Many people may have heard of meditation, but accessing its benefits can be intimidating. While meditation is an effective technique for becoming calm and releasing you from anxiety and stress, it still has a reputation as something difficult to master.
Through meditation, your ego melts away, and you become receptive to your inner calm, clarity, awareness, and wisdom. When you escape from day-to-day living and open yourself up, you will receive inspiration, epiphanies, and, eventually, spiritual awakening. But you must quiet your thinking brain and be sensitive to your subtle yet profound spiritual interior.
So how does one get started? Here are seven steps to help you understand the benefits of meditation and make it a part of your life.
The 7 Steps of Meditation
When meditating, sit comfortably to minimize the diversion caused by aches and pains. Use a cushion if that helps. Sit with good posture and an erect spine. Be relaxed but alert.
The goal of meditation is to create a direct connection with your spiritual self. In the beginning, if keeping your eyes open and looking at something beautiful — like the ocean, nature, or the stars — enhances your closeness to your spiritual nature, go ahead and do it.
Eventually, you will pass beyond that presence and close your eyes to avoid being distracted by the earthly things in sight. You will forget yourself and feel the Oneness of all. You will transcend this worldly life and enter the spirit of God, pure awareness, the Infinite.
Focus on the Present
You want to be alert to the moment, not what happened in the past and not what you want to happen in the future. Once you become calm, while breathing, try focusing on parts of your body.
Begin by focusing your attention on the bottom of your feet. Feel the floor beneath them and how the floor touches them. Feel how your knees are bent. Feel how your bottom is touching the seat of the chair. Feel how your back is against the back of the chair. Focus your awareness on your hands for a while. Feel the stillness of your hands resting upon your still body.
Allow yourself to become immersed in the peace of your body.
Breathe Deeply and Slowly
Now focus on your breath. Close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply, slowly, and steadily. While you are breathing, be sure to keep your back straight and your head and neck aligned with your spinal column. Relax all the muscles in your hands, arms, shoulders, back, and legs. Breathe deeply and slowly so you can feel your chest expanding and contracting.
Such deep breathing makes it more likely that you stay focused on breathing rather than other ideas. Become alert to the moment. Feel your breath entering and leaving. Feel the cool air entering and the warm air leaving. Focus on the feeling of your breath leaving and entering. Think of the air leaving your body as the exiting of your earthly troubles and the fresh air entering your body as a calmness entering you.
Breathe four to six seconds in, and four to six seconds out. Breathe in a long breath, being conscious that you are inhaling a deep breath. Do it until your abdomen expands. Then breathe out all the air from your lungs, remaining conscious that you are exhaling. Do it while feeling your abdomen contract.
Continue to focus on each breath in and each breath out. Focusing only on your breathing is important. Long breaths help you keep your concentration on your breath. Also, deep breathing relaxes you and infuses more oxygen into every cell of your body. It enhances both your awareness and your body.
Some people count as they breathe in, and again as they breathe out. That can make it easier to keep your concentration on your breaths. After counting to the same number over and over as you breathe in and breathe out, it will become automatic and natural. If it makes it easier for you to focus on your breath, you can instead substitute a spiritually enhancing phrase or chant, saying it as you breathe in and repeating it as you breathe out.
Eventually, a calm will come over you. When the water is calm, you can see deeper.
Be still. Free your mind from earthly hindrances like anxiety, worry, fear, and anger. Feel your stress and tension leave you as you exhale. Don’t think. Concentrate on your breath. There is no set time frame. Breathe until a calm comes over you, and you feel lifted and floating.
In a state of stillness, your mind will try to intercede. It will worry about what has to be done later. It will be angry over what someone did to you that morning. Just recognize it for what it is: your mind trying to intercede. The ego is a pesky thing that way. Just go back to focusing on the feel of your breath going in and out, in and out. You will return to the stillness.
As earthly distractions creep in, be aware of them, but don’t let them take hold of you. Just accept that it is there and that it can be there without interfering with your focus on your breathing. Merely objectively observe it. Do not think about it. You can observe it objectively without becoming a part of it, getting caught up in it, believing it, or without feeding or fighting it.
Look beyond that thought and become again aware of just the moment. That thought does not control you. It is there, but it can be observed objectively and without emotion. It is not the real you. If you don’t get involved with it, the distraction will float away just as quickly as it came.
Don’t be disappointed in yourself that your mind repeatedly wanders. You are making progress.
Before you began meditating, when your mind wandered, you didn’t even notice it. You were just sucked into its reality. You weren’t even conscious of it happening. You are making progress. You are expanding your awareness and consciousness.
Let Yourself Be Calm and Alert
If we pay attention, we become aware of the sound of the truck passing or the air-conditioner humming. But in meditation, we also become alert to the lightness we feel within us after the physical world has been allowed to fade away.
Don’t worry if that opening does not come to you initially. If you practice regularly, your inner senses will open up, and you will expand the sphere of your awareness. You will come to realize that all of life is within every moment. That you are connected with all that there is, and everything that can be experienced, can be experienced here and now.
You will realize that in every moment, you are permeated with all that there is and that there are no boundaries.
In the beginning, be content to seek calm attentiveness, joy, and internal peace. Don’t strive for enlightenment. It is not something to seek. It already is, and has always been, within you. Through regular meditation, your worldly veneer, your veil, will slowly dissolve, and your spiritual awareness that has always been at your core will gradually become visible to you.
Let it happen. Open yourself to it.
After having experienced the formless world, you will be ready to experience the final step of awareness. It is known as Pure Being. It is beyond being in the formless world. It is being simultaneously both in the formless world and in the binary world of forms and distinctions.
That is Oneness.
After a while, you may experience that you feel calm and lighter, almost floating, less tied to the earth. Let it happen. Go with it.
Don’t actively pursue it; just let yourself be open to the moment. Remember that it is called “effortless effort.” Don’t strive. Just let it happen. Eventually, it will. You will begin to see things in a new way.
These steps should enable you to start using meditation successfully. Of course, I don’t intend these tips to be exhaustive — they’re just the beginning. There are many books, videos, websites, and teachers to help you further pursue the subject. Once you have found a teacher, a guru, or a guide to which you can relate, use them as you would a map to travel your path to your spiritual destiny.
All of this, including how to find spiritual enlightenment, will be explained fully and deeply in my upcoming book, Awaken Your Soul.