Meditation Index

Preparation for Meditation

The techniques of meditation are very simple; anyone can do them. However, if you are new to meditation, you will doubtless find this step-by-step guide of assistance.

First, select a place where you can be quiet and undisturbed for as long as it takes. It may be indoors or out of doors, the important thing is that you must be comfortable there. Ideally, you should have a place that you use for no other purpose, but this is not essential. Few people have the luxury of being able to set aside a special room for mediation. Many people use their bedroom, but a word of caution here: if you have disturbed sleep, if you suffer from distressing or unhappy thoughts when in bed at night, then the bedroom is not the place for your meditation. A quiet study or workroom, or even the dining room if the family can be excluded, may be a better option.

Your space should be clean and tidy, with as few distractions as possible. Subdued lighting is preferable. Many people like to light a candle, burn some incense, or play quiet music. All these things can be helpful, but they are not essential. Indeed, they ought to be avoided if other people in your home might find them disturbing. A word of caution regarding the music - avoid anything with vocals, these are almost always a distraction during meditation.

Begin with a symbolic purification of the body. Wash your face and hands, and drink a glass of ordinary water. You should not meditate immediately after a heavy meal, as this in itself can be a distraction. Your clothing should be comfortable, not tight or restricting. Needless to say, it should also be clean.

Adopt a comfortable posture. Complex yoga postures are not essential, and indeed if adopted without long training can be counterproductive. On the other hand, do not get too comfortable; for example, many people find that if they lie down there is a tendency to fall asleep! A good posture for most people is to sit on an ordinary chair, of the type you might find at your dining table. Place both feet flat on the floor, slightly apart. Rest your hands on your thighs. Sit upright, do not lounge; you will find that you can nevertheless get quite comfortable and relaxed in this posture.

Close your eyes. Inhale slowly and deeply. Hold your breath for a few seconds - note this, a few seconds, this is not a competition to see how long you can hold your breath - then exhale slowly. Repeat this deep breath twice more. This symbolically and in fact will help to clear your lungs and your body of everyday toxins. After that, continue to breathe normally and steadily.

If you find it difficult to relax, try the overall relaxation exercise.

Then, when you are ready, commence the meditation.

Remember that no matter how far your consciousness may travel during meditation, your body is quite safe and free from harm where you left it, and you can return to it at any time. You should try to return to your body slowly. In an emergency, you may return quickly, but if you return too quickly you are likely to feel disoriented for a while. The proper procedure, and the one you should normally adopt when your meditation comes to an end, is this: become aware of your body, sitting relaxed exactly where you left it. Transfer your consciousness into your body, placing it inside your head, just behind your eyes. Then, when you are ready, open your eyes and complete your return to the present time and place.

Sit quietly for a few moments. Then, it is advisable to return yourself fully to physical reality by "grounding" yourself. A good way to do this is by having something to eat and drink - a cup of tea and a biscuit are very popular for this purpose.

Be sure to give yourself a clear ten to fifteen minutes before you do anything that requires your concentration, such as driving.

Meditate often - daily if you can. As with any other skill, the more often you do it, the easier it will become, and the better will be the results at the end of it. Above all, enjoy what you are doing, do not let it become a chore. Certainly, spiritual development is a serious business, but there is no rule that says you may not have fun while you are doing it!

Overall Relaxation Exercise

This exercise may be performed at any time when you have a few quiet moments to spare. It can even be used in bed, if you are having difficulty getting to sleep. Adopt a relaxed posture as described in the meditation procedure, close your eyes, and take three deep breaths in the same way.

Breathe normally and steadily. Be aware of your breathing, feel its rhythm.

Become aware of your toes. The feelings in them, the life in them. Concentrate all your awareness on your toes. Feel a glowing light suffusing them, warming, energizing and relaxing them.

Become aware of your feet. The feelings in them, the life in them. Concentrate all your awareness on your feet. Feel a glowing light suffusing them, warming, energizing and relaxing them.

Become aware of your heels and ankles. The feelings in them, the life in them. Concentrate all your awareness on your heels and ankles. Feel a glowing light suffusing them, warming, energizing and relaxing them.

Continue with your shins and calves, your knees, your thighs, the lower part of your body, your stomach, and your back.

Now start with your fingertips. Continue the exercise with your fingers, your hands, your wrists, your elbows, and your upper arms.

In the same way, relax your chest, and the upper part of your spine. Continue with your neck and throat, the back of your head, your scalp, your ears, your cheeks. Then your lower jaw, your mouth, your nose, your eyes and your forehead.

Be aware of the whole of your body at once, in an alert but relaxed state. You may now proceed with your planned meditation. Otherwise, just open your eyes and sit quietly for a few moments to obtain the full benefit of the successful exercise.

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