Meditation is an ancient spiritual practice, central to many spiritual traditions such as Yoga, Buddhism and Christian mysticism. This article explains the basic steps to meditation.

Posture

Any posture that is both comfortable and keeps the spine upright is suitable for meditation. Sitting postures are ideal. The important thing is that the posture is stable and can be held comfortably during the whole meditation session. Suitable meditation postures are listed in one of the links at the end of this article. Once you’ve settled in your sitting posture, begin by consciously relaxing the whole body.

Breathing

The next step is to simply observe the breathing. Watch your breath as it moves through your nostrils or be aware of the rhythmic movements of your belly. Whenever the mind starts to wander and begins its habit of daydreaming, planning, recalling or imagining, simply bring it back to the breath as soon as you become aware of the distraction. Distractions will happen a lot and you may find you have recapitulated your whole day at work or relived a recent movie before you realize it.

Meditation Object

Most forms of meditation require a meditation object. This can either be your breath, a mantra, a mental or physical image or an idea. In meditation, one concentrates on the chosen meditation object without straining the mind. Whenever your attention wanders somewhere else, gently bring it back to the meditation object. Although these moments of distraction will be very numerous, you will develop a deeper awareness of what goes on in your mind and the senses will turn inward. Find out more about meditation objects in one of the links below.

Basic Rules for Meditation

Set aside a regular time for meditation, for example 20 minutes every evening. Choose a quiet, clean and orderly place. If you wish, you can meditate in front of a little altar, a picture or a plain wall. Don’t expect immediate results – the positive effects of meditation may take some time to make themselves felt and they may be too subtle to notice immediately. Having distracting thoughts is completely normal. After all, meditation is about becoming more aware of what’s going on in your mind and not necessarily about having no thoughts at all.

 

Mindful Action

Eventually, you will be aiming at extending your meditation to the whole day. This doesn’t require you to sit cross-legged for hours on end – it’s enough to continue with about 20 minutes of sitting meditation or whatever amount of time you choose to dedicate to sitting meditation. However, you should try to consciously extend the meditative state to other activities. This is done by being mindful of whatever you’re doing rather than daydreaming or allowing the endless chatter of the mind to accompany you all day long.

Meditation Brings Happiness

Meditation can become an invaluable companion in life. Rather than changing anything on the outside, meditation allows you to shift the way you perceive the world and yourself. If practiced regularly and properly, meditation can be a powerful instrument of personal transformation. It should ideally be practiced under the supervision of an experienced meditation teacher.