Follow your breathing. The most basic and universal of all meditation techniques, breathing meditation is a great place to start your practice. Pick a spot above your navel and focus on that spot with your mind. Become aware of the rising and falling of your abdomen as you breathe in and out. Don’t make a conscious effort to change your breathing patterns, just breathe normally.
- Try to focus on your breathing and only your breathing. Don’t think about your breathing or pass any sort of judgment of it (e.g. that breath was shorter than the last one), just attempt to know it and be aware of it.
- Some mental images which might help you include: imagining a coin sitting on the spot above your navel, rising and falling with your breath; imagining a buoy floating in the ocean, bobbing up and down with the swell and lull of your breathing; or imagining a lotus flower sitting in your belly, unfurling its petals with every intake of breath.
- Don’t worry if your mind starts to wander – you are a beginner and, like anything, becoming good at meditation takes practice. Just make an effort to refocus your mind on your breathing and try to think of nothing else. Drown out the chatter and attempt to clear your mind
Clear your mind.
- To meditate, you must focus on one thing maximum
- If you’re a beginner, it might help to focus on one thing, like a mantra or visual object. More advanced meditators may try to clear their minds completely.
Repeat a mantra. Mantra meditation is another common form of meditation, which involves repeating a mantra (a sound, word or phrase) over and over, until you silence the mind and enter a deep meditative state. The mantra can be anything you choose, as long as it is easy to remember.
- Some good mantras to start out with include words like one, peace, calm, tranquil, and silence. If you want to use more traditional mantras, you can use the word “Om” which symbolizes omnipresent consciousness, or the phrase “Sat, Chit, Ananda” which means “Existence, Consciousness, Bliss”.
- In Sanskrit, the word mantra means “instrument of the mind”. The mantra is an instrument which creates vibrations in the mind, allowing you to disconnect from your thoughts and enter a deeper state of consciousness.
- Silently repeat the mantra over and over to yourself as you meditate, allowing the word or phrase to whisper through your mind. Don’t worry if your mind wanders off, just refocus your attention and return to repeating the word.
- As you enter a deeper level of awareness and consciousness, it may become unnecessary to continue repeating the mantra.
Concentrate on a simple visual object. In a similar way to using a mantra, you can use a simple visual object to fill your mind and allow you to reach a level of deeper consciousness. This is a form of open-eye meditation, which many people find easier when they have something to focus their gaze on.
- The visual object can be anything you wish, though many people find the flame of a lit candle particularly pleasant. Other possible objects include crystals, flowers, and pictures or statues of divine beings, such as the Buddha.
- Place the object at eye level, so you don’t need to strain your head and neck to view it. Gaze at it and nothing else, until your peripheral vision starts to dim and the object consumes your vision.
- Once you are focused entirely on the object, with no other stimuli reaching your brain, you should feel a sense of profound serenity.
Practice visualization. Visualization is another popular meditation technique, which involves creating a peaceful place in your mind and exploring it, until you reach a state of complete calm. The place can be anywhere you like – however, it should not be entirely real, it should be unique and personalized for you.
- The place you visualize could be a warm, sandy beach, a flower-filled meadow, a quiet forest or even a comfortable sitting room with a roaring fire. Whatever place you choose, allow it to be your sanctuary.
- Once you have entered your sanctuary, allow yourself to explore. There’s no need to “create” your surroundings, they are already there. Allow them to come to the forefront of your mind.
- Take in the sights, sounds and scents of your surroundings – feel the fresh breeze against your face, or the heat of the flames warming your body. Enjoy the space for as long as you wish, allowing it to naturally expand and become more tangible. When you are ready to leave, take a few deep breaths, then open your eyes.
- Know that you can come back to this same place the next time you meditate to visualization, or you can simply create a new space. Any space you create will be unique to you and a reflection of your individual personality.
Do a body scan. Doing a body scan involves focusing on each individual body part in turn and consciously relaxing it. It is a simple meditation technique which allows you to relax the mind as you relax the body.
- Close your eyes and pick a starting point on your body, usually the toes. Concentrate on whatever sensations you can feel in your toes, and make a conscious effort to relax any contracted muscles and release any tension or tightness. Once the toes are fully relaxed, move on to your feet and repeat the relaxation process.
- Continue along your body, moving upwards from your feet to your calves, knees, thighs, buttocks, hips, abdomen, chest, back, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, neck, face, ears and top of your head. Take as long as you want.
- Once you have completed the relaxation of each individual body part, focus on your body as a whole and enjoy the sensation of calmness and looseness you have achieved. Focus on your breathing for several minutes before coming out of your meditation practice.
Try heart chakra meditation. The heart chakra is one of seven chakras, or energy centers, located within the body. The heart chakra is located in the center of the chest and is associated with love, compassion, peace and acceptance. Heart chakra meditation involves getting in touch with these feelings and sending them out into the world.
- To begin, close your eyes and rub the palms of your hands together to create warmth and energy. Then, place your right hand on the center of your chest, over your heart chakra, and place the left hand on top.
- Take a deep breath and as you exhale, say the word “yam”, which is the vibration associated with the heart chakra. As you do this, imagine a glowing green energy radiating from your chest and into your palms.
- This green energy is love, life and whatever other positive emotions you are feeling at that moment. When you are ready, take your hands from your chest and allow the energy to escape from your palms, sending your love to your loved ones and the world.
- Feel your body from the inside. Can you feel the energy field in your body, especially in your arms and legs? If you don’t feel it, it’s fine. But think: How are we able to move different parts of the body? It’s the energy field that flows in our body. Focusing your attention on that energy field will not only help you stay in the present but also will help you connect with your Being and flow of life in you.
Walking meditation is alternate form of meditation which involves observing the movement of the feet and becoming aware of your body’s connection to the earth. If you plan on performing long, seated meditation sessions, it is a good idea to break them up up with some walking meditation.
- Choose a quiet location to practice your walking meditation, with as few distractions as possible. The space doesn’t need to be very large, but you should be able to walk at least seven paces in a straight line before needing to turn around. Remove your shoes, if possible.
- Holding your head up with your gaze directed straight ahead, and your hands clasped together in front of you. Take a slow, deliberate step with your right foot. Forget about any sensations or feelings in the foot and try to concentrate on the movement itself. After taking the first step, stop for a moment before taking the next. Only one foot should be moving at any given time.
- When you reach the end of your walking path, stop completely, with your feet together. Then, pivot on the right foot and turn around. Continue walking in the opposite direction, using the same slow, deliberate movements as before.
- While practicing walking meditation, try to focus on the movement of the feet and nothing else, in the same way that you focus on the rising and falling of your breath during breathing meditation. Try to clear your mind and become aware of the connection between your foot and the earth below.