Guide to Meditation
Written by Medium Renso Ryokan
A Beginner's Guide to Meditation
Meditation is elusive for many and I have been asked many times on where and how to begin. Common issues range from distraction, discomfort, fear, falling asleep, or just not being able to stop the mind from racing and random thought. These problems are what cause many to give up on meditation all together. They believe it is something they just cannot do. I am going to give a basic outline on where to begin when learning to meditate, and more importantly, things to be aware of in preparation. Like learning anything new it takes time, patience and practice. Despite what some feel, everyone is capable of achieving a meditative state with a proper mindset and environment.
Guide to Meditation First Step
First step is to establish the correct setting for meditation. This is often overlooked by many, but is extremely important to insure complete relaxation. Find a quiet and peaceful place where you know you will not be disturbed for a long duration of time. Turn off all phones, pagers or any other electronic devices that may disrupt you during your session. Many different schools of thought teach certain positions that they say you must sit in, but I have found that this is not necessarily true. You want to make yourself as comfortable as possible, and will not be able to completely relax for a long period of time while having body aches. Although it is important to be seated in an upright position. This will ensure you do not fall asleep and will also promote the circulation of energy throughout your body. Once you have your set environment and have found a nice comfortable sitting position, you are ready to move on to relaxation.
Guide to Meditation Second Step
Second step is to bring your mind and body into a relaxed state through breathing. This is another step that is often overlooked, but is absolutely essential. Many think meditation is just sitting down, closing your eyes and instantly meditation will begin. That is simply not the case. With all the mental and physical stresses we deal with in daily life, one must first prepare the body and mind for complete relaxation. To begin, start focusing on your breathing. In and out, keeping the same slow rhythm and concentrate on nothing else but the rhythm of your breaths. Taking air in let your belly expand and then contract on your exhale. Again, some schools of thought teach that breathing needs to be done in a certain pattern. Some teach inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth for example. I also believe this not to be the case. You need to breath in a way that feels comfortable and natural to you. Take your time on this part until you reach a point that the breath ing rhythm becomes natural. Soon your body will begin keeping this pace on its, own without concentration.
Guide to Meditation Third Step
Third step is to relax the body, one section at a time. Once your breathing is in perfect rhythm, it is time to start focusing on relaxing each part of the body. Start at your head down to your feet. Focus on your head and the muscles of your face. Be in tune with your expression and concentrate on relaxing every muscle. You may have a slight feeling of heaviness which is a good sign that you are becoming relaxed. From you head and face move down to your neck and shoulders. Again, focus on every muscle and let them become completely relaxed. Move down to your arms and chest, to your abdomen, then over your legs and down to your feet. Concentrate on every muscle as you move down your body slowly and feel the calm relaxation throughout your entire self. Take your time and enjoy this process because it feels wonderful and is a great exercise in itself. Once your breathing is set and your body is completely relaxed, you are ready to move on to the next step.
Guide to Meditation Fourth Step
Fourth step is visualization. This is great for beginners because of its simplicity and some even experience feelings of euphoria. Now that your environment and body are in a calm and peaceful state, we can now work with the mind. I like to teach the "sacred place" visualization to beginners because it seems to have a great deal of success and many enjoy it. When ready, see yourself in what will always be your sacred place. It can be somewhere you've been before or straight out of your imagination. Whether it be in a forest, a beach, the mountains, wherever you find the most peace. In your minds eye see and feel yourself there. You are alone here, but being your space there is nothing that could possibly harm you. No stress, fear, anxiety or negative emotions exist while you are here. You are in complete control of this environment and protected. See yourself there clearly, and then begin to feel your surroundings. Feel the heat of the sun, the brush of the wind and the ground beneath your feet. Take in the smells of the area, whether it be flowers, or the air of the ocean. Let yourself go and fully experience this place, which is yours and only yours.
If you follow these steps and reach the point of fully experiencing your sacred place, then you have achieved one of the many forms of meditation. When coming out you should feel refreshed, relaxed and energized. With time and regular practice this feeling will follow you into an awakened state of being, and can benefit you in many areas of your life. This is just a brief explanation on a meditative practice and how to prepare yourself for the experience. Remember, preparation is key and do not allow yourself to become discouraged by any distractions. Just ignore them and continue on. These things are natural and will pass as you become deeper in concentration. Once learned, other meditation practices that interest you will become much easier to adopt. Have faith in yourself and don't try to force the experience... Just completely relax and let it be.