How To Meditate – For Beginners
This site will help you learn how to meditate. Meditation has been scientifically proven to be healthy for people. The type of meditation I am going to start out teaching you straight away is "meditation on the breath".
Learning how to meditate does not require that you affiliate with any particular philosophy or religion. Christian leaders have been known to meditate. There is some evidence that Jesus meditated. Of course we all know that the Buddha taught meditation. The fact is most religions have taught that meditation is worthwhile. At the same time, it is not necessary to be affiliated with a religion to meditate. Atheists and agnostics find benefit from meditating too.
Meditation, for the most part, is mostly about quieting the mind.
Once the mind is quiet, there can be various benefits but the first step is to just learn to quiet the mind. If insights or observations come along with it, so be it. But just quieting the mind has its own benefits and it is the first step in meditation, so that's where we'll start!
Here is my own explanation of How To Meditate, based on years of practice and lots of reading of different teachers.
TRY IT FOR YOURSELF NOW! TODAY! You'll be glad you did.
How To Meditate: Watching Your Breath
Assume a relaxed but stately position. It is best with your eyes closed and your back straight, and feet on the floor, though any position will work as long as you are not prone to falling asleep.
Close your eyes as you start to relax. Take a deep breath in, then breathe out, slowly, emptying your lungs entirely. Then take another full, deep, complete breath in, and out. Do this 3 to 7 times - as you wish - and then let yourself settle into a normal breathing pattern.
From this point forward, do not try to control your breathing, just let it happen naturally. Just continue to breathe naturally and pay attention to it, focus on it, without attempting to control or change it.
Allow your breathing to take on its own natural, unhurried pace. And as thoughts enter your mind, just let them go without thinking about them.
Let me expand a little on this point:
Normally in daily life if a thought occurs to you, you will often follow that thought, add to it, maybe take it to some kind of conclusion. But in meditation we do not want to give power to our thoughts at all. Instead we want to just notice them and then let them go.
It's kind of like leaves floating down a stream. Imagine each thought that comes into your head is a leaf floating by. Instead of grabbing it and examining it (thinking about it), we are just going to notice it floating by and just let it go; then notice the next thought floating by and let that one go; and so on and so forth. Here comes a leaf (a thought) about work. "Oh yeah, that meeting we had today..." And you could go on thinking about that meeting for many minutes. But in this case, because you're meditating you're just going to let that thought about the meeting float on by, without giving it any further consideration at all. "Oh, there's that leaf floating by, about that meeting. Oh well, I can think about it later, but for now, I'm just going to let it go..."
Then there can be a sort of short-hand for the above process that goes something like this as you begin to meditate:
"At the meeting today when Janet said ...
Not now. Let it go"
"There's another thought! Let it go!"
"Oops! I caught myself thinking. That's okay. Let it go for now..."
After a while when you recognize you are thinking, you can just label it: "Thought!" and then just as quickly remind yourself: "Not now."
Or "Thought. Let it go."
The idea is that you will always have thoughts and that is normal and natural so you need not beat yourself up about having thoughts while you are "trying to meditate". No need for scolding. Just recognize you've begun to follow a thought. Then let it go and return your focus to your breath.
What you will find is that over time, by practicing this way, you will begin to have less thoughts during meditation.
You will one day be at peace for perhaps 2 minutes and suddenly you have a thought and you realize, “Wow, I hadn’t had a thought for a couple minutes there!” And you will feel good because the mind enjoys taking a rest from thoughts. And science has proven that it is healthy! But we’ll talk about that later.
Over time that 2 minutes of peace without thinking will become 5 minutes, and the 5 minutes will become 10 minutes, and so on.
BOX: After awhile you will begin to find meditation much easier because:
- you are accustomed to not thinking during meditation, and
- you enjoy giving your mind a rest from thoughts, and
- you begin to realize that this is helping you relax and feel better and handle stress better when you are NOT meditating
At first just try to meditate as above, watching your breath going in and out only, and putting thoughts aside, for 2-3 minutes. You will be amazed how hard this is! You may find it “too hard”. Don't worry, just keep practicing and after several sessions you will find it easier, I promise!
What you are perceiving as “too hard” is just the normal reaction to realizing that we have SO MANY thoughts going by every moment of our lives, that it seems overwhelming when you actually sit down and close your eyes and notice them!
But remember that this isn’t a competition, it’s just an exercise. They call meditation “practice” because it does require practice. Just like learning to play a new game or riding a bicycle learning how to meditate takes practice. But like learning to swim or ride a bike, it is also very rewarding and enjoyable once you get the hang of it.
So at first you fall off the bike and can’t seem to discard or put aside your thoughts for even one minute. That’s okay! It’s to be expected. Try again later today or tomorrow.
Just notice the thoughts and be amazed by them, by how many there are, and how persistently they want your attention! It’s almost as if they have a mind of their own!
At first that is your only goal: Just notice your thoughts as they interfere with your focusing on your breathing and let them go, without scolding yourself or cursing the deluge of thoughts.
Then, little by little after a few sessions or maybe it may take half a dozen sessions, you will notice that you ARE able to let them go, and slow down the parade of your thoughts. If it helps think of them as a parade. You’re standing there watching the parade of your thoughts:
There’s one about work
There’s one about my girl friend
There’s one about my friend
There’s one about my back itching
There’s one about feeling restless
And so on...
Whether you want to think of them as going by in a parade, or as leaves floating by in a creek, or as clouds going by on a cloudy day… it doesn’t matter, the point is to just notice the thoughts, and then continue to bring your attention back to your breath.
If you truly want to receive the many benefits of meditation (and I have to assume that’s why you’ve arrived here at this site) then you just have to begin. Why not begin… right…
(Just go back to the top of this page and refresh your memory about the technique and then JUST DO IT. And see what happens.
After awhile you and your mind will look forward to its respite from thinking!
And so you've just learned one method of how to meditate!
I think this is the easiest way to learn and you can do it wherever you are (though I don't recommend it when driving! :-D ) But if you try this a few times and it really isn't working for you, don't worry, I have other methods to teach you that you might like better! There are guided meditations, meditations on a flame, body meditations, loving kindness meditation and so on. So if you want to learn how to meditate a different way, just check the menu item above for "Types of Meditation"!
Here is a video that will guide you in the manner I have given you above. This is not a video I have created so it may differ a little but it will give you the basic idea in a guided fashion.
You may find this helpful until you are more adept at doing it on your own without a guide. Once you are ready to go it alone, please refer to my instructions on HOW TO MEDITATE, above, to get the most out of your meditations!