Most people in our western society think that meditation is something that only Buddhist monks or Indian yogi’s do. By doing this they ignore the fact that meditation, as a practice, is also done by business people, athletes or normal folks like you and me. Meditation can be very relaxing and rewarding, like walking in the forest or listening to good music.
While Buddhists use meditation to expand their awareness, awaken and get enlightened (like the Buddha did 2500 years ago), in it’s most basic form mediation is nothing more than closing your eyes to still the mind. You don’t need to sit in full lotus position, a chair will do as well. A moment for yourself, away from all the noise, stress and anxiety of daily life. Think of it as a recharge to release all the stress that has been building up in the mind and nervous system.
If you’re still with me, and didn’t surf to another site, try the following exercise: Close your eyes for 1 minute and try not to think. How did that feel? How many seconds did it take without thinking a single thought? I’ll bet trying not to think was more difficult then you thought it would be!
Now try the following: Close your eyes, breath in and out (deeply, from the lower belly) for about 3 times. Keep concentrating on your breath for approximately 1 minute. How did that feel? Was your mind more silent than in the exercise above? I think so as you just learned a basic meditation technique! By concentrating on your breath you take away your attention from the mind, which results in less mental “noise”. Now, if you got the hang of it, try to extend the time a little. You will see that even 5 minutes a day can make a huge difference.
There are literally thousands of different meditation techniques. Most are designed to take away the attention from the mind, to reduce mental activity. Below are a few basic techniques:
- Breathing meditation, as described above.
- Concentrate on the body. Scan you body slowly from your feet up to your head.
- Mantra meditation, the use of a special word which is repeated in the mind.
- Just sit and let your thoughts come and go without identifying with them.
- Guided meditation, use of a teacher or meditation CD.
If you go to a good bookstore or Amazon you will find plenty of books on the subject. Beware that if you do an Internet search you can be overwelmed by the number of sites and information. Some sites even suggest that their method is better then others. If you start out with meditation, choose the method which feels the most natural to you. Remember, there may me subtle differences in the level of effectiveness between meditation techniques, but any technique, even practices for 5 minutes a day, is better than not to meditate at all.
Below are a couple of sites which I think give good information on how to meditate and meditation in general:
- http://www.unlock-your-happiness.com Site promoting Conscious Mental Rest (CMR). Lots of good information, run by Gavin Hoole. CMR is a very natural way of meditation and is one of my preferred ways to meditate.
- http://www.natural-stress-relief.com Mantra meditation, Natural Stress Relief (NSR) is slightly based on Transcendental Meditation (TM). NSR is also one of my favorite ways to meditate.
- http://wildmind.org Site devoted to Buddhist meditation.
- http://www.bliss-music.com Site owned by Kip Mazuy who creates meditation music.