How Do I Meditate?
People have been practicing the art of meditation for thousands of years. Most religions teach some form of meditation as a spiritual discipline. Common practices include prayer, chanting, scripture study and various kinds of worship. While exploring different meditative practices, it is important to note that what appears in this posting is not religious in nature. It can, however, be considered a form of psycho-spiritualism.
Benefits of Meditation
The scientific literature tells us that mindfulness based approaches to wellness, such as deliberate breathing, can yield many benefits. These include decreasing the heart rate, increasing alertness, decreasing a desire to use substances and lessen anxiety.
Meditation for psychological and emotional benefits can really be divided into two types: concentrative meditation and external awareness meditation. Mindfulness is just one example of external awareness meditation.
How to Meditate: 8 Steps
Below you will find 8 tips on how to meditate as suggested Dr. James Claiborn. The general goal using this approach to meditation is to limit awareness of the outside world by focusing on a word, phrase or mental image.
Are you ready? Let’s dive right in.
1. To the extent possible, reduce noise and other distractions around you. Some people play soft music as an alternative when unable to create an environment of complete silence.
2. If you are feeling a bit tense or stressed, spend a few minutes engaging in deep breathing exercises. Try to clear your mind of any negative thoughts, including toxic energy.
3. Bring to focus a single word or mental image. Gently bring all of your awareness to this word or image without it having to be a struggle. Some people use pleasant imagery, such as a plant or animal.
4. Should other thoughts float in, let them pass through and do not fight them. Simply accept the thoughts for what they are and thank your mind for sharing them. If a worry or thought seems to be sticking with you, take a moment to write it down. This can paradoxically help you let it go.
5 Focus on a word or phrase. This can be neutral or hold special meaning to you. Examples include: “be still,” or “relax,” or “calm.” Some people choose something spiritual, such as “Praise God”. The choice is completely yours.
6. Aloud or in your mind, say the word or phrase you have chosen with every breath you let out. It may help to stretch the word out for the entire length of the exhaled breath. Keep focusing on the word or image you have chosen.
7. When thoughts float into your head, gently remind yourself to stay focused on your word or image. Let the thought be with you a moment and then allow it to pass on by.
8. Stay in this meditative state for 10-15 minutes a day. You may want to start out slowly with something like five minutes and incrementally add time as you grow more comfortable.
Meditation Final Thoughts
Some people use a shortened version of the meditative approach mentioned here. Others have found that with practice, they are able to meditate on demand. Your own journey of mindfulness will dictate what works best for you.
We’re including a very short meditation video below to help you become more comfortable with all that has been mentioned here. This particular video is a short, guided meditation that many people use in the morning as a way of becoming more centered.
If you are looking to learn more about meditation and various ways to relax, be sure to visit our Zen Meditation Room! We hope you found the material here useful. Thanks for visiting 2nd Story Counseling online.
References: Adapted from the BDD Workbook. 2002. James Claiborn.