How to Start Meditating

Meditation is practiced for a many reasons. Some people practice it to relieve or control stress and anxiety. Others wish to gain a greater awareness of their own self and the environment around them or they practice for religious or spiritual reasons. And still others practice meditation to relieve and control physical pain.

One ‘aim’ of meditation that comes from a Buddhist perspective says that meditation helps us gain a better understanding of our nature. This can be physically, mentally, or spiritually, and this happens by mindfully observing how we perceive what we take in through our senses. One is observing our observations you may say.

Many people who wish to start meditating do not know how to begin. I will address this question today. Meditation is an intensely personal experience, and what works for one may not work for the other. Recognize this when beginning your mediation practice. If something is not working for you, try something else. Find a technique that works for you, so you may begin your practice. Later in your practice, when you want to push yourself further, you can revisit techniques that did not work for you. Do not dismiss a technique forever if it did not work for you the first time. There are good reasons for the many techniques of meditation. Sometimes people find tremendous benefit from a technique that did not work well for them at the beginning of their practice.

One of the simplest techniques to begin meditating with is referred to as ‘just sitting’. The technical name is Zazen. It is practiced as follows:

  • Find a comfortable place to sit where you will not be disturbed by people or electronics. You can sit in a chair or cross legged on the floor. Make sure you are comfortable but sitting with good posture. Rest your hands on your lap and close your eyes. Begin breathing deeply. Get this into a natural breathing rhythm. Focus on your breath. When a through enters your mind, acknowledge it. Let it pass and turn your focus back to breathing.

Thoughts will come into your mind. This is natural and inevitable. Acknowledge the thoughts and let them pass. Do not become angry or frustrated.

Start by doing this technique for only ten minutes. Feel free to add more time if you feel this is too short. Practice once or twice a day every day.

A variation of the Zazen meditation technique is to do it with music. Calming music is your best bet (obviously!), and there are numerous cds and websites that will provide this type of music. I find some types of classical music work well.

Visiting a local meditation group can be very helpful when it comes to guided meditation and learning and trying new techniques. Social interaction is also very good for our minds. You may make some new friends.

You can find local meditation groups by doing a simple Google search. Some search terms to try include, ‘zen meditation group’, ‘Buddhist meditation group’, ‘life bliss foundation weekly satsangs’, and ‘eckhart tolle silent groups’. Be sure to do these searches with your locality in the search term. You can also join the website MeetUp.com and search ‘meditation’ for your local area. Be sure to do these searches with your locality in the search term.

One final technique to mention are recorded guided meditations. These can be found on the internet or for sale at many brick and mortar or eCommerce retailer. There are many to choose from. Some popular recordings have been done by Deepak Chopra and Nithya Dhyan. These are only a few. Check out some online forums or ask your friends that meditate for recommendations.

When you start a meditation practice, it is important to approach it with patience and the understanding that consistency will pay off. If you are having trouble in your practice, reach out to others that can help. Those that can help can be found in the places I recommend above or by turning to the meditation community on the internet.