A Beginner's Guide to Enlightenment

Meditation is straightforward, free, and it will change your life.

Posted Sep 02, 2013

When you see the word, “Meditation,” what comes to mind? Perhaps you imagine monks sitting cross-legged with their eyes closed. Or maybe the word makes you think of being in a calm and relaxed state. I know that many of you intuitively understand meditation will benefit you, but you’re not sure how to make the practice part of your life. Like introducing any new activity into your daily regimen, it will take discipline and may not be easy at first. But I assure you that with consistency, you’ll find it one of the most beneficial habits you’ll ever embrace. In this blog post, I’ll provide you simple guidelines to introducing meditation to your daily routine.

Keep It Simple

Meditation should not be complicated. Some meditation practitioners teach that you should sit in a certain pose, breathe in a particular way, or imagine a chant or mantra. But after three decades of meditating nearly everyday, I believe you don’t need to follow any steadfast rules. Meditation doesn’t require special equipment or fancy gym clothes. All you need is a quiet place to sit and a little time.

Getting Started

So, let’s begin with a very basic meditation to introduce you to the process. In my opinion, this is the most straightforward and least complicated technique.

First, sit in a comfortable position—no need to sit in the “full lotus” posture with your legs crossed like a pretzel. In fact, sitting in a chair works well, too. If you’re in a chair make sure your feet are flat on the floor and that your hands are resting comfortably on your lap.

You want to focus on keeping your posture straight. In other words, your head, neck, and shoulders should remain in a straight line. The reason for this is that many people become so relaxed during meditation that they fall asleep. Sleep is less likely to happen if you’re sitting up straight. Avoiding falling asleep is also why I recommend you don't meditate lying down.

Next, focus on your breathing. Begin taking slow, deep breaths. Pay attention to each inhale and exhale. Let the air flow in and out in a slow, steady rhythm. The reason that breathing is very important in meditation is that adding the extra oxygen to your body will help you relax.

As you continue to focus on your breathing, observe your breath entering and exiting your body. By reaching a more relaxed state, you’ll notice that any tension in your body will begin to loosen.

The Monkey Mind

If you’re like most of us, your mind can get in the way. You may begin to think of what you need to do later, someone you forgot to call, or an errand that needs to be run. Don’t worry. It’s very normal for thoughts to come up while you’re meditating, especially when you’re first learning how to do it.

It takes practice to let go of these random thoughts that dash around in your head, a process that is often called “monkey mind.” When you experience the monkey mind, here’s what I recommend. Don’t try to suppress these thoughts. Instead, witness them. Then simply bring your mind back to your breathing. Do this each time a distracting thought arises. Just acknowledge that you’re having a thought and let it go.

Over time, you’ll find that have fewer and fewer thoughts to distract you. But for now, don’t worry about it. Simply acknowledge each thought…and then go back to your deep breathing.

Your goal in meditation is to sit comfortably, follow your breath, and work towards being in a thought-free state. Avoid judgment, such as “Am I doing it right?” “Why am I doing this?” and more. When thoughts arise, simply watch them and then return to your breath. You don’t need to have any expectations. Just flow with your breath. It’s that easy.

After a few minutes of gently following your breath, you’ll find that your mind gets still (or stiller). When you eventually reach a calmer state, you’ll find that it’s very peaceful.

I recommend that you meditate twice a day. I do it for about an hour in the morning and an hour before I go to bed. You may want to start with a shorter time. For instance plan on 10 minutes and build up to thirty minutes or more. Find what’s comfortable for you, and do it consistently.

Let’s Review

The following are the key techniques of meditation:

1. First, get comfortable, either sitting on a chair or on a cushion.

2. Begin by taking slow, deep breaths.

2. Focus on your breathing entering and exiting your body.

3. Don’t suppress your thoughts or follow them. Instead, witness them. Simply acknowledge your thoughts, and then you return to your breath.

For more help, I have free guided meditations ready for immediate download at www.meditationforhealthpodcast.com