May 13, 2017
When Seeking Meditation Techniques, Be Open to Thinking
There is an old joke… a man asks his friend how his son is doing since he has been unemployed. The friend says his son is doing better in his job search since he started meditating. The man then asks, “What is meditating?” and the reply comes back, “I don’t know but it beats sitting around doing nothing!”
It’s funny because meditation might look like just that; sitting around and doing nothing. In fact, there is a lot of effort required when you begin the challenge of retraining your mind. From the outside, it appears as though a person is sitting around and doing nothing.
The inner world, which we all have is not static. Meditation techniques are active processes of disciplining the mind and finding the benefits in having greater control over your thoughts. This is incredibly exciting! To have greater control of your mind will conserve a huge amount of energy. The question is, will you practice these meditation techniques?
Enthusiasm isn’t enough for the average person to learn meditation. You will need a strong commitment and a compelling reason to learn how to meditate. If these things are not there, when it gets tough or frustrating, most will allow those age old despairing thoughts to come in and convince you it’s not worth the effort. So consider why you want to learn and if you find it difficult, will you stick with it?
In order to get started on the right track, we strongly suggest taking a beginner’s meditation course. You really need meditation techniques that come from an experienced teacher. It is a rare individual who can watch a few free YouTube videos and really begin with a solid foundation. Your mind, your ego and your emotions are more likely to derail you.
At the same time, you might want to try a few sessions on your own before you invest in a course. At our Charleston meditation center (Meditate), each month we have new classes full of students eager to learn meditation techniques which they can practice right away. As such, here are our recommended meditation techniques for beginners that are easy, quick and enjoyable;
Meditation Techniques for Beginners
Begin with 20 minutes where you can sit uninterrupted and won’t be worried about rushing to do something else. If you have pets, take yourself to a room where they won’t disturb you. Meditation for the most part is a solitary experience.
Choose a comfortable chair to sit that isn’t to cushy nor too stiff. It should be quite comfortable and offer back support but not lend itself to you falling asleep (such as a Lazy Boy chair).
Sit in a conscious, deliberate posture. We suggest feet flat on the ground, knees close to 90 degrees. Have your back right up against the back of the chair so your back is straight but don’t go overboard and get too stiff. Always remember that your body must be comfortable. The goal is not to sit is a weird way and then force yourself to relax even if you feel strained. You’ll find meditation easier and more enjoyable if you feel comfortable (but not sleepy).
Let your hands rest naturally on your lap and close your eyes. As soon as you can, focus your attention on your breathing. Notice as you breath that your upper body is expanding and contracting. Keep it simple and just notice the movement of your body for maybe half a dozen breaths.
Next, shift your focus to your body and briefly tune into the various parts. Think about your feet and try to relax them. Then move to your calf muscles, thighs, hips. Then hands, wrists, arms, shoulders. Essentially go through your entire body and relatively quickly, try to relax the muscles consciously. This is often called a body scan. Visit this site to read about an entire meditation devoted to the body scan.
Once you have relaxed your body (about 6-10 minutes), then open to your thoughts. This might conflict with what you have heard other meditation teachers say. In our experience, you have to open to your mind and get to know it. This meditation technique for beginners works because you don’t avoid your mind but you take it on.
Explore your thoughts but don’t just let your mind run off in all directions. What makes this meditation real is that you will note the separation between you (the observer of your thoughts) and the thoughts themselves. This is the beginning of retraining the mind. Spend 5 minutes examining your mind and what it likes to do.
For the last couple of minutes, try this; choose something in your life that you want to think about (see this blog post for suggestions). Then concentrate your thinking on this one topic for 2 or 3 minutes. If your mind tries to throw another idea at you, reject it. Stay on task and see how it feels to think in this more conscious way. If you do this, believe it or not, you are meditating!