A beginner’s guide to meditation

Once upon a time, there was a woodcutter who ventured into a dense jungle and happened to catch a monkey. He decided that he could earn his living by making the monkey perform tricks. Very soon, the monkey was a top entertainer and became so famous that the king invited the monkey to perform at his palace. After the show, the king was very pleased and rewarded the monkey with his pearl necklace. The monkey, not having seen anything like that before, ripped the precious necklace apart.

One such monkey exists in our minds too!

Even though you might train your mind to think in a certain way, there are more than 10,000 random thoughts crossing our mind each minute. Many of those thoughts might be constructive and several others, plain useless. Each of these thoughts also gives rise to many feelings – good, bad and ugly.

One of the ancient and powerful methods to give the monkey mind some rest is MEDITATION.

The purpose of meditation is to make our mind calm and peaceful. By meditating regularly, one can gain clarity and focus and achieve the one most difficult task – finding inner peace. Look at our previous article here.

There are hundreds of techniques of meditation, mentioned in our religious texts and scriptures, which were discovered very recently.

Meditation Techniques

Sitting in Silence – The Zen Method

The famous Japanese technique that helps empty the mind completely and create bliss. Sit in a calm spot in a comfortable position and do nothing. Close your eyes. Let all the thoughts pass by and don’t cling on to any thought. Slowly, the number of thoughts will reduce and you will find silence within you. Natural scenic spots like mountains, beaches, temples and gardens (with lesser people) help you achieve this faster.

Meditating Mantra – The Focus Method

Focusing on one object helps remove other thoughts. Chanting ‘OM’, or the name of your favourite God, using chanting beads and concentrating on the chant will create an image as well as a feeling of relief (if you are too stressed) or energized. Try to sit in a comfortable place and chant out aloud. You can also focus on your breathing to achieve the same effect. Multitasking and having several distractions might defeat the purpose of this technique.

Sense of Sight – The Visualization Method

Imagining natural and tranquil scenery of your choice (not people!) creates a feeling of bliss. Think of a favourite place you have visited or a pretty photograph you’ve seen – waterfalls, oceans, mountains, flower-fields, open skies and landscapes gives a feeling of freedom. Start thinking of yourself in that scenery and imagine details in the scene – colours, sound and textures.

Gang up – Group Meditation Method

Satsangs, bhajans, choirs are the simplest means of group meditation. Singing out aloud or chanting together in a group not only helps increase focus but also helps in regularizing the habit of meditating. Spiritual techniques claim that the positive energy generated in group mediation is much more powerful. Alternates are holding hands in a group and saying a prayer.

Points to remember:

  1. Wear comfortable clothes.
  2. Sit comfortably. Any discomfort will shift your focus to other things around you.
  3. Breathe like a baby – tummy out when you inhale and tummy in when you exhale. Breathe slowly and deeply.
  4. Start with meditating for 5 to 10 minutes and slowly increase the duration.
  5. Any action has a chance of becoming a habit only when it is done consistently (at least for 21 days)
  6. You’ll always be busy. Find time for yourself, even if it is 5 minutes out of 1440 minutes each day.
  7. The ideal time for meditation is early in the morning, before the others can get up and disturb you. If that is not possible, let your family/friends at home know your ‘meditation time’. Tell them how much time you’d like to yourself and lock that door. And yes, switch off that phone and the alarm clock!
  8. Find something to concentrate on – It could be a candle, your favourite deity’s picture or just a point on the wall.
  9. Never meditate on a full or empty stomach. Have a fruit 20 minutes before you meditate.
  10. Make sure you are adequately clothed and warm when you meditate. You don’t want to get up to pick up your woollens or switch on the AC in between the session,

Meditation is a great habit to pick up this new year. Start today and don’t look back!