Meditation – For beginners!! Which method is best for you?

If someone mentions meditation, I guess your first thought is of someone sitting cross-legged, holding their thumb and forefinger together and with their eyes closed? Maybe they are humming? Is this something that other people do, and you don’t? Are you too busy, intimidated or stretched to meditate? Are you concerned that this is for hippy types and not for people like you?

You may be surprised to learn that meditation is increasingly being promoted to successful leaders and entrepreneurs to calm their minds, and there is increasing medical evidence to show that meditation can boost your immune system, improve circulation, lower cholesterol, ease chronic pain, combat insomnia, counter anxiety, reduce gastrointestinal distress and extend your lifespan!

Meditation is excellent for combatting stress.

There are other ways of meditating than contemplating your navel, and its worth while exploring some of the options to see what works best for you.

Contrary to what you may think, meditation does not come easy, it takes regular practice. But it definitely gets easier and stronger with practice. It might start out feeling like a chore but eventually it will be a pleasurable experience.

If sitting and concentrating on your breathing doesn’t work for you, maybe a simple walking mediation maybe for you. Maybe learning to block out the noise inside your head by listening to the sounds outside it, or is silence is too vast for you, maybe repeating a mantra or positive affirmation may work for you.

When your mind is racing, with so many things to do, to plan, to deliver, it seems a huge challenge to ignore the competing thoughts, to clear your mind and concentrate on just one thing.

Meditation helps you to stop thinking about the past and things that have been done, and to stop thinking about the future about things that might be, and to concentrate on the present. Some call this mindfulness. Learning to appreciate the simple beauty of a flower, a leaf, a raindrop, a shadow, a sound, silence in this moment.

Here’s some examples of different types of meditation. Contact me if you have other methods to recommend, or comments about your preferred style.

  • Basic Breathing meditation – How do I do it?

We all know how to breathe – right or we’d be dead? Its common sense isn’t it? However, do you know how to breathe right, or put more grammatically, do you know the right way to breathe? I was referred to this blog by a coach I know Karen Williams, and it provides some great tips for breathing correctly. In Carolyn Barber’s blog you can watch a short video explaining the breathing exercise http://meetrelaxlearncreate.co.uk/wellbeing/b-is-for-breathing-the-good-mental-health-guide/

At the end of your session wiggle your fingers and toes and stretch our your arms and legs, and gently come back to the world. Remember how dogs stretch after a rest, there’s no hurry.

What is it good for?

Breathing exercises can help you quickly access your ‘relaxation response’ so as to calm and soothe the nervous system. In the longer term we can use the breath to help our nervous system become more robust and resilient, better able to manage stress. The technique will get you centred any time anywhere.

How long does it take?

Start with say 10 minutes at first, and then work you way up to 15 and finally 20 minutes.

  • Mantra Meditation  – How do I do it?

Mantra meditation uses the power of sound and vibration to create stillness in the body and to calm the nervous system. Ultimately this transforms the mind. My first experience was in my Reiki training when a room of delegates chanted phrases together. The room was full of the sound and energy created and it was a moving experience for us all.

Try sitting comfortably with you back as straight as possible. This can be on a chair or on the floor. You need to aim to let your breathing flow smoothly. You can close you eyes to help you notice your breathing and to get yourself centred.  Take a long deep inhalation through your noise (feel your abdomen rise) and as you breathe out make a sound. The sound you choose will depend on the mantra you have chosen. Our Reiki group sounded “Om Marny Padme Om” [this is the phonetic sound] smoothly repeating it until the outward breath ceased. Then taking a further inward breath and repeating as before, until the room resonated with the sound. It wasnt necessary to synchronise the chanting, but it somehow fell into a rhythm. You can also say your mantra when you are on your own, and it is a good idea to repeat it at least 3 times with each outward breath. Keep going until you feel calm, then sit quietly and reflect on the energy flowing through your body.

To end, slowly open your eyes, stand and carry the sense of peace and calm as long as you can.

What is it good for?

Each mantra has a different sound and meaning, and you can choose them so that the vibrations created target specific effects to help to improve clarity, reduce anger, or reduce stress.

How long does it take?

Start with 3- 5 minutes at first, and increase 1 minute at a time until you sit and chant for around 10 minutes.

  • Transcendental Meditation How do I do it?

Wikipedia describes transcendental meditation as a specific form of mantra known as TM,  which was introduced in India in 1955 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1914–2008). The meditation practice involves the use of a sound or mantra and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day, while sitting comfortably with closed eyes. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi taught his meditation technique in a series of world tours beginning in 1957.  Worldwide, as many as six to ten million people are reported to be practitioners of the TM technique.  According to proponents, practicing the TM technique can lead to higher levels of consciousness and supernormal powers. The TM technique is made available worldwide by certified teachers. TM is actively marketed as a scientifically proven technique but not a religion, while there are sociologists and governmental bodies that have categorized it as part of a new religious movement. TM is taught in a standardized, seven-step course over a four-day period by certified teachers. The fees vary from country to country. In the United States the adult fee is $1,500, while prices in the United Kingdom (UK) are based on income.

What is it good for?

 TM is reported to be one of the most widely practiced, and among the most widely researched meditation techniques. It’s appeal has been described as lying more in its ability to truly relax without the aid of chemical assistance than its scientific research. I have a friend who undertook the training, he wasn’t able to tell me much about the content, as this is only available once you take the course. However, he practised daily for around 20 minutes, and he found it very helpful to help him deal with the stresses in his life.

