I’ve been seeing recently a lot of posters and ads in my city for meditation classes. Some are fairly cheap (about 12 US dollars) but others are quite expensive (up to 350 US dollars).
One of the principles I live by is to never pay for anything I can get for free on the Internet. In that spirit I would like to write a post which would be a simple guide on how to start with meditation. Hopefully this will be of use for people who can’t afford or are unwilling to put hundreds of dollars on learning this skill.
But first of all:
You might be wondering why you should even spend any time meditating. Isn’t that something only Buddhist monks and New Age hippies do? Isn’t sitting down and repeating a mantra in your head just a massive waste of time?
As it turns out, there is some real and scientifically supported evidence that meditation has medical and psychological properties that anyone can benefit from. An improved immune system, slowed aging, less anxiety and stress, improved concentration and increased grey brain matter are just some of the many benefits of meditation. If you are still skeptical I encourage you to do some research of your own of the topic. Here is a good article to start.
Speaking from my own personal experience I can say that meditation has help me greatly with dealing with depression and anxiety. It has also greatly improved my ability to focus, something I have to struggle with a lot as a person with ADD.
So, how do you meditate?
First find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Sit or lay down in a relaxing position, whichever you are more comfortable with.
Close your eyes. Breath deeply in and out. Then, and here’s the tricky part, empty your mind of thoughts and focus on just being present.
But how do you do that exactly?
Well, this can require some training but a good tip that has been used for thousands of years by Buddhist monks is to repeat a mantra in your head. Preferably it should be a sound that has no meaning to you (such as ohm) so that you don’t associate it with anything special and end up creating more thoughts in your mind.
Another great tip and one I use a lot is to listen to recorded nature sounds or special meditation music, countless of which is accessible for free on YouTube.
In the summer I personally love to sit by the river in my home town and meditate to the sound of the flowing water.
Some more tips.
Inevitably thoughts WILL pop into your mind. This happens even to experienced meditators. When this happen, do not despair. Simply let go of the thought, choose to not let it lead you to more thinking. Imagine that the thoughts are captured in little balloons and that they are floating upwards and away from you. Just let them go and go back to just being present.
This might take a lot of willpower and energy when you first start with meditation but it is a skill which gets better with practice. Start easy. Try five minutes or less of meditation before progressing to longer periods of time.
Try also to create a routine. Meditation is going to help you best if you practice it on a regular basis. Research has shown that just 20 minutes can be beneficial if you are consistent with it.
Finally I just want to wish you good luck and I hope that you will experience the wonderful sense of inner peace that this practice can give.