditate, it is important that you practice it in a calm and relaxed environment. For beginners of meditation, it is essential to avoid as many obstacles that may come in the meditation practice as possible.
For example, switch off the TV, phone, etc. as they might distract you right in the middle of meditation. Meditating at an outside place can be helpful, provided that it is not noisy.
Choose a place where there is a sufficient circulation and inflow of fresh air. Meditating at the same place every day is also helpful to bring the meditative state more easily and quickly.
3) Meditation Posture
Ideally, meditation is done in a sitting posture on the ground. You can also use a cushion or pillow to make the meditation experience as comfortable and beneficial as possible.
You can sit in cross-legged posture. It is not necessary to sit in the lotus posture. But, make sure to keep your spine straight and erect. Meditating in an erect posture is very conducive and helpful in achieving high states of awareness and concentration for long duration of time.
You can also sit on a chair for meditation. Make sure to keep your back straight and erect. You can either lean back on the chair or sit freely. Keep your feet firmly situated on the ground.
You can also meditate in the lying down posture, provided that your spine is erect. But, there is the risk of falling asleep while you meditate in the lying down posture.
4) Witnessing - The Art of Meditation
Notice the flow of thoughts. Don't try to control which thoughts should come in your mind and which thoughts shouldn't. Observe the passing thoughts passively with a sense of detachment. It might seem a bit difficult in the beginning as you learn how to meditate, but it shall soon become a joyful experience.
Be a witness of the thoughts. You will notice that your mind wanders from one thought to another and makes observations about various things. The purpose of meditation is to gradually fade off this constant "chattering" going on in the mind.
Find an "anchor" on which you can place your awareness. This is needed to calm your mind. You can focus on the flow of breath going in and out or you can focus your awareness on the sensations arising in your body. Find out what is more comfortable and easy for you to place your awareness on.
By focusing on the flow of the breath and being non-judgmental, the chattering of the mind slows down and your awareness and perception of the reality improves. Your breathing also slows down and deepens, and your mind becomes more quiet and calm.
Mantra meditation or chanting of a mantra such as "Aum" in a steady rhythm is also a very effective means to lead the mind to a state of concentration. Initially it is helpful to utter it verbally and later on it can be repeated non-verbally in the mind itself.
But you should be careful and maintain awareness during this process of chanting. It should not become like a robotic activity. Building up of awareness is the prime objective of meditation and chanting may be used to raise our level of concentration and awareness.
In a few days and a couple of weeks of meditation, you shall notice significant improvement and a marked difference in your ability to concentrate and focus. You shall achieve a greater clarity of vision, awareness and a state of calm and bliss throughout the day. You will also enjoy an improved health and a relaxed and stress-free state of mind.