Friday, 23 August 2013

The Real Beginners Guide to Meditation

That's a big promise right? The "real" beginners guide.

Why is this such a great guide? Well you'll come to see, but the main reason is because its been written from the perspective of someone who spent months online trying to find the "right" way to meditate. If this is you, you simply have no idea where to begin or you've read so many different things you're more confused than when you started........?

This is the article for you.

We will tell you the "right" way to meditate, give you a beginners course, tell you what to do to stay encouraged and show you how to measure your results so you can see immediate gains in your life.

We answer all of the main questions you will have and get you closer to enlightenment than you have ever been.

Don't want to read the full article, get the key info at the bottom. (but we recommend getting the full article?)




Why do you want to mediate?


Well, here's a list of great benefits to meditation, but we'd imagine you just have something inside pulling you to believe meditation is what you need in your life. If you have that feeling, you're right, you do need it.

Some of the main reasons people start looking into meditation is because they have been advised to from a self help article, by friends and colleagues or you want to be the collected wise person, not the emotional angry person. Suggestions like 'this will improve/fix your life', 'make you more productive' or just just 'free your mind from an overwhelming burden of noise', are all true.

Meditation............
  • Enhances the immune system.
  • Enhances energy, strength and vigour.
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Builds self-confidence.
  • Resolves phobias & fears
  • Supports curing addictions
  • Helps control your thoughts
  • Clears your mind
  • Increases creativity
  • Makes it easier to remove bad habits
  • Increases Productivity
  • Develops will power
  • Helps cure insomnia
  • Helps you discover your purpose in life
  • Improves sexual performance
  • Increases the synchronicity in your life
  • Puts you in charge of your life

and so much more....


What is the right way/method?


Therein lies the most important question, well, this was the biggest question I had. What is the right way? It was a hard question to answer because there are so many kinds, and so many more intricate opinions within each. Here are a few types, but right now you really don't need to know details of any specific methodology.

  • Mindfulness.
  • Zazen.
  • Trancendental (TM)
  • Kundalini
  • Qi Gong
  • Guided
  • Micro Meditation (Desk meditation)
It took me months of trying the various kinds before I found the definitive answer.


So, now we tell you which is best, and ask for a small PayPal donation to get access to the course? No, the answer is both none of them and all of them, especially at this stage. Right now, you don't know which is best for you and you won't until you begin your practise, after a time you will just find yourself falling into a certain way. Right now, you need to understand the basic fundamentals and why, then work with that.

You only need to understand the simple key to understanding beginner meditation, that key is "Focus".

Meditation = Focus.

If you already knew that, Fantastic. If you didn't you've just taken the most important first step.

Meditation is both a practise and an exercise, just like physical exercise, but don't let that dissuade you. It's non impact and anything but exertive.

Just like physical education, to get better at something, you must repeat the exercise, over and over. Imagine someone who cannot run deciding to run a marathon, they do it by gradually increasing the distance and pace of their runs, but at first they probably can't even run for a full 5 minutes.

Someone who has come from nothing and can run for an hour will not only find benefits when performing the task of running, but you will find that you will have increased fitness throughout the whole of your life.

And so by the same logic, you now understand how repeatedly practising focus you will naturally improve your focus throughout your whole life.

OK................... BUT HOW DO I MEDITATE!?


I know I know, we haven't gotten to the point yet, but the context above is very important, so that you understand why you are bothering and that the foundation of your practises should be to focus.

So to answer, how do you meditate? you practise Focusing.

Some people focus on a flower, counting their breaths, a candle, a mantra or a voice guiding them, but the key as we said earlier is to focus on a single thing. You can pick one of these or make something up yourself. But It should be something that conveys no emotion to you and is repeatable. If you are thinking out a holiday or journey, this is great and you probably feel relaxed but you are using too much cognitive effort to reach a true meditative state. I know that the things we suggested are boring and you find it hard, that means you're doing it right. At first, you will use more effort stopping your mind from swaying to other thoughts, so don't try to go on a journey, as it opens up massive opportunities for your mind to wander. This is the exact thing you are trying to avoid. If going on a journey is right for you, choose a guided meditation journey and focus intently on your guide's words. Youtube is great for free guided meditations.

