If you’ve read the other sections of this How To Meditate guide, you should now know how to sit and what to sit on, but what do you actually do when you are meditating? There are several techniques to meditating but I’ll describe the most common principles here. Its quite simple and easy to do. This is a form of concentration meditation (samatha) that is the a fundamental starting place for all beginner’s.
Main Principles to the Meditation Technique
2Close your eyes.
3Relax. Now relax your body and try to just loosen any tension in the body while maintaining your good posture. Often taking one or two deep breathes and exhaling can help.
4Pick the point where you most feel your breath in your body and focus on it. For me is just at the back of my nose in the centre of my skull. For other people it may be the tip of the nose or just above the top lip (these last two are most common), for other people through the throat or in the lungs or stomach. Find that point of most focus for you and place your attention there.
5Breath naturally. Just let yourself breath in a relaxed normal way. Different practices seem to dictate that you should control your breathing cycle or breath in your stomach. This isn’t necessary. Just breath naturally at a normal pace without controlling it. As you develop in your meditation your breathing will quieten itself down more and move lower down towards your stomach, so there is no need to try to develop these things. They’ll happen on their own over the years.
6As you breath, count each time you breath out, up to 10 and then repeat. For example, breath in, Breath out, then count in your head “one”. Breath in, breath out, count in your head “two” and so on. Count from 1 through to 10, and then once you’ve reached 10 start back at 1 again, repeat the count over and over. Why? The count helps you know if you are actually being mindful. If you find yourself counting 37, 38, 39 you know you haven’t been mindful for a while. Trust me it happens.
7If you lose count or go past 10? Notice what you are thinking about without attaching to it or feeling the urge to act on it, no matter how important it seems to you. It may be helpful to label what it was “thinking about work”, “thinking about my girlfriend/boyfriend”, “planning tomorrow”. Then return to your breath and start your count back at 1 again. Making note of what you are thinking about will help you notice your mental patterns that you act out and that may be affecting your life. You may find yourself thinking constantly about work, your future, your money, a disagreement you had with someone – just be mindful of this and return to your breath.
8Don’t move. You’ll find you often has irresistable urges to itch, twitch, shuffle or move. This is our nervous energy. Try to resist moving and stay perfectly still. Over time these urges will eventually quieten down as your mind quietens down. You’ll also over time become more aware of the intention to move before you actually do anything about it.
9Keep going until your time is up. We tend to make up lots of very rational reasons why we need to stop (I’ve talked about why the mind does this here), just notice it, return to your breath and keep going. If you remember something you need to do, don’t just jump up and do it, just make a mental note to remember to do it after the meditation and keep going.
Video – How to Meditate
Below is a video that demonstrates this but please take a moment to read these instructions first as it will help explain what is in the video.
Ending the Meditation
Ultimately there is no end to the meditation, you are just changing body positions and going from a moment where you were sitting formally doing meditation practice to doing something else. Mindfulness is a state of mind you should try to maintain always. Therefore, it is important when ending your meditation to end it slowly rather then jumping up and going off to do something. Take a few minutes to open your eyes and sit quietly before moving. Try to maintain the mindfulness you’ve developed, then start slowly moving and stretching. This will allow you to bring the mindfulness into your daily life. Without this practice you may develop a problem where you have great meditations but your life in general doesn’t improve. This is quite a problem. There are a lot of people who have profound meditations but no awareness or wisdom in the real life and this occurs because they don’t take the time to transition.
The other reason for taking your time to get up is because sometimes you can have numbness in the legs after sitting for so long. Give your legs time to get the blood back to them before attempting to get up or walk. As you get up and go about your life try to maintain the mindfulness you developed for as long as possible. Again this helps transition your meditation to your life.
Stretching After Meditation
While very few people ever talk about this after meditation I think its beneficial to do some gentle stretches or yoga for 5-10 minutes after the practice. Having sat still for so long it helps stretch out the muscles, but it also gives you a good opportunity to stretch regularly which is good for your body. It also allows you the opportunity to maintain mindfulness while moving your body which can be beneficial as mentioned above.
Other Meditation Tips and Techniques
You can find other finer points about meditation on the Meditation Tips page.