how to meditate?first What is meditation?
It is common misconception that meditation is something you do to relax. One way to think of it would be to say that meditation is a way of training your mind. The practice of mindfulness meditation helps you control your thoughts and feelings. It can help improve concentration, decrease stress, and make people happier. Meditation can change the structure and function of your brain so that you react less emotionally or with more emotional intelligence in everyday life when things don't go as planned or when others act in ways that are difficult or distressing for us. Learning to meditate brings many benefits. It can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve overall well-being, even reduce blood pressure and pain.
One way to think of it would be to say that meditation is a way of training your mind. The practice of mindfulness meditation helps you control your thoughts and feelings. It can help improve concentration, decrease stress, and make people happier. Meditation can change the structure and function of your brain so that you react less emotionally or with more emotional intelligence in everyday life when things don't go as planned or when others act in ways that are difficult or distressing for us.
Having the intentions of Good Will & Clear Mind during practice is a very important aspect in Meditation. Those who have the firm and strong intention to meditate will have strong resolution and be able to overcome hindrances to their practice.
Why learn to meditate?
There are various reasons people meditate: to achieve a relaxed, peaceful state of mind; to achieve a deep, restful sleep; to develop and increase the focus of their attention; to achieve a feeling of becoming no-self and emptiness; and to have insight into the nature of life. If you are considering meditation because you want it to help relieve stress or anxiety, you may be disappointed with your first experiences. Meditation may initially make them worse. This is because meditation helps you observe your thoughts and feelings without being lost in them. As we live so much in our heads, this can be initially upsetting for some people as it can generate even more inner chatter. As you learn to notice and observe your thoughts, they become less and less powerful. This can also create inner tension because you are now aware that you are caught up in the mind stream. However, once you have learned to let go of the thoughts, they no longer have as much power over you.
Practice offers numerous benefits
Meditation helps us become more accepting and tolerant of others. It teaches us ways to deal with anger and other emotions so they do not overwhelm us, or cause problems in relationships or work situations. It teaches us how to relate to others with gentleness and kindness, helping people develop an inner peace or stillness that softens every situation and creates a beauty of life for all concerned. "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." - Shunryu Suzuki
Meditation offers numerous benefits. It can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve overall well-being, even reduce blood pressure and pain.
Although the focus of this article is on mindfulness meditation (also known as Vipassana meditation), other forms of meditation may also offer you similar benefits. However, please note that not all types of meditation are beneficial. Some varieties can even cause harm to both body and mind (see Sitting Meditation versus Reclining Meditation). Therefore, it is important to develop proper knowledge and understanding of meditation prior to starting your practice (see Prerequisites for Meditation Practice).
How do you meditate?
There are many techniques of meditation. The most common types you will find will be: Mindfulness Meditation, Mantra Meditation or Focus on Breath Meditation. All of them can be found at the Mindful Meditation Centre . You can learn more about how and in what order to learn different meditation techniques, at the links below:
Basic Information about Mindfulness
Mindfulness (also referred to as Vipassana meditation) is a form of meditation that focuses on noting what's going on in your mind and body at the present moment, without trying to change anything. You become more aware of your surroundings, observing things such as thoughts, feelings in your mind and bodily sensations. Mindfulness meditation is a non-sectarian form of meditation, non-dogmatic and non-religious. It is a practical method to experience the pure nature of mindfulness.
Mindfulness has been proven as an extremely effective way of reducing stress, anxiety and depression. It can be used for physical (e.g. migraines, cancer) as well as mental health problems (e.g., stress and PTSD). It also helps us relieve pain and fatigue; making us healthier and happier.
Buddhist meditation is a broad term used to refer to any meditative discipline that can be found in the Buddhist tradition. While there are many different forms of Buddhist meditation, mindfulness (also called Vipassana) is one of the most commonly practiced types of meditation, as it often goes hand in hand with other Buddhist practices such as metta or mettā practice, compassion, loving kindness, anapanasati vipassana (mindfulness of breathing), kshanti (calming oneself), dhyana (mental concentration), samatha and vipasyana.
There are 8 limbs on which mindfulness can be practiced:
1. Mindfulness of Breathing:
Mindful breathing (also called in-and-out breathing or simply breathing) is to be aware of your breathing while being mindful. You can be more mindful when you focus on the in and out breaths, the different parts of the breath, and what condition you are in when you breathe. You can use this mindfulness to bring your attention to your physical experience and sense. If you focus on your respiration, you will realize there is a whole lot more going on than just taking a breath.
