Meditation methods

Understand first that meditation is not cogitation of any type or focus, nor visualization, but an emptying of the mind. It is a break from the burdens of thought, deliberation, or particulars framed with language or symbols. Visualization is also very useful, but is best referred to separately with that term. Think of meditation as the practice of peace.

Walking Meditation

Meditation does not require sitting. Walking meditation is great for those with restlessness and lots of kinesthetic energy (hyper). Do it wherever you have enough space to go in a circle, even a small one. You could even do this up and down a hallway if that is what space you have to use.

Start by focusing on the coordination of your rate of natural breathing with your steps. The average person breathes 12-20/minute. So that means you will be taking that many steps per minute.

As your breathing rate slows, slow your steps to match. Once you have a feel for this, add in counting each breath from 1 through 9, then starting over. Focus your mind on seeing each number as you count the breaths/steps. If you must, you can softly say each number out loud or mouth the word to help you stay focused.

Obviously you will be doing this with your eyes open.

This slow rate of walking can be a profoundly relaxing meditation, especially after 20 minutes or so. You might start with just 5-10 minutes at first and stretch it out from there.

Sitting Meditation Methods

It is not necessary to hold a particular prescribed position when meditating. Many people may need to get physically comfortable in order to relax enough to meditate. Use a chair or whatever position is comfortable so it is effective. If you are fit and can maintain an erect posture on your own then that is good too.

Many people will find they meditation best with eyes open, as in the traditional way indicated on the faces of many of the statues of the Buddha. Eyes at least barely open and focused on a fixed point keeps the internal random imagery from disrupting your peace. Others may find they need to close their eyes in order to shut off some brain activity. Do what works best at any given time.

The most basic approach is to bring the focus to the breathing first and takes some deep breaths to settle into your body. Meditation is a whole being activity, not a mental activity. So don’t think of this as something you do to your mind (head) or with your mind (head). Reconnect with the ebb-and-flow of the breath, the biological ground of being. Conscious attention can be directed to simply counting the breaths 1-9, then starting over. Or if you don’t need such a focus for your conscious thoughts, just focus on the feeling of inhaling and exhaling. This is a way to a kind of natural self-hypnosis.

It does take effort when learning this to sweep away thoughts that try to disrupt your peace — the drunken monkeys as they are sometimes called, particularly when involving random images and reactive impulses.

Just breathe them away. If you need to, imagine a special broom that sweeps them away, or a magic stream that washes them away. Then get back to peace.

Meditation is peace practice, not a mind activity. We do it with our whole being. It is a harmonizing of body-mind-spirit.

Lying Supine

I suggest doing this with knees up for the person who has back trouble or who has trouble stopping the flow of nerve impulses and discursive thought. This allows greater ease of deep breathing, rests the back muscles and essentially puts the body into ‘surrender’ mode, particularly if the arms are extended outwards. I have found this position to be especially effective at more quickly getting into deeper states of trance.

You might want to do this on the floor so that you don’t simply fall asleep as we tend to do if lying on a bed or couch.

Other Helps

Verbalizing an intention like “Peace, be still” can be very helpful. An affirmation of core purpose or a personal ideal can be amplified as one drifts into the meditative state.

Sonic aids like Tibetan singing bowls or bells can be very helpful for some folks to get into a meditative zone. An mp3 player playing such tracks with earbuds can screen out other sounds and get you more quickly in the zone. Others may need to gaze at a particular image or imagine such a scene to get themselves there. Some folks may notice looking at a particular color does this. Generally cool colors like purple, blue, or green pastels can calm down the nervous system. Try some things and do what works. It may change from time to time.

Results of Practice

These will vary from person to person, but generally consistent practice makes it easier for you to meditate in various conditions with greater ease. People generally report an increase in a sense of well being, peacefulness, reduced stress and/or pain, etc. Best to be motivated by what you notice day to day rather than by expectations for what ‘should’ develop.