There is a tendency amongst many people to think that meditation is a somewhat aloof, elitist, mystical and complex practice that requires years of practice to become proficient. People can be put off trying meditation for any or a combination of those reasons. Meditation, though, can actually be very simple, and that is how it should be for beginners.
Simple meditation is really where to start, and you will soon realise that there is nothing mystical or elitist about meditation. Also, it only takes a short period of time to experience the benefits of even simple meditation.
Given that one of the major benefits of even the simplest meditation can be stress relief, and stress is such a big problem in the Western world, it is easy to see how widely meditation can improve the lives of people. It really is a matter of just getting started, as you may soon get into a habit (and I do not mean a monk's habit, unless that's what you really want) of making time to meditate on a regular basis.
Where many Westerners may feel uncomfortable about meditation is its spiritual connotation. While the West sinks further into a non-spiritual, straightjacket existence, for millions it becomes even harder to even contemplate a spiritual side to life. However, those same people can benefit from meditating simply for the stress relief and relaxation effects. Then, as time goes by, a spiritual reawakening may be more likely to follow, as naturally as day follows night.
To keep meditation simple, there is no need to learn about all the theory, nor read volumes by all the “experts". Though such learning may enrich your life, it is not an essential of getting started. If you have any doubts or misunderstandings about meditation, then it is as well just to try it at a personal level in its simplest form.
What is meditation, though? To meditate is, put simply, to muse or contemplate, at a profound level, on a particular subject or series of subjects. Now that hardly seems mystical, spiritual or elitist, does it? But for a newcomer to meditation, it will do. It is simple, natural, and very easy, once you do it. The difficulty for many in attempting meditation is penetrating the image, and getting down to the practicality.
In meditating, a person will quieten the mind and move away from conscious thoughts that distract, establishing a connection with the subconscious. There are a number of techniques for doing this, and each person may do best with one particular technique.
An important step in starting your first, and any, meditation session, is to get into a comfortable position; a position where you can allow your mind to drift into a peaceful state with minimum distraction. If you are uncomfortable, your discomfort will be a distraction.
Do not feel that you have to get into the famous Lotus position, one that many associate with meditation. It is not essential. I cannot sit in a lotus position due to the condition of my hip joints, and can only meditate effectively in other lying or sitting positions. Remember, for simple meditation it is the comfort rather than the actual position that is important. Meditation takes place in the mind; your mind is with you whatever the position; the correct position is primarily to prevent the distraction of discomfort.
Once you are comfortable, then you can close your eyes and start relaxing your mind. It is essential to focus on your breathing and to ensure you breathe through your nose and not your mouth. Pay full attention to each breath, focusing your mind in the act of breathing into and out of your lungs.
Once you have settled into the breathing rhythm, and can maintain your awareness of it, ensure that any thoughts and distractions to do with your daily life drift away. This can be difficult, but do not pressure yourself. Like many things, practice will make you more in control of your mind and able to shut out external intrusions more easily.
Thoughts will flow in and out of your mind, but you will eventually start to recognize quiet, still periods, like a vacuum in your thoughts. These periods are what you are aiming for, and with practice they will increase in length, increasing the personal benefit of meditating.
That, really, is simple meditation. Once you start to feel its benefits, and see how easy it really is, you may well want to learn more from experts and study the different types of meditation. One thing is certain though, even simple meditation at an “entry" level, will open your mind to a new world within. A world most people want to explore once they have discovered it.
This meditation article was written by Roy Thomsitt, owner and part author of the Routes To Self Improvement website.
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