Ways to Meditate — Simple Meditation Techniques
Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re starting, it may be best to try simple ways to meditate first, so in this article, we will cover basic meditation techniques to help you on your journey. If you’re looking for a more advanced way to meditate, please read my article here: Learn to Meditate the Hard Way.
To begin, find a comfortable, quiet place where you can meditate without distraction. The way you sit or how you position your hands isn’t too meaningful at first. Over time you will find the position that feels best. There are many positions: you can meditate while sitting, standing, walking or lying down.
A long-term goal of meditation is always to be meditating. Throughout the day, we cycle through many situations, and each one is an opportunity to meditate.
For beginners, it may be best to practice while sitting in a chair at first. An issue with overly comfortable positions, such as sitting or lying down, is that you may fall into a semi-sleep state rather than actual meditation—and you may fall asleep entirely.
Sitting with your legs crossed or with your legs tucked under you are more advanced positions. In the beginning, it is very uncomfortable, especially for longer sessions. Despite this, it is much more effective in keeping your mind alert. Remember, you’re not trying to fall asleep; it is a practice to increase your awareness and focus.
After you’ve found a comfortable position, it’s now time to give your mind a job; this task focuses on breathing; gently feel it enter your lungs and leave your body. Focus on how it feels as it comes in through your nostrils or mouth, feel it enter your lungs, whether shallow or deep breathing. Feel the exhale.
From time to time, thoughts will come on, such as daydreams, worries, or feelings of discomfort. Each time that happens, bring your focus back to your breath. The amount of time you meditate for isn’t necessary; it’s more important that it becomes a regular practice each day.
At times, you may wish to push yourself further into lengthier sessions, but try to ease yourself into it. In my experience, longer meditations do bring more ‘rewards,’ but that shouldn’t be the goal—to have some incredible experience. Go into your meditations with no goals or expectations.
Learning to breathe comfortably may be a challenge in the beginning. Feel free to experiment with different forms. One method that I have found to be comfortable is to breathe in through your nose and exhale as if it’s a big sigh—this seems to be an effective way to empty the lungs quickly. Forcing the lungs can cause discomfort, and therefore a distraction.
Mantras are words or sounds that are repeated in your mind to aid in meditation. An example of mantra meditation is, “I am calm and relaxed.” Using a mantra has a similar effect as focusing on your breath. It gives your mind a job to do and helps to quiet the monkey mind. The monkey mind produces all of those thoughts of worries, boredom, discomfort, plans and past regrets. Meditation is a tool to be present and focused on the moment, and mantras may help you to achieve this.
Some mantras may have a similar effect as self-hypnosis. By repeating, “I am calm and relaxed,” in a short while, you may feel the impact of those words as your body relaxes. Another mantra to use is “My body is falling asleep,” and then as your body becomes deeply relaxed, switch over to “My body is asleep, and my mind is awake.” If you can master this kind of technique, it can eventually lead to out-of-body experiences if that’s something you wish to explore.
Surprisingly we can go through life without bringing much thought to our bodies until they are causing us trouble or pain. Body-scan meditation is used to bring us inward and give recognition to the body.
When meditating, bring your thoughts to your toes on the left leg. See if you can sense any increased blood flow or energy as you bring your attention to them, and then expand that awareness to your whole left foot as if it is one piece. Continue doing this until you work your way through your entire body while periodically joining them together as one. Eventually, the goal is to feel your whole body as one.
Body-scan meditation is useful for when you feel discomfort while meditating. It is often used at the beginning to reduce any existing pain and to avoid or minimize any trouble that might arise. Bring your awareness to any tension, soften the area with your mind, and let go of it.
A more advanced way to meditate is to do so without any distractions; this means no soothing sounds, music, or guided meditation. A traditional method is to choose a sitting position and focus on your breath. You can read more about it here: Learn to Meditate the Hard Way.
Over time you may begin to have strange experiences while meditating. You might feel unusual body sensations, start to see lights or even real-life visions of people, things or places. Quite often, regular meditators begin to have more vivid dreams or even lucid dreams—when one becomes fully conscious inside the dream. You can read about my experience here: My First Night of Lucid Dreams.
Another exciting experience to happen to me was when, after meditating for a few weeks, one day, I woke up in ‘the void.’ The void experience seems to be much less common than lucid dreams or out-of-body experiences and is more closely related to something regular meditators may experience. I’ve written about my experience here: Entering the Void for the First Time.
If you have any meditation techniques, thoughts or questions, you’d like to share, please leave a comment below!