Meditation 101: How to Start
We mentioned the benefits of meditation in the article: Finding Clarity & Inner Stillness.
If meditation is new to you, this article suggests several ways how you can start today. These suggestions are all based on my personal experience testing out various techniques over the years. I have personally found these to be helpful and hope that they can add value to your wellbeing.
- Find a comfortable place. Sit with your back straight. It’s important that you are not lying down or slouching as you might fall sleep. Make sure you won’t be disturbed by closing the door and turning off or placing the phone in silent mode.
- Let your hands rest naturally and comfortably in your lap, or on top of each other.
- Close your eyes.
- Start breathing deeply and fully, eventually to a natural breathing rhythm.
- Focus on your breath and nothing else.
- When a thought comes, acknowledge the thought, let it pass, and go back to focusing on your breath.
2. “Being with Sound”, An alternative technique to the above:
- Find really calming music, either light classical or nature music. I recommend Stan Richardson’s Shakuhachi Meditation Music (Click here for digital mp3 purchases).
- Do A-C from above.
- Focus on the sound of music and nothing else. Put all your attention on the sound.
- When a thought comes, acknowledge it, let it pass, and go back to focusing on the sound.
3. “Nithya Dhyan“. This is a beautiful 35 minute guided meditation designed by Nithyananda. After practicing meditation for 10 years, this is the one I follow regularly. It consists of five-part meditation taking seven minutes each. Each step is designed to help you go deeper and calm the noise in your mind. Techniques for each step originate from Tibetan Buddhist, ancient Christianity, Vedanta, Zen Buddhism, and Sufism. You can order the CD for the guided meditation here ($10).
4. Guided Meditations by Deepak Chopra. This is a great guided meditation CD for beginners. Techniques on gratitude and forgiveness are very enlightening. If you are serious about meditating or have experiences with other techniques, these mediations may not feel as effective for you. Give yourself an hour or two to go through this CD the first time, to identify which of the meditations you connect most with. Build a routine around those particular mediations.
5. Local Meditation Groups. I found it helpful, especially when starting out to find a group of people who regularly meditate together. It helps to keep the energy and momentum going for your own practices, but also, I’ve found the energy field to be more intense when I am sharing the experience with others people, both friends and strangers. It’s always so calming to sit together with a group of peaceful people. I practice with a group on Sunday mornings in Mercer Island, 2-3 times a month. For me, leaving the weekly satsang feels like leaving a day at the spa. I feel refreshed and centered. Here are some ideas to find a group near you:
- Zen meditation group – They usually have group zazen sessions several times a week with sessions between 30-60 minutes long. The hours for these (in my area) tend to be quite early in the morning.
- Buddhist temples. Try doing a google search for a Buddhist temple in your local area. They typically have group meditation sessions several times a day. Lots of options in terms of time slot. The techniques may vary at different temples, but the underlying purpose is the same. In Seattle, I really liked Sakya Monastery, a Tibetan monastery.
- Life Bliss Foundation weekly Satsangs. Typically gathering starts with a video on life issues and consciousness, ending with Nithya Dhyan.
- Eckhart Tolle Silent Groups – Typical format consist of silent meditation for 10-15 minutes at the start and end of a meet-up. Including a 30-60 minute video in between. You can find a list of contacts for your city from eckharttolle.com or check if there’s a local meetup in your area.
- Meetup.com Groups – Meetup.com is pretty cool for finding local interest groups with in-person gatherings. Try doing a search for the word “meditation” in your area code.
For the wellbeing of your soul, take five minutes to be still, be quiet and let your mind rest. Slowly move up to ten minutes and higher. Create a habit by regularly meditating over several weeks and notice the effect on your life. Cheers to your wellbeing!
* For First time sitters: i know it can be challenging to sit and wait without doing anything at the beginning, but keep going, I promise you will notice the difference. I am very interested in how you feel during and after your first try. Please share your experiences with me. I’d love to hear them.