Before beginning a meditation practice, those new to meditation should be prepared to make both the time and space commitments necessary to practice daily meditation. Additionally, beginners need to select a meditation posture to use while practicing meditation. Finally, people new to meditation should be prepared to use a meditation timer to ensure that they complete each daily meditation practice.
- 1 Creating Time and Space for Meditation Practice
- 2 Adopting a Meditation Posture
Creating Time and Space for Meditation Practice
Two of the most important aspects of meditation are creating both the time and the space in which to meditate. Creating the time means simply making a commitment that one will spend 10 (or 20, or 30) minutes per day meditating, and then making that happen. This might mean waking up earlier, taking time away from evening television, or setting aside time before going to sleep at night.
It’s important to create a space in which to practice meditation. This must be a place in which one can meditate without disruption or disturbance for the chosen amount of time. Many people find it helpful to reserve a room or a corner of a room for meditation practice only. It’s also common to create a small shrine with candles and/or objects of significance in the meditation space.
Adopting a Meditation Posture
A number of meditation postures are commonly used, including the lotus, half-lotus, and crossed-leg postures. A cushion is often used to help support the body when seated in these positions. Other options include kneeling, sitting in a chair, or even lying down. The eyes can be closed or open, depending on the meditation practice chosen or one’s personal preference. The hands can simply be placed on the legs, palms up or down, or in one of several mudras.
Using a Meditation Timer
A meditation timer is a particularly useful tool for those learning to meditate. This way, one can choose a time period for meditation practice before starting. Otherwise, people often tend to stop before the allotted time is up, or else steal surreptitious glances at the clock throughout the meditation practice. This is obviously distracting and defeats the purpose of meditation.
The easiest meditation timer that most people already possess is a cellular phone. Simply turn the phone’s sounds off to “Alarm Only,” and set the alarm for the desired length of meditation. If necessary, set the phone out of arm’s reach so that checking how much time is left isn’t possible. Choose an alarm that is gentle, not jarring, to alert one as to when the meditation session is complete.
Ready, Set, Go: It’s Time to Learn a Meditation Practice
Meditation for beginners starts with creating the time and space for meditation in one’s life. Adopting a meditation posture and being willing to use a meditation timer come next. After these steps have been taken, it is time to learn some meditation techniques and start reaping the benefits of meditation in one’s life.
Why Meditation Is Difficult
Why, then, is meditation difficult for many beginners? People have very active minds; experts estimate the human mind processes thousands of thoughts each day, perhaps hundreds of thousands. Much of this thinking is subconscious, carried on without conscious awareness.
An inability to quiet the mind is probably the main reason a novice abandons meditation.
Those experienced in meditation often describe reaching deep and intense states characterized by the absence of all thought and a mental transportation into a black or blue nothingness accompanied by an intense spiritual experience.
The novice expecting to reach this state of deep meditation in the first few attempts will likely be disappointed and frustrated. There can also be a subconscious resistance by the mind, fearful of abandoning all thought and control.
Beginning Meditation Goals
Rather than aiming for a deep state of meditation with the expectation of a spiritual experience, the novice is probably best served by striving for brief periods of relaxation. Quieting the mind for even a few minutes is relaxing and energizing.
By learning to meditate for relaxation and stress relief, even in the midst of a busy day, the novice will gain confidence and competence, which will likely lead to future meditating successes, perhaps even a profound spiritual experience.
Seven Keys for Meditation Success
These seven keys will help the beginner master meditation problems:
Strive initially for mental detachment rather than the absolute absence of thinking. An excellent example of mental detachment occurs in the few moments just before falling asleep. Thoughts may be going through the mind, but they appear to be at a distance, and one can literally experience drawing away. This experience can also occur at other times, such as when bored during a class, a lecture, or a movie.
Avoid hitching a ride on thoughts. Watch thoughts come into mind, but avoid following them. Watch the thoughts pass by as if they were cars on a distant freeway, coming into view and passing on, but without going along.
Focus intensely on an object, either a physical object or a mental image. Strive to see every detail of the object from every perspective.
Repeat a brief phrase or sound over and over. Do this silently or out loud if the circumstances permit. Try the guttural sounds of ahhh and ohmmm, or any soothing, drawn-out words or brief phrases.
Take a nature walk, intently noticing each plant, tree, or flower, but avoiding thoughts of everyday problems.
Dr. Wayne Dyer, author of many best selling self help books, suggests in Getting In the Gap, to focus on the gap or space between words of the Lord’s Prayer. Say the prayer out loud or silently, stopping briefly after each word to focus on the gap, a place of nothingness.
Picture a flickering candle flame, watch it intently for a time, then mentally blow it out. Repeat as necessary.
Meditation Success for Beginners
It may seem impossible to the novice to abandon all thought, but that is not necessary when beginning meditation. Following the seven tips above will provide the beginner with some of the benefits of meditation, providing experience and confidence that may lead to deeper, spiritual benefits.