Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

Monday, September 28, 2009

How to Meditate: the Easy Way

I'm always teaching people how to meditate – by what I think is the easiest way.  But why learn in the first place?

Meditation is the foundation of all energy work. It's not just a method of relaxation, though it is that too and regular practice can greatly reduce stress. Do it consistently, and you'll also find that your intuition increases and you have more energy for your activities. You might get insights during your meditation; even more likely, you'll find them occurring at other times.

It has been said that prayer is talking to God; meditation is listening for God. (Or the Universe, one's Higher Self, one's guides, whatever.)

There are various methods, some very elaborate and/or time-consuming. If you have a method that you like, that's fine. If not, here is the way I think is easiest -

1. Arrange to be undisturbed. (Phone turned off, etc.)

2. Sit on a chair that supports your back, with your feet flat on the floor and your hands on your lap palms up, with thumb and first finger lightly touching. This is a mudra (hand gesture) that promotes relaxation. Some people think it also prevents unwanted energies from entering your space while you are in a relaxed and vulnerable state. Another way to do that would be to create sacred space (see previous blog) and meditate inside it.

3. Close your eyes and observe your breathing. You don't have to do anything special with your breathing. Let it be however it is and do whatever it does, and simply observe it.

4. Be light and easy about this. Don't concentrate grimly; that defeats the purpose.

5. Your mind will wander. Don't even try to still your thoughts. Maybe some great adepts can do that after years of practice; most of us can't and we don't even need to. When you notice that you're off on some train of thought, don't bash yourself up. Just, gently and without struggle, bring your attention back to your breath. I repeat – GENTLY AND WITHOUT STRUGGLE.

6. You will also get distracted by things like noises or itches. Again, as soon as you notice you have become distracted, gently and without struggle bring your attention back to your breath.

7. When you're ready to stop, make sure you're looking down, and open your eyes slowly. You'll be deeper than you think, and the light can be quite a shock.

How long should you meditate for? And how often?

It depends. Some gurus say three hours a day, but we won't even go there. (Not if you're holding down a job, raising a family, or just trying to have a life.) The Transcendental Meditation people recommend 20 minutes twice a day, before breakfast and lunch. Even that can be a bit much for some of us, but it's good if you can manage it. I don't think any more than that is necessary. 10 minutes once a week is better than nothing; 10 minutes once a day is better still. Find what works for you, on the principle that little and often is better than a huge amount once in a while (you know - just like physical exercise).

Ian Gawler, an Australian who cured his own cancer with the help of meditation and now teaches it to other cancer patients and their carers, advises busy people to 'meditate in the spaces'. This is good advice if you already know how to do it; otherwise better get in some practice first. Once you are practised at it, it's easy to drop in and out of meditation just for a few minutes at a time. (Don't do it while you're driving or operating machinery!)

Having decided how long a session will be, how do you time yourself? If you ask someone to let you know, they should NOT touch you to bring you out of it; that will cause shock. It's best they gently call your name, and repeat it until you finally hear them. (For most people, most of the time, it will be quite quick. Sometimes you might have gone very deep and it will take a little longer.) Or you could set a timer or alarm clock, but preferably not a loud, jangly one. And if need be you can crack your eyes open just a fraction to look at your watch, while staying in your meditative space and closing them gently again at once. A pleasant, musical timer is best. If time is not an issue, then allow yourself to come out of it whenever your body and psyche decide they're ready.

It's best not to meditate when you're tired; falling asleep is not the idea. For the same reason, after a heavy meal is not the best timing. And it's preferable to do it after exercise, not before; you don't want to get all stirred up again just after you've become relaxed. On the other hand, before a cup of coffee is better than after; you don't want to be too hyper to relax.

Eventually you can use your meditative state for specific purposes, such as contacting your guides, astral travelling, performing absent healing....

(These instructions may also be downloaded here.)