When you learn to meditate, you are told to sit in a certain position. You are also taught to center yourself which means finding that exact position that gives your back sufficient support so that you can stay seated in this way for your whole session. You are told to wear clothing that is comfortable, so that you are not distracted by it during the meditation process. The problem that is often encountered by people is that they cannot keep the mind still enough to feel that meditation has helped them. However, you need to know that you are not alone with these feelings. In the paragraphs that follow, we will help you to overcome your difficulties, so that you can make the most of the meditation process.
The ideal position for a beginner is to be seated on a cushion. Your knees should be bent and your ankles crossed. Do not try to complicate the seating position by trying to tuck your ankles in as this takes years to perfect. Your back should be straight. You need to sway from side to side until you are happy that the position is the most comfortable position for the meditation process.
Place your right hand, palm upward on your lap and then place the other hand into it palm upward. Keep your head straight.
The Breathing Process
During the course of meditation, you need to concentrate on your breathing. This applies to Buddhist meditation and yoga meditation. Breathing in through the nostrils, you can even imagine that breath as a solid form like a flame and feel it entering your body. Hold the breath for a moment and then breathe out. You need to have developed a rhythm of breathing that is regular and that moves the upper abdomen in a pivoting motion as you inhale and exhale.
The Thought Processes
You are asked to think only of the breathing. You feel the air entering your body to the count of seven, hold that breath inside for the count of three and then exhale to the count of eight. Keep breathing in this way until you feel that it is happening automatically. The thought process will be concentrated on the breathing and nothing else. Many newcomers to meditation find that it is very hard to dismiss thoughts that wander into their minds and think that they are being ineffective in their attempts to meditate. However, this is perfectly normal. The difference is that while you are meditating, you simply need to learn to observe the thought and then dismiss it, going back to your counting again.
The difficulty comes when thoughts are allowed to continue or affect the emotions. The idea of acknowledgement is simply to affirm that a thought entered your mind, but you are not encouraged to attach emotions to that thought. You simple acknowledge that you had the thought and then dismiss is, going back to the counting process.
Not Being Able to Keep Still
Many newcomers to meditation find that they cannot keep still. There is a tendency for them to shift the body while meditating because the seated position becomes uncomfortable. In this case, if you know that you are someone who experiences this, it is wise to use the centering process to ensure that you stay comfortable. This is the swaying of the body that you use before you start the meditation process. You may also find that you are distracted into movement by the clothing that you have chosen to wear. Wear loose clothing that does not pull in at the waist. Kick off your shoes if this helps to keep your feet more comfortable.
Not Being Able to Concentrate
There are several reasons why you may find that you cannot concentrate. One is because there is too much outside influence. This means that perhaps you can hear the television in the next room or you can hear cars driving up the street outside your house. You need to try and find somewhere to meditate that offers less distraction or even meditate at a different time of day to find that peace that you need. Early mornings and evenings are perfect.
Another reason you may not be able to concentrate is because you have eaten your meal too close to your meditation session. The disruption to the digestive system may make you feel uncomfortable and it is wise, therefore, to meditate at a distance of several hours from your mealtimes.
Feeling that Meditation was Unsuccessful
People have expectations when it comes to doing something new. They hear so many positive things about meditation and expect these to be immediate effects of the practice. However, it doesn't work like that. Meditation gets better if practiced every day for a regular amount of time. During the course of your meditation, your heart rate will go down. Your blood pressure will diminish and your body is getting rest. If you are able to put thoughts out of your mind while you concentrate on breathing, you are also giving your mind a rest which will eventually lead to clarity and the ability to concentrate better. It isn't sudden and it doesn't happen overnight. Be patient with yourself and each time you finish your meditation process, write a journal to tell yourself what you think you can do next time to make the experience better. This gives your body a chance to transition from meditation back to normal everyday life without expecting the heart rate to change in an instant and the blood pressure to go back to normal.
Why a Group Setting May Help You
When you learn to meditate with a guru or teacher, that teacher is able to tell you when you make mistakes. You will also see, from the progress of other students, that your responses to the process are not that different to that of other people. You will be mixing with like-minded people and can encourage each other in your endeavors.
Whether you take up meditation as an extension to yoga or separately, yoga isn't a bad aspect to incorporate because it teaches you correct breathing methods and you are also learning how to use breath to strengthen the movements of your body. This is helpful to people who want to learn to meditate, because the breathing done during yoga is the same kind of breathing you are expected to do when you meditate.
The Overall Benefits of Meditation
You create a harmony between your body and your mind and the ideal situation is that your meditation takes you into resolution of problems and helps you to be more at peace with yourself. If you are living a hectic life, it helps you to lower your stress levels. It also teaches you to be more tolerant and to discipline your mind so that emotions do not get in the way of communication with others and teaches you to present yourself with a calm demeanor. If you have read this with curiosity, try meditating again and bear in mind the salient points of this article to help you to gain more from the experience of meditation.