Not all meditators have a higher state of consciousness as their goal. Some people meditate simply for relaxation, greater clarity, focus, creativity or a more peaceful frame of mind. Others meditate to improve their health. Many medical studies on meditation have proven that it offers countless psychological and physical benefits including improved health, reduced effects of aging, reduced stress and anxiety, lowered blood pressure and risk of stroke, increased intelligence and creativity, improved memory and learning ability, increased energy and sense of well-being, and improved function of the immune system..
How to Meditate
Meditation is a simple technique that has been taught for at least as far back as recorded history. Anyone can meditate effectively without taking an expensive meditation course. Meditation has been described as a technique which requires no preparation, is simple to do, and can be learned by anyone. Although I am sure that many meditation courses put their fees to very good use—helping to make others aware of the benefits of meditation worldwide and funding scientific studies proving the efficacy of meditation—it remains a fact that it is just not necessary to pay exorbitant fees, nor any fees for that matter, to effectively learn how to meditate. If you can afford to take a course from a qualified teacher, by all means do so. I recommend it. But after completing the lesson on this page you will, with consistent practice, be able to meditate just as effectively as anyone who has taken a meditation course.
How to Meditate:
Your single point of attention or “mantra”:
Your single point of reference or attention can be your breathing; an object, sensation or idea; or a syllable, word or phrase that you silently repeat over and over to yourself. The latter is known as a mantra. Below I will describe three points of attention that you can use. Choose any one of these three, and use that for your practice of meditation. Choose whichever one of the three that suits you the most. It doesn’t matter which one you use, as long as you use one of them. If you want, you can try each one for a week and then decide which one you like best. If you want to do this, I recommend that you try them in order as presented below. After having tried each one for a week, then decide which one you would prefer to use. If you can’t decide, then choose one anyway. It really doesn’t matter which one you choose:
Focus on your breathing:
Observe your breathing, as you inhale, and exhale. When your mind wanders just return your attention to your breathing. As you become more relaxed, your respiratory rate may slow down naturally, but don’t try to change your breathing. Just observe your breathing as your breath normally and naturally.
Focus on the “So-Hum” mantra:
This is a mantra that I learned from one of Deepak Chopra’s books and it is one that I recommend to you. If you know of another that you would prefer to use you may use that instead. As you inhale, silently say to yourself the syllable “Soooo” extending it the full length of your inhalation. Then as you exhale, silently say to yourself the syllable “Hummmmm” again extending it the full length of your exhalation. Keep your attention on this mantra throughout your meditation session, returning your attention to it every time you notice that your mind has wandered from it.
Focus on a point on the center of your forehead, between and just slightly above your eyebrows:
The point that I am talking about is located just slightly above the midpoint between the inner ends of your eyebrows. It is also known as the Ajna chakra and the “Third Eye” because it is associated with the pineal gland and intuition, or the ability to perceive that which the physical senses can not. The more we put our attention on something the stronger it becomes, so putting your attention on this point will increase your intuitive ability. The Ajna chakra is also known as the Master chakra, because it controls all the other chakras. When you begin your meditation session, firmly touch this point with your finger. Once you remove your finger you will notice that the residual sensation of the touch will remain on your forehead for a while. It is this sensation that is your point of attention. When you put your attention on this sensation it will grow stronger. With practice you will be able to feel this sensation quite strongly throughout the entire session. Do not keep touching this point, because you want to develop your ability feel it even without the sensation of touch. In fact, don’t touch it again after the initial touch at the start of each meditation session. If you no longer feel the residual sensation, then just imagine that you do. If you don’t feel anything, then just keep your attention on the point anyway. With continued practice you will get better at discerning this sensation. As with all meditation techniques, every time you notice that your mind has wandered from this point, just gently return your attention back to it again, and see if you can pick up the sensation again without touching the point again. After you become experienced with this technique, it will no longer be necessary to touch this point at the beginning of your meditation session. All you will have to do it put your attention there and you will feel the sensation.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How often? Meditate once or twice a day. For most people this means once in the morning and once in the afternoon or evening.
How long? Meditate for at least 20 minutes each session.
What if I don’t have time? Then make the time! There is little if anything that you could do with that time that would be more beneficial for your long-term happiness, success, fulfillment and well-being. The time you spend in meditation will be returned to you multiplied many times over, through increased energy, improved efficiency, better quality sleep, less sickness, etc.
What if I fall asleep during meditation? Treat falling asleep as another way of losing your point of attention or mantra. When you become aware of it, simply return your attention to your point again. However, realize that when you are sleeping you are not meditating, so it is not desirable to be falling asleep or dozing off during your meditation sessions. That is why you are not to meditate on your bed or while lying down. You do not want to associate meditation with sleep. Likewise, you should avoid meditating late in the evening or close to the time when your body is winding down for sleep. If you keep falling asleep during your meditation sessions, you are probably not getting enough good quality sleep at night. Allow yourself more time to sleep. If your sleep is often of a poor quality, you will find that in time your practice of meditation will lead to a much better quality of sleep, so hopefully dozing off during your meditation sessions will eventually cease.
What outcome should I be looking for? Don’t try to anticipate any outcome. You will do better if you will simply enjoy the journey, without anticipating the destination. Concern yourself only with being fully in the present moment. Each meditation session should be looked upon as an end in and of itself. Meditation gives you a perfect opportunity to practice the extremely powerful “Law of Least Effort“—i.e., the way to accomplish more is by doing less. The more we try to accomplish something, the more resistance we meet. All you need to do is meditate for 20 to 30 minutes once or twice a day, and your life will unfold naturally like the blooming of a lotus flower.
End of Lesson 16