Basics of Meditation
Part 1: Getting Started
In the same way that we prepare ourselves for sleep, but we don’t make sleep happen, we can prepare ourselves for meditation, and then meditation happens on its own.
To begin with, make a commitment to meditate at a specific time of day, every day. The early mornings before anyone in your household or environment is up and about is a great time for silent meditation. Some people like to meditate before going to sleep, as long as they are not so tired that they fall asleep.
Once you have selected the time, your commitment is to sit each day, no matter what. You can start with fifteen minutes and gradually increase it to forty minutes or an hour. It helps to meditate in the same space each day to allow a meditative energy to build in that area.
Another support to your practice is to create an atmosphere that draws your heart to the practice. This can be a simple altar, or beautiful flowers, incense or any environment which opens your heart.
It also helps to prepare your mind. Take time to notice the state of your mind before you begin your meditation practice. If it is particularly agitated, you might want to spend some time chanting or singing or listening to soothing instrumental music prior to meditating. In general, be aware of how you are feeling when you sit to meditate, and allow yourself sufficient time for the body and mind to settle.
Begin by meditating for at least 15 - 20 minutes each day. Keep a journal of your meditation and note down what happened after each meditation.
Vary your meditation practice from time to time, to see which techniques feel right. Over time, you will discover that you will intuitively know what meditation method to use at any given time. In this way, meditation teaches meditation. Here are two basic methods:
Method 1: Watching the Breath.
“Like watching the sky at sunrise: you don’t make the sun rise, you make yourself available and wait for the sun to rise, then you drink it its beauty” (Gurumayi Chidvilasananda)
The simplest form of meditation is just to be aware of the breath
• No need to change it. Just watch it come and go.
• If it seems boring, see if you are you really watching it -
• Where does it enter your body?
• How does it leave?
• Are they long, short?
• Get interested in breath. Without it you won’t exist
Method 2: Witnessing
“Meditate on the one who is meditating on you all the time.” (Swami Muktananda)
Begin by watching your breath. Then, as anything comes into your awareness, ask yourself, Who is it that knows this?
• If a thought comes, who is it that knows I have a thought?
• If your breath goes in or out, who is it that knows my breath is going in or out?
• If you feel sensations, who is it that knows it?
• Let yourself find the one who is watching all that is taking place inside you right now.
In establishing yourself as a witness, you begin to create a separation between you and your thoughts, and that will give you freedom.
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