The Practice of Meditation

Here are some suggested guidelines for the practice of meditation

Meditation

Good, useful, beneficial meditation requires regular practice, and the results accrue over time and with perseverance.

I’m not writing here about listening to a guided mediation piece with someone talking hypnotically, or playing soft music and tuning out, or going for a run, or walking with the dog, although people often say they get the same benefits. One needs to look at what one is doing with the practice.

The kind of mediation described here could start with some guided spoken introduction, as in the recordings on this site (see below), but the aim would be to then conduct the meditation without any aids, and then, later on, to not have any external stimulus.

A recommended practice

The location

Find a comfortable, quiet place where you know you won’t be interrupted, including not by animals (you can be a magnet for a cat, who will want to sit on your lap and purr loudly!).

Have an upright sort of chair, not some deep armchair where sleep is more tempting. The chair would need a good back support. A small cushion can help, such as one that supports the small of your back.

Practiced meditators often have a dedicated room for the purpose, perhaps with special objects from their spiritual tradition, if they have one, with heating for winter in colder climates.

Time and frequency

One could start with 10 minutes a day, increasing to say 20 minutes and then to half an hour. You might want to do it at first once a day, but people often do it twice a day, or have one expanded session a day. One can expand the time according to what is desired, like say 40 minutes or an hour, or just keep it at half an hour.

Morning at dawn is a good time, as in the photo!

Every day! That way you can start to feel the benefit. Gaps between meditations tend not to encourage the regularity that works. With a regular practice you can more easily slip into the mediation. It’s like you’ve picked up from last time.

How to sit

You can sit reasonably upright, which can help limit the tendency to sleep.

You could adopt one of the classic poses, such as the lotus pose that one sees in lots of photos, including some of the ones below, with perhaps the hands in chin mudra, which requires sitting on the floor, usually with a cushion. One can also get special low level meditation seats.

You can however simply sit upright in your chair with your hands resting in your lap, one on top of the other, facing upwards, which is what I do.

Starting your meditation

Close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Breathe in deep, through your nostrils, and down to the diaphragm so that your lower abdomen rises a bit. That’s where some deeper peace can be found. Breathe out long. Then return to a steady rhythm of breathing.

You can also imagine yourself breathing into any tense muscles and that the breath is relaxing them.

Pay attention to your breathing, its steady rhythm, the air coming in through your nose and out again. You can notice the sensation as the air comes in, and out again.

Imagine that as you breathe in, you are taking your awareness within. You could visualise the awareness taking you for example to your heart centre in the middle of the chest.

You could rest like that, simply breathing – and being aware. At peace.

It’s a discipline

It’s a discipline, closing your eyes, breathing deeply and then gently and steadily, focusing on the breath, taking your awareness within, finding a quiet place. Sitting still, calmly, relaxed. Being present.

Learn to not make an issue over your thoughts. Learn to be the watcher of your thoughts, rather than the thinker. It’s about stepping back from thoughts and being with them. Gradually they can fade into the background.

You might also have “busy thinking days” (Lots of people do!). The art is to not be attached to the thoughts but learn to let them go and bring your awareness back to your breath – and keep doing that. It’s a practice.

This is all about letting go of doing, and “getting it right” and all that stuff, which is often the Ego at work, and instead just being.

Gradually you can enjoy more and more the inner stillness and contentment that gradually builds with the practice.

Meditation using the breath

Meditation using the breath

A guided process into meditation using the breath

Meditation with a mantra

Guided process into meditation using a mantra

Meditation using body awareness

Meditation using body awareness

Guided process into meditation using body awareness