“Meditation is not forcing your mind to be quiet; it’s finding the quiet that’s already there.”
– Dr. Deepak Chopra (2000, p. 157
We’ll provide brief instructions for several types of meditation throughout this chapter. But first, here are the basics of meditation for beginners who are just starting out:
Instructions on how to meditate:
1. Body posture during meditation if you choose to sit
A) Find a comfortable spot and sit quietly with your hands in your lap or hanging lightly off to your side. No matter what you’re sitting on – be it a chair, cushion, or park bench – it should be something that gives you a stable, solid seat. If seated on a cushion or the floor, cross your legs comfortably. If in a chair, try to sit so that the bottoms of your feet touch the floor.
B) Straighten (but don’t stiffen) your upper body. The spine has a natural curvature to it; let it be. Your head should rest comfortably atop your shoulders.
C) Situate yourself so that the upper arms from your elbow to shoulder are parrallel with your upper body, then let your hands relax and drop them to the top of your legs. If your arms are too far forward it will make you lurch. Too far back and you become stiff. But with your upper arms at your sides, it will help you keep the correct posture.
D) Let your gaze fall gently downward, dropping your chin a little bit in the process. If you’d like, you can lower your eyelids or shut them completely, though it’s not necessary to close your eyes when meditating. Simply let whatever is in front of you be there without focusing on it. (Unless, of course, you’re practicing a form of meditation where the goal IS to focus on what’s in front of you.)
2. Meditative breathing
Focus on your breathing. Pay attention to each breath as it enters your nostrils and flows down into your lungs. Simply breathe normally at first – if you want to work in focused breathing techniques you can work those in later as you get better at it. (See our chapter on focused breathing.) For now, you’re just trying to clear your mind.
Make sure your breath flows easily. You don’t want to be forcing it. As with focused breathing, the goal is to narrow your attention so that it is attuned to the process of each breath. Some people find it helps to work in mental imagery, such as imagining each breath being a cool breeze flowing through the tops of trees and rustling the leaves.
3. Walking While Meditating
Walking outdoors can be especially beneficial for meditation and relaxation. Make the walk a pleasant, easier walk. It is helpful if you can walk in a nature setting, but just walking, even down a city block, can be relaxing. But don’t look for silence. You will never find it. Generally while walking, consider a
particular issue or problem, just one alone. Don’t worry about problem solutions, just consider all angels of what is bothering you.