When teaching people how to meditate, I often come across several myths: That to meditate you need to silence your mind, that there is only one perfect way to meditate, that you need to meditate for at least an hour to accomplish any benefits, and other similar items. The good news is that all of these things are false.
First off, the time issue. Any amount of meditation is better than none at all. Start yourself off simply, for five to ten minutes a day. As you practice and it gets easier, add more time. Don’t push yourself. Don’t stress (that defeats the point!). Rather than keeping your eye on a clock, set an alarm so that you can just focus on meditating and not how long you’ve been at it.
Next, what to focus on. My suggestion is to focus on your breathing, and establish a steady rhythm of deep breaths in, holding your breath, long slow breaths out, and holding your breath out. Repeat. It helps to count at first until you get more used to it.
But what if you’ve never meditated before? How do you begin?
Meditation for Beginners.
Find a place where you can be alone and sit comfortably. You can sit in a chair with your hands resting on your knees, or cross-legged on the floor with your back straight. Don’t worry over so-called proper positionality for beginning. Just sit comfortably. Next, breathe, just as I described. Take deep long breaths as you count slowly to 4. Hold your breath as you count slowly to 4. Breathe out slowly as you count to 4. Hold your breath out as you count to 4. Repeat for as long as you’re comfortable doing so. That’s really all there needs to be to it.
It is useful to mention here that the goal of meditation isn’t to silence your mind, but rather to learn to separate yourself from your thoughts–and even that sounds more complicated than it actually is. If a thought comes to you while you are meditating, simply observe it and set it aside. You can always come back to it. Go back to counting your breaths. More thoughts will come, that you can set aside also. Just breathe. It’s that simple.
Ways to Meditate.
There are many ways to meditate. Some people like incense. Some don’t. Some like to gaze into a lit candle, and some prefer to stare at a blank wall or to close their eyes. Some like music, or narrated meditations. Some like to do it while walking or jogging. Any and all of these are fine. The key is to begin.