Beginner’s guide to controlling your mind through Meditation

Meditation is no longer the distant mystic practice it once seemed. Nowadays there are multiple scientific proofs of its effectiveness. Modern psychology has embraced it as a healing technique, and traditional meditation and mindfulness are important tools for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, to name just one example. It seems that the West is growing to accept what has been known in the East for centuries; the fact that you benefit from controlling your own mind.

Meditation is the practice of being still and consciously relaxed, while consciously directing your own mind. For this, it is essential to have a mental ‘anchor’ that you can return to whenever your thoughts run away from you. This ‘anchor’ could be a mantra, an image, or the sensation of your own breath. If you choose to ‘watch the breath’, pay close attention to the temperature of air when it enters, and the temperature when it leaves. Slowly track the course of the breath through your nostrils, to the back of your throat, to the lungs and back again. Your sense of wellness and relaxation will increase as you stick with this.

It is important not to put pressure on yourself when meditating. Do not chastise yourself for failing to keep focus – this will only make the concentration harder. Remember that meditation is a practice of ‘letting go’, or ‘not doing’; therefore, there is nothing on earth you can do to force success! It is best by far to seek out a meditation group or experienced practitioner in order to guide you as you take the first steps. Many complementary therapists have this skill, so if there is no Buddhist or meditation group in your community, it might be worth calling a few to discuss the possibility.

When you do feel ready to start, make things as easy for yourself as possible. Choose a time of day when your head is clear (most people find early morning is best). Wear comfortable clothes, and choose a comfortable location where you feel safe and will not be interrupted. It is advisable to put aside a special corner of our house for this purpose – returning to this space will help you build an energy centre in which you can relax. Some people find it easier to use a ‘sound background’ to start off with. You could use ambient meditation music or perhaps go outside and connect with the sounds of nature. In meditation, no attempt is wrong. It is all a learning process where you find exactly what works for you. When you find your own way in to meditation, you can achieve a wonderful sense of wellbeing.

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