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Meditation can seem daunting to some who have never tried it before. What is meditation? Why is meditation useful? What are the benefits of meditation?
How do I meditate?
It is easier to train the mind by meditating around the same time every day and choosing the same meditation zone. It also helps to clear the mind as much as possible before getting in your meditation state of mind. An easy attempt to clear the mind of any major stressors may be, writing in a journal, talking to a friend, or even working out or trying yoga beforehand.
During meditation, the mind may try to take control and keep you busy with constant thoughts and this is natural. Mingyur Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist Master, calls this the "monkey mind." The goal is not to push out thoughts, emotions, and simply concentrate, the goal is to find peace. "monkey mind" is your constant mental chatter. This can be the drama at work that is overwhelming you, problems with your spouse, bills, etc. The trick is to acknowledge those thoughts, and always bring your awareness back to your breath.
There are many ways to meditate, but if you are a beginner, here are the basics.
1. Get Comfortable
The first place to start is to lie or sit down comfortably in a relaxed and quiet environment with preferable lighting. This can be your school library, your bed, the shower, and the list goes on. Eventually, you will be able to meditate anywhere, a loud busy, a busy street, some people say they can meditate during their commute.
2. Close Your Eyes
After you find a comfortable setting and a comfortable position, close your eyes and relax your muscles. With your eyes close take the first few seconds to adjust to what your eyes are seeing. If your lids are too red with your eyes closed, try adjusting the lighting. Give your eyes time to adjust with the purpose of eliminating distracting factors.
Your first attempt should feel natural, so for the first minute or so focus on your natural breathing. In and out, in and out, and so on. Be aware of how your body moves with each full breath and how your body feels. By this I mean, the way your muscles move with your expanding lungs and noticing how your lungs expand and contract with each breath.
After a few minutes of natural breathing, try to lengthen those breaths, which will also help you keep your monkey mind distracted. Inhale, count to one, exhale. Breathe in, count to two. Breathe in, count to three. All the way up to seven or more, depending on your comfort level.
If you need help counting, there are apps and Youtube videos that can give you an idea of how long of a pause there should be between your counts. If you have an apple watch, the breathe app that is pre-installed is very helpful. Helpful apps: Headspace, Breethe, Sanity & Self, and many more. For Youtube, there are various options. I recommend searching keywords: Guided Meditation. There are many guided sleep meditations that are highly recommended and last for upwards of four hours.
Naturally, your first attempt and even the following sessions of meditation should leave you feeling refreshed and blissful.