At a time when the Internet is a constant threat to productivity and there’s clutter in virtually every corner, meditation has a remarkable and undeniable value in your fast-paced life. Did you know that meditation can improve your concentration? And did you know that you didn’t have to wear yoga pants or chant repeatedly just to meditate? All you need, in fact, is your breath. For the beginner, meditation can sound intimidating. But here are a few basics that can get you started on the right track.
You don’t need to be in any special place to meditate. In fact, as long as you have the willingness and the concentration to focus on your breath, you will be able to meditate. You can do it while lying down, sitting, or even in a space you’ve set aside. However, you might want to look for a relatively quiet corner, one where there aren’t any visual distractions or too much clutter.
The basic technique
At this point, you’d probably want to know the different positions. In the Zen tradition, the position is zafu, where the person finds himself on a pillow, which is then on a zabuton, some kind of a larger mat. If you’re not flexible enough just yet, you can try the seize, where you can sit even in just a regular chair, preferably on a pillow so you can distribute your weight more evenly.
Now, the essence of meditation is in the breathing. In your quest to find the one best breathing technique, I’m sure you’ve come across many contradictions. Some will tell you to focus on an object, while some will suggest that you close your eyes. Well here’s one technique, from The Miracle of Mindfulness, that’s simple and straight to the point:
The instant you sit down to meditate, begin watching your breath. At first breathe normally, gradually letting your breathing slow down until it is quiet, even, and the lengths of the breaths are fairly long. From the moment you sit down to the moment your breathing has become deep and silent, be conscious of everything that is happening in yourself. (Learn more here)
How do you sustain your meditation practice? This ultimately depends on your mantra, the principles you live by. There are many ways to develop your mantra, but here are some helpful suggestions: 1) Seek inspiration; 2) Recite a mantra; and, 3) Do a guided meditation.