"Buddha breathed into spring water, symbolizing that we just need to be mindful of our own breath, whether we are aware of it or not." - Shunryu Suzuki
2. Mindfulness of the Body:
Be mindful of your feelings, emotions and thoughts – both physical and mental. Be aware of how you are in the present moment - your physical situation, where you are and how you feel. How is your mood? What thoughts and feelings do you have?
"What follows I call mindfulness of the body: our body, which we have received from our parents, is just like a log or a tree stump. We accept it as it is." - Samyutta Nikaya
3. Mindfulness of Feelings:
Be mindful of all that happens inside your body. Our feelings may be pleasant or unpleasant (e.g. anxiety, anger, happiness). We may have positive and negative feelings. By being mindful of our feelings, we can avoid getting lost in them by giving too much attention to them or to the stories we create around them.
"Before you act on any feeling, stop and ask yourself first: what is the wholesome action (karma) in this situation?" - Samyutta Nikaya
4. Mindfulness of Thoughts:
Be mindful of your thoughts without getting caught up in them or their nature – whether they are good or not, helpful or unhelpful. Observe your thoughts with awareness but don't allow yourself to get lost in thinking about it.
Mindfulness of Thoughts: Being mindful of your thoughts allows you to become more aware of them and gain control over them. It is better to be aware of your thoughts than being carried away by them. See also Mindfulness in Everyday Life, When You're Mad at Someone or Being Attacked Online .
5. Mindfulness of Speech:
Be mindful of what you are saying and why you are saying it (e.g., "because I don't want to hurt their feelings", "because they asked me," "it's just a habit", etc.). This helps us keep our speeches honest and clear, so we do not lie to others or tell half-truths.
6. Mindfulness ofmode of Being:
Be mindful of how we act, how we react and respond to things and people. This helps us become more aware of our behavior, as well as bringing us into the present moment with awareness of our thoughts and feelings, our body and mind. Mindfulness of mode of being gives us a sense that we are not only in the past or future, but also here and now.
"When you know yourself as you actually are, rather than known by what you think yourself to be, there will no longer be any 'I' at all. The 'I' will vanish." - Dhammapada
7. Mindfulness of Dhamma:
Be mindful of what is going on around you, and the thoughts and feelings that come with it. By being mindful of your surroundings and where you are, you can gain inner peace and balance from being aware. There are a lot of different Buddhist teachings based on mindfulness (e.g., Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta) so be mindful to take advantage of them for your practice!
8. Mindfulness of Effort:
Be mindful that you are always aware of your effort, whether it is good or bad effort, whether it's keeping yourself steady or losing your balance.
Meditation tips and techniques:
You can practice mindfulness meditation any time, anywhere. You can do it sitting, standing or lying down. If you have the space, you can sit on the floor with back straight and your legs folded. If not, you can always sit in a chair or lie down on the floor / bed.
But the key thing is to be comfortable and alert. Don't force yourself to do anything that causes you pain or straining your body (e.g., sitting on a hard chair for long periods of time).
Here are some general tips:
Keep your back straight but relaxed so that when breathing in and out, there is no strain on your body.
Keep your back completely straight when you're lying down.
Keep your posture upright and be mindful of what is going on around you – avoid leaning to one side, or putting your head down.
Breathe slowly, about 2-4 times a minute. Try to become aware of the spaces between breathes, and try not to hold your breath for too long. Keep breathing in through the nose and out through the nose or mouth for 12-15 breaths each time.
If you have time and space, you can use a candle or some incense to make the atmosphere more peaceful. If not, just concentrate on your breathing while being mindful of whatever is happening around you (e.g. traffic, construction works etc.)
If you cannot concentrate well on your breathing, then you can focus on one object in your room instead. You can use a small candle and light up your candle when you meditate.
You can also do walking meditation inside or outside to practice mindfulness of the body and movement. It's good to walk slowly with your back straight and in a mindful manner.
At the end of your meditation, think about what you have learned. You can write down what you experience during meditation to help you gain more insight into your practice.
Meditation Tips & Techniques: Here are some other useful tips on how to meditate, depending on which purpose of meditation:
When wanting to focus on concentration or calming your mind, try focusing on one object (e.g., candle or breathing) and try to keep your attention there for as long as possible. When distracting thoughts come in, gently let them go and bring yourself back to the object of focus (e.g., candle or breathing). When distracting thoughts come in again, acknowledge them and bring yourself back to the object of focus.
Practice mindfulness meditation regularly (e.g., once a day), but not too often (e.g., 5 times a day) so that you can give it your full attention and energy when you do it. Repeat your focus on breathing or the object of focus until you feel satisfied that you have gained insight into whatever you are meditating on.
When trying to develop concentration, try not to think about anything else other than concentrating on your breath or the object of focus.
