Day 22

Meditation and learning how to

Newcomers to meditation often feel intimidated. They imagine a monk sitting in lotus pose for hours on end atop a mountain. But the reality is that meditation is much easier and accessible than most people realize.

Here is a simple 10 step beginner’s guide to meditation:

1. Sit tall
The most common and accessible position for meditation is sitting. Sit on the floor, in a chair or on a stool. If you are seated on the floor it is often most comfortable to sit cross-legged on a cushion. Comfort is key. Now imagine a thread extending from the top of your head, pulling your back, neck and head straight up towards the ceiling in a straight line. Sit tall.
2. Relax your body
Close your eyes and scan your body, relaxing each body part one at a time. Begin with your toes, feet, ankles, shins and continue to move up your entire body. Don’t forget to relax your shoulders, neck, eyes, face, jaw, and tongue which are all common areas for us to hold tension.
3. Be still and silent
Now that you are sitting tall and relaxed, take a moment to be still. Just sit. Be aware of your surroundings, your body, the sounds around you. Don’t react or attempt to change anything. Just be aware.
4. Breathe
Turn your attention to your breath. Breathe silently, yet deeply. Engage your diaphragm and fill your lungs, but do not force your breath. Notice how your breath feels in your nose, throat, chest, and belly as it flows in and out.
Read more: Stop & Breathe
5. Establish a mantra
A mantra is a sound, word or phrase that can be repeated throughout your meditation. Mantras can have spiritual, vibrational and transformative benefits, or they can simply provide a point of focus during meditation. They can be spoken aloud or silently to yourself. A simple and easy mantra for beginners is to silently say with each breath, I am breathing in, I am breathing out.
6. Calm your mind
As you focus on your breath or mantra, your mind will begin to calm and become present. This does not mean that thoughts will cease to arise. As thoughts come to you, simply acknowledge them, set them aside, and return your attention to your breath or mantra. Don’t dwell on your thoughts. Some days your mind will be busy and filled with inner chatter, other days it will remain calm and focused. Neither is good, nor bad.
9. When to end your practice
There is no correct length of time to practice meditation, however when first beginning it is often easier to sit for shorter periods of time (5 to 10 minutes). As you become more comfortable with your practice, meditate longer. Set an alarm if you prefer to sit for a predetermined length of time. Another option is to decide on the number of breaths you will count before ending your practice. A mala is a helpful tool to use when counting breaths.
8. How to end your practice
When you are ready to end your practice, slowing bring your conscious attention back to your surroundings. Acknowledge your presence in the space around you. Gently wiggle your fingers and toes. Begin to move your hands, feet, arms, and legs. Open your eyes. Move slowly and take your time getting up.
9. Practice often
Consistency is more important than quantity. Meditating for 5 minutes every day will reward you with far greater benefits than meditating for two hours, one day a week.
10. Practice everywhere
Most beginners find it easier to meditate in a quiet space at home, but as you become more comfortable, begin exploring new places to practice. Meditating outdoors in nature can be very peaceful, and taking the opportunity to meditate on the bus or in your office chair can be an excellent stress reliever.
Meditation is a simple, effective and convenient way to calm your busy mind, relax your body, become grounded and find inner peace amidst the chaos of day-to-day life. Begin meditating today and reap the rewards. (http://stopandbreathe.com/2011/03/04/meditation-101-a-10-step-beginners-guide/)

I’m sure you’ve also heard a lot about mindfulness. According to John Kabat-Zinn, one of the chief exponents of this Buddhist practice, mindfulness is “the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts, and sensations occurring in the present moment.”
But the way I like to think about it is this. Mindfulness is the art and science of paying complete attention to the one thing you’re doing in any given moment. Of course, paying attention only ever happens right now, so learning this art grounds you in the present moment like nothing else.
And it’s important to remember that mindfulness and meditation are two sides of the same coin. Another way to define mindfulness is meditation in action. You can bring the calm and focused attention you cultivate in meditation to everything you do—and that’s mindfulness. A strong meditation practice will imbue your attention and your actions with mindful presence.

Here is a short list of free and focused awareness techniques.
Mantra Meditation: In this focused awareness practice you silently repeat a word or a phrase over and over again, keeping your mind trained on that one word.
Moving Meditation: Tai Chi and Qigong are two of the most popular forms of moving meditation. In these focused awareness practices, you use a combination of visualization, movement, and focus to draw chi or life force into your body and mind. For many people who easily get into The Zone, running is a form of moving meditation. Yoga and walking can also be forms of moving meditation when you practice them with mindful awareness.
Counting Your Breath: One of the simplest and most effective focused awareness techniques, this practice requires you to simply count each cycle of your breath. You simply stay focused and relaxed while you count each breath to 10, 50, or 100, and then start over again.
Vipassana Meditation: Vipassana is a free awareness practice in which you observe all the sensations that arise in your body and the thoughts that emerge in your mind. You aren’t focused on any one thing, sensation or thought, rather you’re letting everything pass across the screen of your awareness without reacting to it. You simply observe, note, and let it pass on by.
Guided Meditations: Guided meditations are a popular way to start learning meditation. These come in all shapes and sizes—from peaceful music and chanting to visualizations and gentle relaxation instructions. Guided meditations are a great way to kick-start your practice and get used to the experience of meditation. More seasoned guides can give you very deep experiences.

One common myth about meditation is that you shouldn’t have any thoughts while you practice. This is not true. The goal of meditation is to learn how to be at ease no matter what’s happening in your mind. Meditation is training how to be calm and relaxed even when your mind is freaking out.
One of the biggest reasons people fail at meditation is because you think your mind should be completely quiet or that you can’t stop your thoughts. By far the most common thing I hear from new meditators is that they can’t meditate because they have a busy mind that won’t calm down.
So yes, your mind may go silent at different times during your meditation. And that’s a beautiful and important experience. But you’re going to have tons of different experiences when you meditate, and it’s important to remember that meditation isn’t supposed to feel any particular way. It’s all about accepting things as they are without trying to change them. (https://aboutmeditation.com/beginners-guide-to-meditation-tips-benefits-techniques/)

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