Meditation: How To Manage Your First Attempts

Meditation is no longer disputed as being one of the most beneficial complementary therapies available to us. As a wellbeing tool it eases stress, depression and distances us from entrenched behaviour problems. As a spiritual practice it helps us to build a practice of detachment; regularly disassociating with the outside world and experiencing the stillness that lies beneath. In all areas of life it can allow us to actualise our goals by making use of the clear, unclouded sight that is actually our real nature. You needn’t give up much of your time to take advantage of the incredible wellness benefits of meditation. Simply take ten minutes twice a day to keep still and mindful, and find a local group to help support you through your first attempts.

Before you get down to it, take a look at a few beginners’ tips:

Posture – this is one of the easiest aspects of the meditation experience to control, and forms the model for the mind to follow. When meditating it is important to keep a straight spine and upright posture, which is best achieved by sitting on the floor. Be sure that your hips are above your knees – in most cases this means a small meditation cushion will be necessary. As for the hand position, they vary according to the style of meditation you are learning. The best advice about this is simply to place your hands where they will feel comfortable for a long period of time. This might mean that you place them palm down on the knees. If it helps you to relax and concentrate, this hand posture will be more meaningful than a hundred elaborate mudras!

Meditation Object – the key to your meditation is the maintenance of a mental object. This means a phrase, sound or image that you can repeatedly turn your mind back to when it gets lost. Choose a suitable anchor for your mind, or experiment a while before committing to the one that feels right for you. In the case of the Buddha, he simply watched his own breath – a practice known as ‘Anapanasati’. Watching the in and out breath by concentrating on the rising and falling of the belly, or perhaps the sensation of air on the top lip are excellent ways to keep your mind trained to one object and prevent it from dancing about all over the room!

Length and frequency of practice – start with short sessions, as you’ll be more likely to do them! For people starting a meditation practice, ten minutes seems a lot more achievable than half an hour. Why not slot in five minute sessions whenever you feel the need – such a habit will break the ‘fear of the mat’ and build good habits of mindfulness in your daily life. When you are established in a meditation routine it’s time to start thinking about a desirable level of daily practice – two sittings of forty-five minutes daily is the pattern recommended by the masters.

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