Someone emailed me asking for instructions in getting started with meditation, and so I wrote up the following super simple directions.
If you are just getting started with meditation, then I would suggest keeping it very, very simple. Here are some tips:
- Find a comfortable sitting position for you. It is OK to use a chair or a cushion on the floor, whichever is more comfortable for you. It is also OK if you are slightly reclined as long as your spine, neck and head are all in a straight line. It helps to have a particular spot and chair or cushion that you use and always meditate there whenever you can (although it is also fine to meditate wherever you are if the spirit moves you). You can decorate that spot in your home with flowers, candles or other sacred objects if you like.
- The easiest thing to focus on is your own breath. You can simply notice the sensations of your breath going in and out of your nose. Anytime your mind wanders, then gently bring it back to the breath. It is completely normal for the mind to wander a lot, just keep bringing it back to the breath. You do not need to change the breath, or breathe more deeply. Just notice the sensations in your nose as you breathe normally.
- It helps to stay as still physically as possible throughout the meditation, and in addition, it can help to keep your eyes under your closed eyelids still also. Just let your eyes sink into their sockets and remain stationary.
- Start with whatever amount of time is comfortable and gradually build up the length of time that you sit. You may discover that longer meditations have unique effects, but allow yourself to increase the time by just a few minutes every week or so, to allow your body and mind to adjust, and to build a steady habit without getting overwhelmed or discouraged. Note added: Recent neuroscience research has shown that there is much more benefit to longer meditation sessions up to an hour or more at a time. This may seem like a lot to someone just getting started, but once you experience the more powerful effects of longer meditations, you may find that you want to meditate for longer at a time. Definitely, I would suggest doing one long meditation each day instead of two shorter periods of meditation.
- At first, I found it helpful to meditate either first thing in the morning and/or the very last thing at night. This is an easy way to make it a regular part of every single day, as there is always more time at the beginning and end of the day if you just get up earlier or go to bed a little later.
- The only measure of whether it was a "good" meditation is if you stayed on the chair/cushion for the entire time. Meditation has its positive effects through repetition, and so even if your mind wanders a lot or you think nothing is happening, if you are still sitting on your cushion when the timer goes off, then it was a "good" meditation.
- If you want to also add a simple breathing technique, then I would suggest doing alternate nostril breathing for 10 minutes or so, just before you meditate, then simply follow the breath for your meditation. Here is a video that shows this technique.
I hope this is helpful.