Brandon West, Contributor
Learning how to meditate is the most important thing that we can do while we are alive. It is our greatest asset on the road to self-realization, inner peace, personal and spiritual mastery, and embodying our highest potential. As a great Indian Sage once said, “That is real which never changes.” By learning how to meditate, we learn how to access this never-changing, infinite, and eternal aspect to who we are.
In this guide on how to meditate I will answer all of the basic questions of how to meditate, what meditation is, why it’s important, the benefits of meditation, and a basic exploration of the process itself (what we are doing when we meditate). This is the absolute basics of how to meditate, so if you need a more detailed and comprehensive guide on meditation, check out the meditation techniques page.
How To Meditate
- Find a quiet place in your living space that you can return to on a daily basis. It is best to practice in the same place because it will help make meditation a habit, and because it will purify the energy in that place so that you can relax deeply and get the most out of your practice. Practicing somewhere where you cannot relax will make it difficult to meditate, maintain your practice, and get the most out of your practice. Silence is essential. The place that you choose should be silent (or as close to silent as possible), because only when it is externally silent can you learn to observe and perceive your internal state with true clarity.
- Assume a position that you can maintain. Whether you sit on the edge of a chair with your spinal cord erect (unsupported by the back of a chair if possible), sitting on your heels in rock pose, cross-legged on a cushion, or simply lying on your back on the floor, make sure that your spine is in perfect alignment. If you cannot achieve perfect alignment immediately, sit in the best posture that you maintain and be conscious of the fact that you are working towards better alignment. Meditation is an internal practice, and when you maintain a still position for extended periods of time this gives your mind a chance to break its bonds and become free, and it gives you an opportunity to experience yourself as pure consciousness. This is the purpose of meditation.
- Perfect your posture over time. If seated, tuck your chin in a little towards you chest (not on your chest), with your heart lifted slightly, and rest your hands gently on your knees or your lap. Tucking your chin in helps you to maintain perfect spinal alignment allowing energy to flow freely up your spine into the higher centers of the brain and beyond, and when your heart is lifted slightly from the inside you allow energy to flow unobstructed through your heart center.
- Focus on the point between your eyebrows. You can either look towards that point gently, or if this is uncomfortable, just bring your attention to that point. This will allow you to develop your powers of concentration and attention which are essential to mastering your mind. I go into greater depth of the importance of attention in my articles developing attention and what is meditation?
- Become deeply aware of your breath. Become aware of the perpetual flow of your breathe, in and out; allow it to soothe you, and on the inhale fill yourself up with peaceful, vibrant energy, and on the exhale release all tension of your body and mind. Allow the language of your breath to replace your thoughts, so instead of thinking, breathe consciously and allow the sound of your breath to replace your thoughts. Your mind will most likely wander. Don’t become frustrated. Every time you realize it has wandered, bring your attention back to your third eye, and your awareness back to your breath. Eventually it will stay there.
- Sit until the world becomes still. If I had to teach someone how to meditate in 6 words, those are the six words I would use. At first your body will want to move, fidget, get up, twitch, run away, jump, scream, kick, twirl, and do anything but sit. Be patient and maintain your seated posture. If you are uncomfortable, then readjust to a more comfortable position always working toward better posture (especially spinal alignment). As your body gets more used to sitting, then focus on moving less and less unless you absolutely have to due to pain or a fire or something of that order of magnitude.
- Patiently observe your thoughts, and detach yourself from them. At first when we sit down to meditate we will be so identified with our thoughts that we will be caught up in every one thinking that it is us that is thinking them, and that they are defining us. Yet over time you will recognize another, much greater presence within yourself: a silent awareness that is observing all your thoughts. That is who we are. As we patiently observe our thoughts and practice non-attachment with them, then we begin to identify with this silent awareness and we will come to know it as our true and divine nature. The more we get to know this silent awareness, the more our thoughts begin to slow down, until there is large gaps in between them of silence. In that silence we will find peace, bliss, love, clarity, and inspiration which is at the core of our being. This patient observation is the essence of how to meditate.
- Practice Meditation Every Day. If we sit down day after day, then personal mastery will grow in direct relationship to our powers of attention. We will become so powerful in our presence that thoughts will not occur unless we choose to think them, unless they are directly from source – the universal mind (our true nature). Our thoughts that clutter our minds just beneath the surface are there only because they have not been adequately acknowledged and processed. By observing them and detaching from them they have then served their purpose and are allowed to be free. As we persist in our practice eventually the backlog of thought is gone so that there will come a time when there are no more thoughts in our minds striving for attention. This is the point where the mind naturally stops and we get to experience our silent awareness fully. This is also the point where we can consciously and creatively think our own new thoughts to consciously create our lives, if we so choose.
There is really nothing difficult to meditation. It is something we all can do and master, and the mastery of meditation is what allows us to experience our true nature as pure, silent consciousness, and really delve to the depths of our being. It is simple and it is easy. You need only to sit down and practice it daily to enjoy its truly unlimited fruits.
Learning how to meditate is learning how to surrender a little more each day to your genuine self. It is a continual process that you master a little bit more each day as you discover more about yourself and your potential each and every time you practice. The universe is infinite, and so is your mind. As you learn how to meditate you consciously explore the infinity that exists within you.
We all already know how to meditate. Meditation is the natural state of all human beings, and we have had to work ourselves very hard to condition ourselves out of that natural blissful state of unity with the universe. Why do you think children are so happy? They do not over-think, they think when they need to and when they are contemplating something deeply to understand it and learn. Otherwise they are completely enraptured with the experience of this moment.
Come back to this moment and experience the bliss of being yourself when you are no longer a slave to your mind telling you what you should be thinking, what you should feeling, what you should be doing, who you should be, and who you think that you are. And instead, just be what you already are. For you are perfect. You always have been, but you forgot.
Learn how to meditate, and learn what it is like to be free.
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
none but ourselves can free our minds.”
– Bob Marley
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