Many people who attempt meditation give up because they feel frustrated, bored, or unsure of what should be happening. Contrary to popular belief, however, there is no right way to meditate. In reality, there are as many forms of meditation as there are people on the planet. So instead of giving up, the practitioner simply needs to find the right type of meditation for them.
Put very simply, meditation is the practice of becoming still by focusing the mind on one moment, entity, sound, or image.
The Candle Meditation is a powerful technique for maintaining mental focus. This practice can be done while sitting in a chair or on the floor. The first step is to become fully aware of one’s posture. Sitting tall yet relaxed allows one to more fully realize the benefits of this meditation. Place a lit candle before you at eye level. Take a deep breath and gaze at the flame. Observe the flame’s movements, color, heat, and energy. Anytime your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to the flame. As you watch the fire, you soon become metaphorically and spiritually entwined with it.
Meditating on a Word or Sound
Those who are more verbal or musical may discover that meditating on a word or sound offers a smooth transition to a still, meditative state. Again, maintaining a tall and relaxed posture is a vital first step. Then, inhale deeply. On the exhale, mentally note a soothing word or sound. Example words include “love”, “relax”, or “out”. Possible sounds include “Om”, “So Hum” or “Ahh”. Continue to repeat this word or sound with each exhale. Eventually, the relaxing vibrational frequency of the sound extends throughout the body, leading one to a deep meditative state.
This is a tranquil meditation for anyone who wishes to become more compassionate towards oneself or others. This practice can be done while lying on one’s back, while sitting upright, or during a walk. In this practice, repeat the following words at a comfortable pace: “May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be free from suffering.” Once these words and images become easy to repeat, then extend the loving-kindness outwards toward others, by replacing “I’ with another person’s name (a spouse, a child, a parent, etc.). Practicing Metta Meditation is a powerful way to still the mind and invite more compassion into the world.
The Walking Meditation is ideal for the person who becomes restless or bored during a sitting meditation. To begin the Walking Meditation, find a place where you will not be interrupted. This can be a place of great beauty, such as a local park or a nearby forest, or it can be a more mundane location, such as the family room or the neighborhood sidewalk. Begin by standing completely still. Feel the breath and stand with dignity. Then, lift one foot off the ground, and as the step continues, become fully aware of the subtle movements in the foot, the calf, the hips, and even the arms. Feel each movement and truly be with each step. This can continue for five minutes or thirty minutes. Regardless of the amount of time spent in the Walking Meditation, awareness of the subtle movements of the body is key.
When the right object of focus is discovered, inner stillness can happen with greater ease. Eventually, meditation can lead to a deep sense of peace, relaxation, and well-being.
Books on How to Meditate
Meditation is a wonderful way to get rid of stress and help focus in life. For beginners, using a book that teaches different types of meditation can be very beneficial as different styles appeal to different people. Although the following books teach the basics of meditation, each one has something unique to offer.
Meditation Made Easy
Meditation Made Easy by Lorin Roche Ph.D begins with answering common questions about meditation including why people meditate, where to meditate, and what happens when a person meditates.
The main theme of the book is mini-meditations that can be incorporated throughout the day, such as Wake up and Smell the Coffee Meditation and Take a Hot-Cold Shower Meditation. Many of the meditations in this book can be done in one to five minutes.
An interesting section of this book breaks down the different senses with meditations for each including a “Salute to Touch,” a “Salute to Hearing,” and a “Salute to Sight.”
Learn to Meditate – A Practical Guide to Self-Discovery and Fulfillment
Beautifully illustrated, Learn to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Self-Discovery and Fulfillment, by David Fontana Ph.D., covers numerous types of meditation such as Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sufism. With more than 20 unique meditation exercises, Fontana takes readers through exercises step-by-step.
Learn to Meditate shows the many ways in which meditation can help with everyday problems such as stress and anxiety. It teaches about problem-solving, healing, and resolving aches and pains.
Meditation: The Complete Guide
Written by Patricia Monaghan and Eleanor G. Diereck, Meditation: The Complete Guide offers readers more than 35 meditation practices. Sections include Yoga, Taoism, Buddhism, And Creative Meditations.
Each chapter offers a historical background description of the practice and contemporary use. The authors teach how to begin each type of meditation with review tips at the end of each session. Meditation the Complete Guide includes a wealth of resources.
Meditation for Dummies
A well-rounded reference book for those seeking to learn a little bit about many aspects of meditation is Meditation for Dummies by Stephan Bodian. It introduces meditation to readers and takes them through the history of meditation.
Along with going into detailed information as to how to meditate, Meditation for Dummies takes a look at ten meditation research studies that offer scientific proof of the medical benefits of meditation. Included with the book is an audio CD with ten of the meditations listed in the book.
The Best Guide to Meditation
Another book that covers all the basics of meditation is The Best Guide to Meditation by Victor N. Davich. The book focuses heavily on what to do with the body during meditation with some informative sections about breathing during meditation.
In addition to covering traditional meditation, the book explores contemporary meditation as well with topics including Tarot meditation, the Akashic record, and Edgar Cayce. It also has seven Goddess meditations.
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