Let’s take a close look at how you can get the most out of your meditation practice. If you’re new to meditation, I suggest you read the informative post, “Powerful Reasons To Meditate And How To Get Started.”
Selecting A Meditation Technique
It’s essential to use a meditation technique that feels right and flows naturally. We all have individual preferences and this certainly holds true when it comes to meditation.
So, I recommend you try a few basic meditation techniques and stick to one that feels right for you. It’s much better to “master” one technique than to be familiar with a dozen.
Five popular meditation techniques:
Guided meditation is a great introduction to the world of meditation. For one, it’s really easy to learn and you won’t need a meditation teacher. Moreover, you can download free guided meditations online and they usually feature both voice instructions and relaxing background music.
Then, all you have to do is relax and follow the instructions.
Mantra meditation is also easy to learn. Here the meditator uses a word such as ‚ “re-lax.” Repeat the word slowly in your mind, however it’s not to be repeated mechanically. Instead, give your full attention to thinking ‚ “re-lax.” Become one with the word, so to speak. Take your time and find your own pace.
Breathing meditation is an ancient form of meditation. Here you pay attention to the sensations of your breath. The breathing can be felt flowing through the nostrils, chest and into the abdomen. My recommendation is to focus on a point where the sensation is the most vibrant.
For example, if it’s easy for you to sense the breathing in the abdomen, focus on the sensations in that area.
Give the sensations gentle attention, don’t concentrate too hard.
To make it easier to become aware of the sensations of the breath it’s possible to place one or two hands on your abdomen and chest.
Body awareness is another technique preferred by many meditation teachers. A popular form is to focus on the sensations in the palm of your hand.
I suggest you close your eyes and put one of your hands on your lap, with the palm facing upwards. All you do then is to turn your attention to the sensations in the palm. Perhaps you’ll become aware of heat, cold, tingling, pulsation etc.
Give the sensations relaxed attention, don’t try too hard.
Biofeedback meditation is becoming increasingly popular. Here you meditate in front of your computer screen with a number of sensors on your finger tips. The sensors monitor how your body responds to the meditation and tells you how you’re performing.
I find biofeedback meditation both fun and motivating, much thanks to the exotic music and graphics. Of course, the biofeedback itself also adds to the excitement!
Biofeedback meditation generally includes elements of both guided and breathing meditation.
As you can see, there’s a meditation technique for every personality and disposition.
When To Meditate
I always point out that it’s far more important to meditate regularly than to put in a lot of time. Aim for quality, not quantity. In the beginning the mind gets tired after just 10-15 minutes of concentration, that changes with practice though.
It’s helpful to have a routine. You can meditate in the mornings, just before going to bed at night or why not prior to studying? 10-15 Minutes per session is a good benchmark.
It’s sufficient to practice once per day, however I wouldn’t recommend less than 3 session per week. The more regular, the better.
Where To Practice
I love the fact that you basically can meditate anywhere. Practice at home, in the office, on commuter trains, planes, at airports, in churches, parks, on the beach, in the mountains etc.
If you practice inside, it’s possible to put on some relaxing background music. An alternative would be to plug in an indoor waterfall. Nature sounds are most conducive to meditation. Having said that, silence is supportive too. See what works best for you.
You can also meditate with friends or someone you love.
If you like, you can light a candle or some incense. Whatever inspires you, empowers you.
The Right Body Posture
I have several physical impairments, including a whiplash injury. At first, I never thought I’d be able to learn meditation but let me tell you something: It’s the mind that meditates, not the body.
An experienced meditator would be able to meditate hanging upside down from a tree!
The most important thing to keep in mind is to sit or lie down comfortably. As long as the body is comfortable, the mind will be at ease too. Likewise, whenever the body starts to ache, the mind soon gets restless.
Any stool, chair, armchair, couch, bed, park bench or rock will do. With a few cushions you can make yourself even more comfortable.
If you’re okay with meditating on the floor, you may find it easier to sit on a cushion. Unless your knees touch the floor use small cushions for support.
Always meditate with your back straight, which has a positive effect on the flow of mental energy through the body. In addition, an alert body makes for an alert mind.
Further, sitting in advanced meditation postures boost mental energy. An effective alternative is to meditate with your hands or finger tips joined.
The Importance Of Relaxing
Never push yourself or strive for deep concentration and inner-peace, it won’t work. Instead, relax your body and the mind will follow. The trick is to give your meditation object relaxed attention.
If you find it difficult to relax, try lying down. You can meditate lying down on your back or on the side.
Best of luck!
Axel Gjertsen is a former Buddhist monk and lives in Thailand. He runs axel g which is a personal development site with a focus on meditation.
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