How do I get started?
You’re here, reading this blog. This is a great start.
Now, just start. Put your phone or laptop down. There is no preparation needed. Close your eyes or take a soft gaze and choose a point of focus maybe start with your breathing. Or if you may want to find a guided meditation to play through your phone (I will be uploading some to my website very soon) So just start today and commit to incorporating meditation into your daily life – even if it is only 2 - 5 minutes a day.
What is the point of meditation?
Meditation is a different experience for different people and it grows and evolves with the meditator. When I began meditating at a young age I would use my imagination and create during meditation using my mind. I meditated like this for years. Practiced many guided meditations, explored and travelled different realms of the mind.
Now my current style of meditation is to relax, focus, sit back and observe the mind and any distractions that arise within or around me. I also use meditation throughout my day in moments to realise peace and reconnect to an aware state of being. My meditation practice has changed and evolved with my life experience. And I am almost certain it will continue to do so.
Originally, it is said the purpose of meditation was to liberate the mind from suffering, experience altered states of consciousness, or connect to the sacred/divine. Nowadays, however, meditation is often practiced with the goals of physical health, mental performance, increased focus, wellbeing and personal growth.
What is the easiest way to meditate?
The two easiest ways to meditate are to either count your breaths you could use mala beads here (from 58 or 108 to 1) or to repeat a mantra. There are many mantra's to choose from.
When is the best time to meditate?
This really depends on your preference. And we can meditate more than once in the day if we wish. Consistency and commitment is the key.
I enjoy meditation at anytime of the day. Meditating in the morning is said to be better and more beneficial, as we can focus better, we are more rested, refreshed, and probably have fewer things going on in the mind. We can also set a better tone for the rest of our day and meditating in the morning if that's your preferred choice means you have completed your meditation for the day.
Sometimes leaving it until the evening can result in your practice being postponed or forgotten. But at the same time I really enjoy evening meditations especially alongside some light restorative Yoga and fascia release which I find helps me have a lovely restful sleep. Also, if you are a night person, you may find yourself more alert for practicing in the evening. But like I say your practice will be personal too you and any kind of meditation over time will be beneficial.
Where should I meditate?
Just as it is said meditating around the same time every day is recommended, so too is practicing meditation in the same place. It is said to help in focusing the mind. Your brain associates that place with the practice, so it may be easier for us to focus. There is less distraction involved.
I like to meditate in my preferred spot at home. But I also like to meditate anywhere as I enjoy the practice and feel comfortable there. However when we are starting out it could be good to stick to a familiar place and scheduled time. There are often times I love meditating in nature, at the beach or even in a busy environment just taking some moments to observe. So I urge you to try different environments too.
If you ate just starting out I recommend having your favourite meditation place at home, but from time to time try different places.
Why be limited to connecting with our inner peace only in one or two places? Meditation can be useful outside in busy situations.
Is Yoga a form of meditation?
Yes and No! The answer really depends on what is meant by “Yoga”.
If you are referring to yoga in the way we commonly do in the West, which is thought of as being physical exercise or stretching and strengthening, then it is not meditation. However, it can bring you into and/or be done in a meditative state.
If Yoga is understood in it’s original context, then we can actually say that meditation is a form of Yoga; Yoga means union. Union of the body, mind, breath and spirit. Union of the Yin and Yang, Masculine and Feminine, Palm to Palm... Yoga means Union.
The yogis practiced the physical movement and stretches (asana) to release tensions from their body, inviting them into a more relaxed state and enabling them to sit for longer periods of time in meditation. Which is why if you come to any of my Yoga classes we sit for a moment at the end of class and meditate. Marinade in our essence.
What is the best way to meditate?
The best way to meditate, is the style that best suits you.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to meditation. There is no fast track to meditation benefits. There is no ‘best way’ to meditate, just like there is no ‘best diet’ or 'best lifestyle'. Different techniques suit different people in different stages of their practice and life. Which is why if asked I would suggest trying various techniques and guided meditations, so you can then decide which one is best for you now and know that this may change... It's fun to explore and give different styles a go. And it truly is a journey of self discovery.
What are some good meditation techniques for beginners?
If you are starting off in meditation, try a simple 5-minute guided meditation. I can also suggest these top 3 meditation techniques for beginners; * Mindfulness (Ekhart Tolle, Alan Watts, Byron Katie, Mooji) * Mantra Meditation (Om meditation, Hu meditation, I am meditation) * Yoga Nidra
What are the best postures to meditate? Is it okay to meditate in bed to build habit?
The body and mind are innately connected, so they influence each other; the posture you take can help concentration, or can act as a distraction.
The ideal position to meditate is seated down, without leaning your spine. You can sit on a cushion on the floor or, if that is too hard, on a chair. Over time, you should try to use seated positions.
