Simple Guidelines to Staring Meditation - Your Mindset
The subject of this article is meditation.
The question arises – why should we meditate? Attaining God or Nirvana is a very distant ideal. What are the benefits Here and Now?
The first benefit is relaxation. We are unable to relax even while asleep – disturbed as we are by dreams and nightmares, tossing and turning all the while. Indeed the most relaxing part of sleep is the dreamless sleep state when we are not dreaming or thinking at all. This is the state of mind that we can achieve while meditating with a bit of practice and it is far more relaxing than our usual state of sleep.
While meditating – the posture is important. Some meditation masters prescribe the lotus or the half lotus posture but to my mind this postures are unnecessary as they lead to a lot of pain and discomfort during the early stages. If you decide to experiment with these postures be prepared to wait a few weeks before they grow comfortable.
I have been sitting in the ordinary cross-legged posture and I suggest you do the same. Use a cushion – if necessary two cushions – in order to relieve the tension on your legs. Also while meditating for any length of time you may feel discomfort or pain in you lower back. Feel free to lean against the wall. Using the wall as a backrest will ease the discomfort.
The simplest and a very powerful form of meditation is awareness of the breath. But as soon as you sit to meditate and focus on your breath you will find that the mind creates a thousand distractions every minute. You may find it impossible at the beginning to avoid getting caught up in those thoughts and feelings. Be patient – all things worth doing are difficult at the start and meditation is certainly very worthwhile.
When the thoughts arise – and this is crucial – acknowledge the thoughts, witness them, and observe them with indifference. Do not become discouraged. An attitude of indifference to repeated failures is crucial while in the early stages of learning meditation. Simply acknowledge and maintain the focus on your breath. Many a times you will find that you have been thinking for five or ten minutes about many subjects and have completely forgotten about the breath. This is usual and to be expected. Continue with your practice without any feeling of discouragement.
In the beginning a period of 20 to 30 minutes twice a day is more than enough. You can increase the time spent in meditation as you mature in your practice.
Thich Naht Hanh the Zen Buddhist master also gives the following advice: - 1) Meditate as far as possible on an empty stomach. 2) Be regular in your practice 3) If you practice mindfulness in your day-to-day life you will find that you will progress faster. Make it a point to become aware of your breathing at stray moments during the day when you are free. Also cultivate an attitude of indifference to your thoughts and feelings. To be caught up in the mind is to be living in the past and future and not in the present moment. To be fully present in the Here and Now is the method and also the goal for progressing spiritually. We can do so by dis-identifying with the mind – as Eckhart Tolle mentions in his book The Power of Now.
If you follow these suggestions you will find yourself making rapid progress over the following weeks and months. You will also attain to states of peace and joy – states when thought and the mind itself is not present – the state of No Mind praised in Zen literature.
Start meditating today and Good Luck.