Even though you may not consider yourself a meditator yet, you’ll want to choose a meditation program that suits your personality. You can explore the many dimensions of yoga meditation in Namaste Yoga’s Studio’s Yoga Meditation for Beginners.
Briefly described, meditation is the stilling of all your conscious faculties in order to be present in the moment. It is a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. It is not a part of any religion; it is a science, which means that the process of mediation follows a particular order, has definite principles, and produces results that can be verified. When you meditate you are fully awake and alert, but your mind is not focused on the external world or on events taking place around you. Meditation requires an inner state that is still and one-pointed so that the mind becomes silent. When the mind is silent and no longer distracts you meditation deepens.
The goal is to go beyond the mind and experience our essential nature, which is described as peace, happiness, and bliss. The mind itself is the biggest obstacle, standing between this awareness and ourselves. The mind is undisciplined and unruly, and it resists any attempts to discipline it or to guide it on a particular path. It is your own mind that does not allow you to meditate.
Everyone can benefit from meditation. Students need meditation to help them memorize information and relax before exams. Office workers need meditation to prevent preoccupation with detail and to help see the big picture. Homemakers and need meditation to avoid feelings of isolation while coping with the day’s demands.
Dozens of studies have shown that individuals who pray/mediate regularly are healthier and live longer than those who rarely or never do. You may not notice benefits now, but slowly and gradually you are storing the samskaras (impressions) in the unconscious mind that will help you later. Below is a list of some of the benefits of meditation.
Let’s give meditation a try. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and select one of the 5 following meditation methods listed below. Then, find a comfortable sitting position with your back, head and neck straight (you can also meditate lying down or sitting on a chair), in an uncluttered, quiet place where you’ll not be disturbed. Close your eyes gently, and allow all your muscles to relax except those supporting your head, neck and back (if sitting), and enjoy letting go of the tension in your body.
1. Follow the Breath
Once relaxed and at peace, bring awareness to your breath. While breathing in, be aware of the breath as it enters the nostrils cool, feel it in the back of the throat, in the trachea, the bronchial tubes and then into the lungs. Say silently to yourself “I am aware of my breath inhaling; then, while breathing out, be aware of the breath as it leaves the nostrils having been warmed by the body, saying to yourself “I am aware of my breath exhaling.” Notice which part of your lungs are being exercised as you breathe. Breathing primarily through the movement of the diaphragm, continue to observe your breath without trying to control it. Just watch it like you would follow a tennis ball bouncing from one side of the court to the other. Give your full attention to your breath, and all allow yourself to experience your breath without judgment or changing it. Feel as if your breath and you are one. You can also elect to use an affirmation, e.g., on the in-breath say to yourself “I am” and on the out-breath say “calm and relaxed” to center yourself during this practice. Your mind will inevitably stray and hundreds of thoughts may come. Be aware of them without reacting to them. It is your own mind that does not allow you to meditate. To work with your mind, you’ll have to be patient; these thoughts will pass as you gently refocus the mind back to the breath. You’ll have to work with yourself gradually.
2. Use a Mantra
Choose a favorite word, phrase, prayer, or fragment of a poem, and repeat it slowly, and softly. Let its rhythm and meaning lull you into a quiet, contemplative state of ease. When you notice that your mind has wandered off to other thoughts, simply redirect it back toward the words you’ve chosen. See #4 below which gives examples of phrases you might want to use. Also see more examples of Mantras in the Mantra section of this website.
3. Listen to the Sounds of Life
With your eyes closed, tune into the sounds within you and around you. Open your ears and be receptive to all the sounds around you. At first, you’ll likely hear only the most obvious noises, but over time, you’ll discover new layers of sounds that you had previously tuned out. Challenge yourself to observe what you hear without clinging to it or resisting it. Notice how the world feels more alive as our awareness of the present deepens.
4. Meditation on God and Life
Meditate on God (or that Deity in which you believe, and/or a Higher Power/Consciousness) filling the universe with life. Feel yourself; here and now, filled with the life that God has given you. Feel this tremendous gift in your heart. Visualize and feel God’s gift of life flowing into your body and soul. Feel this gift of life in your limbs, organs, senses, brain, nerves – in every cell of your body, from the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes; from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. You need not do anything except feel His presence, face and behold Him. Life, filling the all, will have become a real factor in your living. In whatever you do, remember that you stand before Him when you are eating food, when you are working at your desk, driving your car, catching your bus – in all of your life. Even in moments of pain see the pain as an offering of love. Offer to God the pain and suffer it for Him, and say to yourself,“Please accept this moment of pain as a love offering from me.”
5. Contacting your Higher Self
Try this one lying down in deep relaxation, breathing deeply. You can use the affirmation “I am” on the in-breath and “calm and relaxed” on the out-breath to help center yourself. Then visualize a light within your heart glowing radiant and warm. Feel it spreading and growing – shining out from you farther and farther until you are like a golden sun, radiating loving energy on everything and everyone around you. Say to yourself silently and with conviction “Divine light and divine love are flowing through me and radiating from me to everything round me.” Repeat this over and over to yourself until you have a strong sense of your own spiritual energy. Other affirmations or mantras that you might want to use are: “God is working through me now.” “I am filled with creative energy.” “The light within me is creating miracles in my life here and now.” [Or use whatever phrase has meaning and power to you.]
May peace prevail in the hearts of many
May all be kind to each other
When the heart is kind, we become beautiful like a flower
When the heart is kind, wherever we go in this world and whomever we met, we feel at home and at ease because there is no me and no them
Bear no animosity toward anyone, only kindness in one’s heart to all
A kind heart is the jewel of the universe because wherever we are in the universe this inner jewel will guide us to happiness, we will feel happy, and have many friends in our lives
Bear homage to beings that have a kind heart
May I too become kind, compassionate and loving to all beings
May all beings find this jewel and only have loving kindness
May peace prevail in the hearts of humanity
May all be kind to each other