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Meditation Spirituality Yoga

Meditation 101 – A Beginner Guide for Meditation

Meditation has innumerable boons that can completely change our lives much beyond our expectations. As it has been presented by the yogis for centuries, it comes across as some kind of ambrosia that the human soul yearns for. It is an ecstatic and overwhelming sensation of mind that can only be explained by people who have experienced it. And in many cases, even experienced yogis fall short of words to explain it.

The healing effect it has on the human mind and body is just one part of it. But the supreme contentment that it renders on the very orb of human existence is inexplicable through words.

Meditation has become a buzz word in the health and wellness sector. There are several definitions, and explanations on “how to do meditation” coming from spiritual gurus, yoga instructors, motivational speakers, and life coaches.

Yet somehow, the concept of meditation has continued to be ever-elusive and much beyond the reach of an ordinary human being.

Hence, it becomes all the more relevant as we start to compile a beginner’s guide to meditation, to understand what the true essence of meditation is. It is only then that as beginners, we will understand how to approach the entire process, in the first place.

Meditation or Dhyana is a stage where a yogi is capable to look inward. We see the outer world through our eyesight where it is all lit up. But when it comes to our inner world, it is all dark as long as we learn to light it up with our soul that has been enlightened with incessant spiritual and righteous practices. Only when a person is capable of reaching that realm, one becomes Meditative or Dyanamagna. And that is the true essence of Meditation or Dhyana.

 

“Meditation” or “Dhyana” means to go beyond the limitations of the physical body and the mind. Only when you transcend the limited perspective of the body and the mind do you have a complete dimension of life within you.” – Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudeva

 

Why Am I Not Able To Meditate?

For beginners struggling to do meditation, at the initial stages it becomes difficult for them to sit at one place and focus their minds at one point.

Speaking from my own experience, coming from a spiritual family, I was initiated to meditation by my father at a very young age. My father gave me a very simple instruction – close your eyes and focus your mind on the area between your eyebrows. I did as instructed. After a while, my forehead started hurting and my mind was all over the places right from my favorite show to my school playground to my bench mate’s lunch box to my mother yelling at me to put my things in place… to what not.

A few days into the process, I concluded that meditation is not my cup of tea. Since then, not a single day has passed in all my growing years when my father has not tried to coax me into practicing meditation.

However, I had either given up too early or needed some more comprehensive guidance. Yet, in my tryst to avoid this unnerving process as I had experienced it, one thing that I could not put out of my mind is – how to focus your mind at one point?

 

How to Focus Your Mind at One Point?

Years later, I heard a session on mediation by Brahma Kumari Sister Shivani. The session somewhat answered my question of focusing the mind in one place. What I understood from her speech was this –

Suppose you are going on a holiday and you have to board a train. As you start from your house, till the time you take your seat on the train, you will witness and react to several incidents. You see them and move on. You don’t get involved or engaged with them. If you get engaged with them, you will miss the train. Now replace yourself with your mind and your seat on the train to be the point where your mind has to reach.

The concept was clear to me now.

Now the Next Challenge – Taming the mind

Even though the concept was clear in my head, it was still difficult to stop the mind from engaging with distracting thoughts. Perhaps the physical body was easier to be guided than the mind. Perhaps the mind needed a far more rigorous training and disciplined handling.

It is not that it can’t be attained, but it takes a will of steel to sit still in one place; try to grab hold of your mind repeatedly and bring it back from distracting thoughts and making it stay in one place.

Essentially, it takes continuous practice and discipline to tame the mind.

 

Why does it make sense to Meditate?

Meditation has a profound impact on the whole of human existence. It is one practice that can make you truly invincible in every aspect of life. To begin with, meditation helps to fight depression, anxiety, and stress.

As per a scientific study conducted on people practicing meditation regularly, it has been found that there is an incredible coherence between their left and the right brain.

Have you ever google about “habits of successful people,”? essentially has a special mention about meditation. Just like physical exercise and yoga asanas helps to build and maintain healthy muscles, meditation helps to maintain the health of the brain cells. It helps you to increase your efficiency at work.

With regular practice of meditation, students become capable of retaining more information, grasp newer concepts faster and memorize without much effort while professionals are capable of completing the same task in a faster and more spontaneous manner than they do otherwise.

Regular practice of meditation enhances your will power and enables you to stand tall through the worst of the physical, emotional, psychological or financial debacles.

However, these positive impacts that get manifested in the different areas of life are still the tip of the ice-berg. At this stage, you are still being able to experience the impact on the physical sphere. The inward journey is yet to begin.

It Takes Time – Be Informed

What is meditation? Beginner guide for meditation. Learn meditation techniques for beginners and their benefits.
Image: Freepik

Getting to a point where you begin to experience the real feel of being meditative takes a lot of patience and perseverance.

It is like embarking on a long journey to a place that is overwhelmingly illuminated and blissful. You have no idea about the distance you have to walk, nor do you have any idea about the time it will take you to reach there. Yet, you walk miles after miles with the hope that the next turn of the road may get you there. And finally, when you arrive at the point, the ecstasy is inexplicable through words.

Yogis and spiritual gurus have always tried to motivate people to meditate. Because, it is one feeling that can never be shared, nor can it be explained.

It can be felt only by the person who has attained it.

It is one touchstone that can make an extremist revolutionary like Aurobindo Ghosh commit his entire life to meditation and spirituality.

It is the bliss that had made Vivekananda run from one end of the world to the other, wanting to share it with every possible life he could touch upon.

All these great men and spiritual gurus had realized that the only thing that could save mankind from the ferocity of the fiercely competitive modern life is meditation.