When wanting to calm your mind, try not to distract yourself by thinking about things that are worrying you. You can focus on breathing or the object of focus until you feel like your mind is at peace.
Focusing on breathing is a good way to keep the mind from wandering away from its object of focus. If it wanders away, gently bring it back to the object (e.g., breathing) and acknowledge that you have lost your concentration. Keep bringing yourself back and try not to get angry or frustrated with distractions – just acknowledge them and bring yourself back to your breathing or object of focus.
When wanting to let go of anger, first stay mindful of any thoughts or feelings related to anger (e.g. hatred, jealousy etc.). See how these thoughts and feelings form in your mind, and see how they leave. They may stay in your mind, but they will eventually dissolve when you are no longer attached to them. You can also focus on breathing and maintain your posture to help you let go of anger.
When wanting to mainly focus on understanding yourself or others, try focusing on thinking instead of feeling (e.g., other people's displeasure towards you). See how these thoughts form in your mind and see where they go – like the thoughts related to anger, they'll eventually dissolve when you do not attach yourself or someone else too strongly with these thoughts or feelings. You can also focus on breathing and maintain your posture to help you understand yourself or others.
You can focus on your breath or an object of focus for 10-15 minutes, and do this 4 times a day. For example, you can do this in the morning before breakfast; after lunch; after dinner; and before bed. This way, you'll have a chance to get some peace and insight into your mind and emotions throughout the day.
Do not forcibly try to make yourself go into a certain state of mind or meditate in a certain way – if you're feeling fatigued or stressed, allow yourself to take some time out instead. You'll get the benefits of practicing mindfulness meditation regardless, so do not force yourself.
Developing concentration is a good way to let go of anger and other negative emotions. When you see someone or something that makes you angry or upset, try focusing on your breath or an object in your room – try not to think about this person/thing! You might lose your concentration if you think about that person or thing too much.
When wanting to develop compassion for others, try bringing yourself into that state of mind through mindfulness meditation. Be mindful of the thoughts and feelings that are arising in your mind, and stay with these thoughts and feelings until they dissolve naturally.
When trying to calm your mind, focus on breathing (e.g. through sitting or walking meditation), and try staying by yourself in a quiet place. Avoid doing things that are needlessly stressful or that make you feel drained of energy. You can also bring yourself into a calm state of mind by being mindful of the things that are happening around you (e.g., traffic, construction work etc.) while breathing – just pay attention to what is happening around you, and remain mindful of your thoughts and feelings as well.
Many find it useful to focus on breathing when they are trying to become mindful and calm their minds – this is because there is no confusion about where the mind should be directed and focused on (e.g. breathing), and it is easier to stay calm when breathing.
When trying to understand your own mind, try focusing on other people's minds. For example, you can focus on the thoughts and feelings of others – how do they feel? What do they think? Try not to give too much importance to what they are thinking and feeling, but remain mindful of these thoughts and feelings. Again, being mindful of these thoughts and feelings will gradually dissipate naturally if you do not attach yourself too strongly with them. When you notice that you have attached yourself with someone or something, take a break from mindfulness meditation (e.g., through a 10 minute break or a walk).
How to make vigilance a habit?
If you want to develop concentration, try meditating for around 15 minutes a day, considering that you can do it at least 4 times a day (e.g., morning, noon and in the evening before going to bed).
When trying to develop attention or awareness to things around you, try focusing on your breathing or an object of focus whenever you are walking. See how everything else in your environment takes place while focusing on your breath or object of focus – traffic moving at different speeds, people crossing the road etc. The more familiar you become with being aware of what is happening around you while focusing on breathing or an object of focus, the stronger this habit will be.
When wanting to develop calmness, try focusing on breathing or an object of focus before engaging in activities that you know will be stressful (e.g., a stressful exam or important business meeting). You can also practice this when you are already feeling stressed or fatigued (e.g., after lunch each day for 10 minutes) until you get used to being mindful and calm in stressful situations.
When trying to develop compassion for others, first be mindful of your own thoughts and feelings that form in your mind. See how these thoughts and feelings arise and see how they leave naturally – don't get too attached with them because they will eventually dissolve naturally if you do not attach yourself with them too much.
When you want to develop compassion, first focus on your own thoughts and feelings. See how these thoughts and feelings arise and see how they leave naturally – don't get too attached with them because they will eventually dissolve naturally if you do not attach yourself with them too much.
You can also focus on external objects (e.g., trees, animals etc.) to develop your compassion and loving-kindness – see how these beings are living, and think of the difficulties they have to go through (e.g., being injured by other beings, struggling for food etc.).