I like to focus on my breath, and recommend you do the same as a starting point. It's simple, it's always there (hopefully), there's no setup like having a candle with me, and it allows me to better control my breath as part of my meditations. With deeper, more relaxed breathing you better regulate your blood pressure. The benefits just keep coming!

The point of meditation is to achieve a state where you do not think and when you get to this state it is so blissful you'll want to stay here forever. It's not like dreaming, because even in dreams your mind is active with pictures, you are aiming for clarity and it will come.

Consistently thinking on one non emotional thing will improve your focus and with with it your concentration. since you can't think of two things at once (don't believe me, try it now), focusing on one thing means all the other thoughts clouding your brain dissipate. By having less to think about, you have less to worry about, this reduces stress, reducing stress improves your all round health. Are you starting to see how the simple of practising focus will fix your life?

What if I can't be bothered?


Yep, I hear you, I've been there felt that. It's a strange one to explain, how do you say, I can't be bothered to do nothing for X amount of time? Yeah, its hard, since you're actually doing less than nothing, when you're sitting around wasting time you are at the very least stimulating your mind. But sitting there thinking about a specific thing which you have no emotional connection with or interest in is really, really boring, therefore hard. So, first of all, know you're not alone.


Here are a couple of tricks to get you started

Trick 1 - Enjoy it
Now the best way to changing any part of your life, especially doing something you don't want to do is to first change your thoughts to it.We'll talk about this point a lot in our posts, but the basic premise is you have to enjoy it. Right now, you don't want to do it so you don't. But if you did want to do it. you would do it, right? That's not a trick question, you would.

To do this, repeat to yourself often, 'I enjoy my meditation' do it in the morning, in the evening, before your meditation, after. just do it often. You probably don't believe what you are saying, or think it sounds silly, but say it or something like it and say it often, if possible look in the mirror and say it to yourself, out loud if you can. Eventually it will sink in to your subconscious and you will believe it. and if you believe you enjoy your meditation, you'll want to do it. Right?

Need motivation to meditate now?

If you really can't get motivated to meditate, tell yourself you enjoy it 10 times. still don't want to, say it another 10 times and so on. You probably wont believe it, but you'll get enough push to do it today. Worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

Trick 2 - Make it more fun
This really helped me at first, I made it into a game, not with experience points or anything just a simple challenge to give the exercise some immediate benefit. As stated above, go with focusing on your breathing as you begin as it's just the simplest way. If you want to make your own challenge, don't do anything complex that will take your mind away from your point of focus.

I chose to count my breaths, starting from one i'd repeat, one one one.... as I breathe in and out, then two two two.... etc. focusing on my breath with the number. If my mind drifted off to anything other than my breath, i'd start from one again. This is great because it's simple, it keeps my mind busy enough with a slight challenge and lets me see my progress over sessions. And just to put this in perspective, for me the first time I couldn't get past 3 breaths without my mind wandering off, and most of the time couldn't get through the in-breath on count 2!

Other suggestions have been counting to 10 then touching a marker or counting how long it takes to fill your lungs.


Should I listen to Music?


No.

Yeah, simple question this. Don't listen to anything you know, anything that will cause you to overly emote or make you think at all. Nothing with words or verses, not even classical. Because music stimulates your mind and encourages creative thinking. Thats counter-productive to your immediate intent. Silence is ideal, as you need to bring your mind to one focal point, silence would support this. But again, boring.

Get some ambient sounds, just do a quick google search for ambient beach or ambient forest ambient storm. and you'll find numerous videos on Youtube you can stick on for background sounds. www.moodturn.com works well also


How should I sit?


This does matter, you want to be comfortable but not to the point you could drift-off to sleep, so don't lie down. Most people suggest sitting upright with your legs crossed or on your knees. I had issues with this as I got lower back pain and it was very uncomfortable. I just used a wall for support. But you want to be sitting on a flat surface, comfortably. Be upright so that your lungs can fill completely. Don't slouch, but don't be in pain either. It will be a little stiff at first but think-on and breathe into any tight areas and they will soon soothe. Some people say keep your eyes open some say closed, some say to softly gaze so you don't fall asleep, do whatever cuts out distractions. I go with eyes closed.

How long?


15 minutes, daily. Try to do much longer and you wont come back tomorrow, 10 minutes or less and you won't get near the point of being in a mediative state.

When?