The key element of this posture is having the spine fully erect and unsupported (from your pelvis to your neck) and your arms and legs relaxed. As we are not used to being with our backs unsupported, this may take a bit of time to get use to and to develop the back muscles.
Though, it is definitely possible and good to meditate laying down also. In Yoga we can meditate laying down in Savasana which can also naturally then lead to experiencing Yoga Nidra. Also if you are in your first weeks of practice, or if you are doing guided meditations you may feel the urge to lay down or put your feet up. Elevating our feet slows down the heart and encourages relaxation. If lying down feels more comfortable for you, go for it. Whatever is most comfortable and will get you started is perfect.
It is said that the monks and yogis spent centuries trying different postures and found that sitting in what we now know as “meditation posture”, is one that helps us focus the most. That is the reason why we sit down in a specific posture. Your mind affects your body, but also, your body affects your mind.
What is the best breathing method for meditation?
As adults, we tend to breath shallow into our upper chest. For meditation and yoga, the best is diaphragmatic breathing, which oxygenates the blood and calms the mind more effectively.
After time, diaphragmatic breathing will become your default breathing pattern. Once this happens, and you consistently breath deeply throughout your whole day (not only during your meditation session) then when you do try to do the shallow ‘chest breathing’ again, you will notice the big difference it makes.
Both abdominal breathing and diaphragmatic breathing (which are not the same thing) are better than breathing through your upper chest. Yogis have known this for thousands of years and lately science has been catching up to researching the health benefits of this practice.
What are the different mindfulness meditation techniques?
The two main types are: (1) Mindfulness as a form of focus attention meditation: where you practice gently focusing on the breath
(2) Mindfulness as a form of open-monitoring meditation: where you develop a non-judgmental awareness of whatever arises in the present moment experience (including thoughts, sensations, emotions and feelings).
What are the most popular meditation methods?
Some of the most popular types of meditation include: Mindfulness Mantra meditation
Sound Meditation (Using a bell, singing bowls or gong) Trataka Trandscendental Meditation (TM) Vipassana Loving Kindness Chakra meditation Zazen Kundalini meditation Self-enquiry Taoist meditation Yoga Nidra
What are the different types of Buddhist meditation?
Vipassana Samatha Loving Kindness meditation (metta)
Zazen Koan Walking meditation There are many types of Tibetan Buddhist meditations
What are some techniques for advanced meditation?
There are several Meditation techniques considered to be more advanced.
These include Dzogchen, Zuowang, Kundalini and Self-Enquiry. However in saying this, any form of meditation can be basic or advanced… it really depends on the practitioner.
What are the most ancient meditations?
It is not possible to specify exactly, however many speculate that Mantra Meditation and Gazing are the most ancient meditation techniques.
What should I do when my body itches during my meditation practice?
This can be applied to various things that can come up. Our body and mind can seem to distract us from our practice. Hold focus and observe the mind and body play. Allow it to be but don't follow it or make a story about the distraction. If you find yourself in a story zoom out. Focus your attention and try not to judge yourself. Observe any judgement that visits and allow that to pass also.
Bring your focus back to the breath or object you have chosen. Maybe gratitude arises for refocusing and not becoming consumed with mind play. Notice that also. For those who are familiar with meditation may want to focus all attention towards the mind not attaching or becoming, just looking. This can be a great practice to access a quietening and stillness of the mind.
If the itch persists feel the itches and label it mentally ‘body itching’ or simply, ‘sensation’. Then guide your attention back to your meditation object. One of the beautiful gifts of meditation is training not to react. Showing us that what we perceive is one thing, what we think/feel is another thing and what we choose to do with it is another.
When it happens, see that you have a choice. To react, respond or observe. To scratch the itch, to wait and then decide how you want to address the itch or to just be aware of it. This may prove to be an exercise to realise your power in any given situation. Your awareness will get more acute and your self-control will increase.
Is there a form of meditation that is better than others?
Yes. The technique that suits you.
Is it ok to combine meditation with an affirmation exercise? Or should I keep them separate?
I would keep them separate, as they are different exercises and have different purposes.
Do your normal meditation practice and, at the end, practice your affirmations. They will be much more powerful once your mind gets quieted by the meditation.
If your nose is running during meditation do you wipe it or let it run?
It can be an interesting practice to just observe the feeling. Resist the temptation to act upon the impulse immediately. Create a space between the perception and the reaction. On the other hand, it can be a good idea, to have some tissues near you, so if you do need to wipe your nose, you do so mindfully without moving out of the meditative state.
All the best on your meditation journey, let me know how you get on or if you have any comments below - Lea x
Post inspired by my own meditation practice and course work for Meditation Teaching Course (Loka Yoga)