 

How to Start Meditation?

Out of eight limbs of Hatha Yoga, Meditation or Dyana constitutes the seventh limb. Each of these eight limbs if practiced with full dedication and sincerity helps to attain optimal physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.

These eight limbs are laid serially as eight levels, the first being Yama, followed by Niyama at the second level; further followed by Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dyana, and Samadhi consecutively. Now, gauging at the level that has been assigned to Dyana or Meditation, it essentially seems to be an advanced level.

If you want to calm your mind, you will first have to work on your body and perception towards life. The first three limbs of Hatha Yoga, namely, Yama, Niyama and Asana helps you to get to this level.

Thereafter, with regular practice of Pranayama helps to attune your body and mind with your life energy, which elevates you further and brings you closer to Meditation.

Gradually, your apprehensions are eradicated and you gather the strength to embark on the journey. Slowly, as your body gets used to tranquility and stillness, your mind has to follow suit.

 

Prepping Your Body before Meditation

Yoga Pose before meditation. Meditation guide for beginners.
Image: Freepik

It is advisable to practice Asana before starting meditation. Asanas help us to relax our bodies and Pranayama helps to regulate our breathing pattern as well as clear our nasal passage.

All of these are essential to prepare our bodies to be able to sit in a position for long hours. If your knees start hurting after a while of keeping them folded or you have a backache or any other part of the body that feels agitated when you are trying to meditate, that will essential interrupt the process.

Hence, it is advisable to do a few stretching exercises before starting meditation. Here are some of the very effective poses to follow before starting meditation.

 

Duration of Meditation

Practiced independently, the duration of meditation can start from as low as 10 minutes and go on to extend for hours depending upon the tenacity of the practitioners. It takes a lot of time, patience as well as a healthy body to be able to practice for long hours. The only way here is to stay put and keep practicing with an unwavering belief that you will get there.

These days, spiritual gurus, motivational speakers and yogis help people to meditate. This is called guided meditation.

These guided meditation techniques help the beginners to follow to the instructions while carrying out with their breathing and observation as guided by the instructor. The duration of guided meditations typically varies between 10 minutes to 45 minutes.

 

Best Time for Meditation

The best time for meditation is ideally during the early hours of the day after practicing yoga asana.

Why? It is because meditation is most effective in an empty stomach.

As we have discussed earlier that, before you try to calm your mind, you should calm your body. Hence, as long your digestive system is at work, how can your body be calm?

Hence, early morning is the best time for meditation because there is a gap of eight to nine hours after a meal. Also, it is that time of the day when there is no major outside noise to distract you apart from the birds chirping.

Meditation can also be practiced at evening, preferable at the dawn when the sun goes down. In Indian culture, there is a special significance of this time when all the members of the household are supposed to come back, lit the lamps and offer prayer to the deity they worship. It is also the time when the birds fly back to their nests. Essentially, the purpose behind these rituals are meant to remind all living creatures to come back home, bond with their family and be thankful for the blessings of the universe.

Also co-incidentally, this is again a time, when there is a gap of four to five hours after the meal. Hence, this time is also suitable for meditation.

Another time that is equally effective is just before you fall asleep at night. During the seven to eight hours that we sleep, it is the time when our body and mind goes through a healing process.

The better sleep we get the better it is for our mind and body. Meditating just before we fall asleep improves the quality of our sleep and helps us to wake up rejuvenated and ready to manifest our inner power in a phenomenal manner.

 

Meditation Techniques

Several meditation techniques have evolved through different practices at different geographical locations. While each of these techniques is unique in their respective approaches, yet their purpose is one – to tame your mind in a way that it becomes your biggest strength.

As Sadhguru says, –

Either you make enslave your mind or be enslaved by your mind. Your mind is the terrible master but a miraculous slave.”

Some of the most practiced meditation techniques for beginners as well as for advanced practitioners include:

Metta Meditation – The technique helps people to become sensitive and compassionate. It is also known as the Loving-kindness meditation and is known to be particularly helpful for aggressive people with indomitable temperament, resentment, and frustration.

 

Progressive relaxation – Also known as Body Scan, this technique helps to soothe and heal every part of your body and mind. This is the best stress buster technique that can make you feel energized within a duration of five to ten minutes.

 

Mindful Meditation – This technique entails the practitioner to be alert and be in the moment. Taking slow and relaxed breathing, the practitioner can observe and engage with the surrounding, focusing on the sound, smell and sight which slowly elevates the mind from the mundane concerns of daily life.

 

Breath Awareness – Just watching your breathing pattern can be incredibly relaxing and tranquilizing for your mind. Focus your mind on the tip of your nose and watch your breath as it comes in through your nose, fills your lungs and stomach and then again as it comes out through your nose.

 

Kundalini Meditation – One of the guided meditation techniques, Kundalini Meditation includes physical movement, deep breathing, and mantra jaap. It helps to work on physical as well as mental strength.

 

Zen Meditation – Also known as Zazen, this is a Buddhist technique that involves practicing under the guided supervision of a teacher who can guide the practitioners through the steps and postures.

 

Transcendental Meditation – This technique is for people who are initiated on a spiritual path. It includes mantra jaap ( repeating a word, phrase or a couplet over and over again in your mind and keeping your mind focused on it). The practitioner is initiated to the mantra by a Guru. This technique ensures spiritual as well as mental elevation.

I hope this beginner’s guide to meditation will prove to be helpful and a lot of questions have being answered. Please write to us in the comments below and let us know if you would like us to write on a particular topic that you would like to explore in detail.

And don’t forget to share your experience with us on meditation and how you get benefited from it.

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