If you’re just beginning your meditation practice, you may find it difficult to quiet the barrage of thoughts that enter your mind. Don’t worry. This is natural, and with practice and time, and by following these 10 helpful tips on how to meditate by Mary Jaksch of Goodlife ZEN, you soon find some peace of mind and clarity.
Whether you sit on a chair or cross-legged on the floor, make sure that your spine is upright with head up. If you are slumped your mind will drift. Mind and body are intertwined. If your body is well-balanced, your mind will also be in balance. To straighten up, imagine that your head is touching the sky.
Try and keep your eyes open. Open eyes allow you to be more present. Just lower your eyes and let your gaze be sort. If you close your eyes you will be more likely to drift away on thoughts and stories. However, it’s important to do what is comfortable for you. Some people find closing their eyes much more effective. It’s good to experiment and see what feels best for you.
In ordinary consciousness we are hardly ever present. For example, sometimes we drive the car on autopilot while being preoccupied with thoughts. Suddenly we arrive at our destination and don’t remember anything about the drive!
So, meditation is a wonderful way of waking up to our life. Otherwise we miss most of our experiences because we are somewhere else in our mind! Let’s take a look at what focus is. In ordinary life, we tend to equate focus with concentration. That’s like using the mind like a concentrated beam of light. But in meditation, that kind of mind isn’t helpful. It’s too sharp and edgy. To focus in meditation means to pay soft attention to whatever you place in the centre of awareness. I suggest using the breath as a focus. It’s like a natural door that connects ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Zen Master Toni Packer says, “Attention comes from nowhere. It has no cause. It belongs to no one.”
3. The breath
Paying attention to the breath is a great way to anchor yourself in the present moment. Notice your breath streaming in and out. There’s no need to regulate the breath – just let it be natural.
Follow this link to read the rest of Mary Jaksch’s 10 Helpful Tips on how to meditate. They include counting your breath to maintain focus, noticing your thoughts and releasing them, dealing with your emotions, meditating in silence, and creating a special place in which to enjoy your meditation. This is a great list of meditation tips for beginners. For those of you who are already meditating, what other tips have worked for you to help quiet your mind and get into a meditative state? Please share your experiences with us using the comment box below!