A Beginners Guide to Meditation

Our lives are becoming more and more frantic, leaving us little room to stop and smell the roses.  Technology is revolutionizing every aspect of our lives and today we are able to do the things that could have only been dreamed of just a few decades ago.  However, one of the things we are losing very rapidly is inner peace and tranquility.  If you ask people about the ways to achieve inner peace and tranquility, you will get all sorts of answers, from the very philosophical to the truly absurd.  However, there is one tried and tested method for finding tranquility that has been around for centuries. Of course, that technique is meditation.
In this article, you will find some great information for beginning your journey into meditation.

What is Meditation?

The term meditation has different meanings for different people.  Let’s take a look at two different definitions:

According to the website The Buddhist Center:

Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. Buddhist meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things. By engaging with a particular meditation practice you learn the patterns and habits of your mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being.

Also, according to Free Meditation:

It is a state of profound, deep peace that occurs when the mind is calm and silent, yet completely alert. This is just the beginning of an inner transformation that takes us to a higher level of awareness.

The Buddhist center: Here you will find some authentic information on meditation.

Meditation Basics: A detailed look at various aspects of meditation

Meditation-Psychology Today: Meditation information from an authentic source

Guided meditation: Provides an explanation of how and why to meditate

Meditation 101: Techniques, Benefits & Beginner’s How-to: Here you can learn why and how to meditate

Meditation - Mayo Clinic: Information from one of the most trusted healthcare resources on how you can easily learn to practice meditation whenever you are

Open Source Meditation: A free online meditation course for beginners

Headspace: Headspace is a gym membership for the mind. A course of guided meditation, delivered via an app or online.

Benefits of Meditation

Health benefits

  • Improved immunity from diseases
  • Significant decrease in stress levels
  • Decreased inflammation due to lower levels of stress
  • Increased positivity and self esteem
  • Decrease in depression and anxiety

Improvement in brain functions and self

  • Positive changes in the brain anatomy
  • Increase in the volume of areas that regulate emotions and self control
  • Increase in the volume of gray matter in the brain.
  • Better control on the emotions and improved self control.
  • Better focus and increased attention span
  • Improvement in memory
  • Increase in creativity

Brain's Response to Meditation: A detailed discussion of the results of various studies and papers to examine the effects of meditation on the brain.

Meditation Heals Body and Mind: Here’s how just 20 minutes a day spent meditating can improve health.

Benefits of Meditation: See the physical and mental benefits of meditation.

100 benefits of meditation: You may be skeptical but this site really gives 100 benefits of meditation.

The science behind meditation and headpsapce: This site shows how mindfulness meditation helps with stress, worry, lack of focus, relationship problems, addictions and more.

Transcendental Meditation benefits: This form of meditation allows your body to settle into a state of profound rest and relaxation and your mind to achieve a state of inner peace.

Meditation and your brain: This informative article on Forbes.com describes 7 Ways Meditation can actually change the brain.

Mental health benefits of meditation: Describes how meditation changes the structure of the brain in a good way.

How to Perform Meditation?

Find a comfortable sitting position

You may feel that you need to sit like the yogis and monks but that is not necessary.  Just find a comfortable position whether it is on a chair or on the floor.  Most people find it comfortable to sit on a cushion on the floor with the legs crossed.  The next important aspect of sitting is to sit straight with your head, neck and back in a straight line.

Relax your body

Before you can relax your mind, you must relax your body.  Just close your eyes and try to relax your body, one part one at a time.  Start with the toes and imagine that they are free of tension and slowly move up the body, releasing every part of tension especially shoulders and above.

Compose yourself

Once you are sitting in a comfortable position and your whole body is relaxed, just sit still for a short while and try to gain an awareness of your surroundings.

Breathe



This is perhaps the most important part of meditation.  There are several ways to breathe but as a beginner, just breathe slowly, smoothly and deeply.  Feel the fresh flow through your nose and filling your lungs.  The key is to do it slowly and smoothly and not forcing the air into your lungs.

Use a mantra



To achieve focus during meditation, it is suggested to use a mantra, which is a repetitive sound, word or phrase.  It doesn’t have to be anything specific, any word will do.  Its objective is to provide you with a point of focus.

Bring your mind at peace

Once your body is relaxed and attention focused on a point, your mind will start to become calm.  However, in the beginning, it is usually difficult because of a constant stream of un-regulated thoughts.  Don’t worry about this, and don’t try to push the thoughts out of your mind.  Just let them pass. 

Duration of meditation

There is no fixed length of time to meditate; in the beginning, it is difficult for most people to sit still in one place for an extended period of time.  Try to begin with a 10-15 minutes session and then gradually increase the duration. Once you start feeling the benefits, you will automatically increase the duration.

Ending the session

To end your session, start focusing your attention on your surroundings and prepare your body to step out of the meditative state by returning to normal breathing, moving your fingers, hands and feet.  Finally, open your eyes and slowly get out of the sitting position.

Open source meditation: The Meditation Society of Australia presents this easy-to-follow online course for beginning students of meditation.
Beginners guide to meditation: This video gives a basic beginners tutorial on meditation with a quick and easy 5 step method.
Meditation for People Who Don't Meditate: This 12 step guide is for people who are beginners and don’t know much about meditation.
Learn to Meditate in 6 Easy Steps: It is an easy six-step recipe for mantra meditation.
How to meditate in 10 easy steps: Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace, shares this easy-to-learn technique, designed to help you find clarity and calmness in your life.
5 Meditation Tips for Beginners: Here are five meditation tips for beginners that will help overcome the problems of lack of appeal and life seeming too daunting.
How to Meditate: 10 Important Tips: These 10 tips make starting to meditate easy.
8 Tips To Get Started With Meditation: These expert tips will help you get started with meditation.

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