How long does it take?

My friend practised for around 20 minutes daily.

  • Listening Meditation  – How do I do it?

Although you may traditionally think of meditation needing solitude and complete silence, you can also meditate by engaging with the sounds around you, working with the sounds and not fighting them. The idea is to try to experience the sound as a vibration. By practising listening you can interact with your environment. Try sitting comfortably and half close your eyes, or close them completely. Start noticing your breathing without trying to change it. Then “expand your horizons” to become aware of all of the sounds around you. The goal is to listen to the whole range of sounds, without singling out any particular sound. Hear quiet sounds and silences as well as the dominant sounds. If you find yourself labelling sounds, “that’s an ambulance”, “is that a bird”, “is that the neighbours baby crying”, gently re-direct your attention away from listening to a specific noise and try to hearing the whole spectrum of sound.

To end, slowly open your eyes, stand and hold onto the awareness as long as you can.

What is it good for?

This is a great technique for practising in noisy crowded places, on public transport, in the office, etc. If you have a particularly racing mind you may need to try to use breathing techniques as well, or repeat a mantra. Many people prefer the outward focus of this technique and come away refreshed, expanded and at ease with their environment.

How long does it take?

Start with say 5 minutes at first, and then work your way upwards by adding 1 minute at a time until you can do to 15 – 20 minutes.

  • Walking Meditation  – How do I do it?
Here, awareness is enhanced about the basic parts of the walking process, to increase consciousness in your daily life. The idea is to break down the elements of walking: lifting the foot, swinging it and placing it down, and in so doing it also becomes clear that each of these actions is a collection of sub-actions, where mind and body work in harmony to create movement. Walking meditation enables the link between intention and action to be clarified. There is always intention before action, and when we are present in the moment, we realise there is choice. Choices about how to live our life are made at the level of intention.
Find a private indoor or outdoor place which is level and with a least 7-10 metres of space to move. Stand in a relaxed position with shoulders loose and arms draped by your side or clasped lightly in front or behind, with feet parallel. Fix a point of soft focus on the ground about 2-3 metres ahead. As you lift your right heel breathe in, pause and breathe out – toes resting on the ground. Breathe in again and slowly swing your right foot forward. Place your right heel on the ground, breathe out and roll the rest of your foot down and transfer your weight so its balanced between both feet. Pause for a full breath. Then repeat the sequence with your left foot, matching each movement with inhalation or exhalation, and alternate for 15 paces. All the while the idea is to keep your mind fully focussed on your body, and say quietly to yourself ” lift, pause, swing, place, transfer, pause” with each step. After moving 15 paces in one direction, stop with feet parallel, pause for a few breaths, then turn slowly and pace back in the direction you came, using the same patterns of movement, inhalation and exhalation, re-tracing your steps back to where you started.
What is it good for?

This is a useful technique when you feel restless or agitated to quiet your mind and “ground” your body. It’s also useful to follow a seated meditation to ease the transition between quiet contemplation and the motion of real life. for practising in noisy crowded places, on public transport, in the office, etc.

How long does it take?

Start with say 15 steps at first in one direction and then back. This might take around 5 minutes. Also try interspersing 5 minutes of walking meditation with 5 minutes of seated meditation. 

  • Mindfulness Meditation  – How do I do it?
The aim here is to see things as they really are, more clearly in the moment. Sit comfortably and listen to the sounds around you while you relax, practice letting the sounds come and go without either holding onto them or pushing them away. Notice them and let them go. As you breathe in, think “in” and as you breathe out think “out”. As your mind drifts pay attention to what comes up, acknowledge the thought or feeling, spend a moment with it, then bring your awareness gently back to your breathing. This is about bringing your full awareness to sensations rather than rushing past them. If you find yourself coming back to the same thought/emotion/sensation try to give it a label – e.g. “pain”, “sadness”, and then bring your awareness back to your breathing. Then end by acknowledging the positive energy you have created and dedicate this positivity to others. Stand and try to practice mindfulness from time to time as you go through the day.
Have a look at this website for some helpful tips to help you to be still http://www.paddlingdownstream.com/how-to-practise-mindfulness-meditation-even-in-suit/. Clearing your mind takes practice.
What is it good for?

This is a form of mind training that is increasingly being recommended for leaders in businesses. By bringing your mind to the sensation of “hot” water as you wash, or “chill” of an ice cream cornet you are eating, you can really feel the sensation of temperature, you can feel the tightness of your skin as you cleanse it, you can taste the creamy sweetness of the ice cream in your mouth. If you feel an emotion you can observe it carefully, and perceive more accurately what your experience really is.

How long does it take?

Start with say 5 minutes daily and gradually add a few minutes to your session each day until you can comfortably sit for 20 minutes.

Find out more from Judith Sunley at www.JudithSunleyCoaching.com and check out my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jas1955.

If you have found this overview of meditation techniques to be helpful, or you have experiences to share about meditation techniques that you have found to be useful, please use the comments form

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Meditation – For beginners!! Which method is best for you?

  1. Pingback: Creative Intelligence: 16 Principles To Live By… | Mirth and Motivation

  2. Pingback: Time to Push the Pause Button « Honestgoodadvice's Blog

  3. Pingback: Mindfulness bits and pieces… « onbeingmindful

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