Daily, Yes it's ok to miss an occasional day, "occasionally" I mean like birthdays etc, but I didn't have time because I've been at work all day then had to pick up the kids and cook tea shouldn't be a common excuse, you should be able to find 15 minutes 350+ days of the year.

After your first week of meditation, you will have already gained those daily 15 minutes back by being better at your normal routine.

In regard to time of day, well this one again depends on you, but try to keep it consistent. There are benefits to different times of day;

Morning - Great time, really sets the tone for the day not good if you struggle to rise early,
Mid Day - Good for people who have lots of meetings in a day, really squares you up for the afternoon work ahead.
Afternoon - Stressed at work? Perfect time, this will break the bond between work and home no more bringing stress home to the family.
Evening/Night - Good if you struggle sleeping, can't shut your mind down at night? now you can.

Is it working?


So you meditated yesterday but got angry at something today, meditation simply doesn't work for you..... If that's what you're thinking, sorry to say, you're wrong.

Like most exercise you are doing this mainly for the long term benefits, most of which you wont see even after they've surfaced. But your friends and relatives will and you will probably get numerous compliments as to just how awesome you are. When you start seeing those changes you always wanted, or absentmindedness is a distant memory, you know you've truly succeeded.

Please understand that you won't feel this way at first,  but if you are sitting for 15 minutes and trying to focus on one thing, you are meditating and you're much better at it than you were yesterday when you didn't.

You will be more enlightened during your first practise, the slightest thing you learn about yourself is a benefit. When I first started, I kept complaining to myself that it isn't working, I can't focus past 3 breaths, this doesn't work. But I kept going at it occasionally until my first Ah-Ha moment. Instead of complaining how little I could concentrate, I instead saw this as a realisation. I cant focus passed 3 breaths! That's pretty bad, and it really proved to me that meditation is something I clearly need in my life. See immediate inner enlightenment.

In the mean time a few of ways you can see benefit, Are you achieving a true meditative state?When you continue to focus on a single thing and give little or no attention to any other thoughts that come to your mind, your mind will become still, not really blank but still like water, don't try to get here, it will come and when it does you will know. it may seem weird but let it happen.

Another good way to describe this, is to imagine yourself as a mountain, unmovable and existing as nothing more than your basic form. Thoughts and other distraction are nothing more than clouds passing you by, their affect on you is so slight they hardly seem to affect you at all.

Try counting your breaths as suggested above, can your focus get to 10, 20, 50 100, a full 15 minutes without loosing count?

How are your breaths, how long does a full breath take, try extending them. 4 breaths a minute is a good aim, now try doing this consistently for 15 minutes. I know someone who can breathe in for a full count of 60 seconds and out for a full count of 60.

This will come naturally, and is very, very gradually improved, don't try holding your breath for 60 seconds, you'll pass out.

How do I get Started?


And now I ask you for your credit card. No, still kidding. We've set a series of targets for you to follow.

Stage 1: Meditate for 15 minutes once, do it today, do it now.
Stage 2: Meditate for 7 Days consecutively.
Stage 3: Meditate for 28 days consecutively.

Remember to say you enjoy your meditation every time.

By the time you get to 28 days, you will most likely have formed a habit, so its very easy to continue your practises, and if you've ben telling yourself you enjoy this practise, you will also believe it by now, enough to make you want to keep practising.

Want to keep going? Of course you do.

Can you get to a full 15 minutes without distractions, go for 20 minutes, 25, 30, an hour! Twice a day.

Now try some of the different techniques, a quick Google search will give you the details of each and you're probably leaning towards one of these by now anyway.

Key Points

  • Why do you want to mediate?
    • Its really good for you.
  • What is the right way/method?
    • Don't worry about that right now, just focus on your breathing
  • OK................... BUT HOW DO I MEDITATE!?
    • You focus on one thing for a period of time
  • What if I can't be bothered?
    • Try saying I like meditation 10 times. still not motivated, try another 10.
  • Should I listen to Music?
    • No, listen to ambient sounds like the ocean, rain or a forest.
  • How should I sit?
    • Comfortably but no so much that you would fall asleep
  • How long?
    •  15 Minutes to start with (no more, no less)
  • When?
    • Daily at a consistent time
  • Is it working?
    • Yes, ask yourself how you feel after each practise
  • How do I get Started?
    • (read the article above if you didn't)

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