I have been meditating on and off for about ten years and in that period I have been a Zen Buddhist and a Tibetan Buddhist. I have picked many different ways that one can meditate, and settled on the one that now suits me best as a non-denominational believer in nothing.
Before you even begin Meditating first you must prepare the room that you will meditate in. The object of your meditation will be to calm your mind, so first you must calm the room that you are meditating in.
Switch of the television, mobile phone, and any other gadgets that may disturb your peace and ensure you will not be disturbed. If you have a partner or kids, just tell them that you will be going to meditate for however long you plan.
Once you have turned off the gadgets and informed the potential meditation crashers, you can then, if you wish, light some incense sticks. You don’t have to but if you are new to it, then it’s good to use as many things as you can to help bring calmness to your body and mind.
Once lighted you may then turn the light down low. If it is morning or early evening and it is quite bright outside then it is better to have just natural light coming in. This will be easier on the eyes. Certainly not a harsh bright light.
Once you have set the scene so to speak, you will require something to sit on. Now assuming that you have your health and your body is fine then the natural choice would be to choose a meditation cushion. These are the options:
1. If you can handle it with your bum directly on the floor then that’s fine. My ass is too skinny and it hurts my legs, so it’s not ideal for me but it’s a good place to perfect the full lotus if you wish.
2. My preferred option is a meditation cushion and mine is a highly compacted cushion which means when I sit on it, I sit high. This is good for tall people so that the knees dig into the ground providing support. I will show you that later. If you are smaller then you may prefer a smaller cushion. The best option would be to try a few different sizes to see what suits you best.
3. If you have a back or leg complaint and a cushion is out then the next best thing would be a chair. I don’t recommend a comfortable armchair as you are likely to fall asleep but a small wooden chair with a strong back.
The Legs and the Hands
Now that you have chosen your weapon: floor, cushion, or chair, then the next thing to do would be to sit your ass on it. Simple. Done that?
The first object of focus is the back, and this is very important. Your back should be taught like a bow. Not too tight but not too loose. Initially straighten your back and pull back the shoulders like a proud soldier but then slacken it just a little so the curved spine comes out a little bit .
Now you can look at your legs and again there are many options depending on your flexibility
1. The Full Lotus: oh I wish I could do this one but I am about as flexible as a communist dictator. This basically involves taking one foot and placing it on the inside thigh of the other leg. If you can then drag the other one onto the other thigh then you are a very flexible person. There is a point to this, and that is, that the feet are resting on the inner thighs near the acupuncture points. And with all legs and feet in the right place they collude together to calm the mind.
2. The Half Lotus: OK, so like me you are not that flexible so you go for the half lotus which is quite self explanatory and just one of the above for me I can place my right foot onto my left legs thigh, and the left foot sits comfortable under my crossed right leg and that suits me.
3. The Any Old Way You Like Lotus : Basically if it is causing you pain and you can’t stretch your legs in any direction then just cross your legs how you like until you are comfortable.
Ok so you have a seat. You have crossed your legs and your back is like the bow from an archers arrow. Taught but not too tight. Now we can deal with the hands.
Again this is up to question there are many choices from the Zen style to the mudra style, to my style, which is comfortable for me.
1. Zen Style : this involves placing your hands in front of your belly and resting on the top of your thighs. You would place the left hand onto the inside of the right hand, then allow your thumbs to connect at just the tips. As they say in Zen, neither mountain nor valley. Sometimes you might want to fold a piece of cloth and place it in your lap and you can rest your hands on top
2. Mudra Style : I have no experience with this style and I see it in yoga centres but it wouldn’t cause you any harm to try, and you could also just leave your palms open which is equally relaxing. Just place your hands on your thighs with the back of your hand resting on your thighs and just allow the hands to relax open. If you wish just place the tips of your thumbs with your middle finger and now you are looking like a real yogi
3. My style : For me personally I have tried all styles and I just prefer to leave my hands palm down on my thighs. This I find quite grounding and also stables me but don’t lean onto your hands.
I think we are ready aren’t we ? Surely there can’t be anything else to meditation. What about the head ? Ok not much left.
The Head and the Breath
So you are sat on your seat, legs crossed, hands settled in your favourite position, back held firm, shoulders pulled back then relaxed, and now you have to deal with the head.
The best way I have heard this described is as if you have a piece of string coming out the top of your head and it’s holding your head up, your chin should be slightly tucked in, your mouth just lightly open with the tip of your tongue touching the roof of your mouth.
So you have your seat, you’ve crossed your legs, you’ve tightened your back, you’ve pulled back the shoulders, rested your hands, positioned your head, surely now you must be ready to meditate and yes you are but just one more thing.
What the hell do you look at when you are sat there for 5 – 10 minutes. Good question, well for me personally I look about 1 foot in front of me at the floor. I keep my eyes open, and normally they naturally start to close slightly so it looks like they are closed.
Some people choose to close their eyes which is fine but I prefer to keep my eyes open because your mind could wander in darkness and for me this is about trying to be present.
OK so we are ready to rock and roll ! or meditate.
You are sat as you would like to be, your eyes are fixed on the floor in front of you, open, closed, half closed and now what.
Some people now say but what should I do? Isn’t meditation about stopping your thoughts? or creating happy thoughts, and not having bad thoughts, shouldn’t I feel bliss?
Whoa steady on tiger it’s the first 5 minutes. My view is this that you do NOTHING with your thoughts. You do not create but just allow things to be as they are in your mind.
The only thing you should be doing, if you can call it that is just being aware of the breath coming in and out of your body. As a tool for focusing the mind, following the breath is a good option. You can be aware of the breathe coming in from the tip of your nose, you can feel your breath rising and falling in your chest and belly.
BUT please just allow things to occur naturally, you don’t have force anything, the breath, the thoughts, just relax into your posture and become aware if your breathing naturally.
Points to be aware of when meditating
Just be aware of what goes on the mind/head – good thoughts, bad thoughts, day dreams, thoughts of boredom, itching legs, sore back, just be aware of it and then always return to the breath,
If you find yourself day dreaming or too involved in a thought or discussion just adjust your posture, straighten up re focus n the breath and continue.
Well that’s it.
Meditation is about getting to know yourself, and in knowing yourself, you forget yourself, and in forgetting yourself you become part of the bigger picture, and that’s no self at all. hehehe