How to Meditate

Artwork by teZa Lord

Stillness, the inner drama

This is dedicated to all those who are suffering from life’s challenges, whether of a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual nature. I just received an email from a friend who has been in great physical pain for months and has tried all medications. He was told to try meditation but hasn’t a clue where to begin. So … in your honor, Mike, I present these simple, step-by-step suggestions. Remember, there are many many ways to meditate. This is simply my “quickie” gift, and I’m somewhat limited by the fact I’m not face-to-face with you, and cannot speak the instructions aloud. However, if you follow these instructions, and repeat them frequently (daily, at least) I guarantee you, you will enjoy the benefits of what meditation is: developing an inward life; a release from worldly-exterior problems, a lowering of stress, a heightening of hope and positive energy concoursing through your body-mind-spirit … the different but equal parts of YOU (even if one part of your human nature hasn’t been developed, you have not yet experienced your real human potential, the real you, the Self-healer).

1. First, secure a safe, quiet physical environment, to the best of your means. Turn off all communication and entertainment electronics (phone, computers, TV, music) and create a clean, comfortable, and pleasant place to sit. Sitting upright in a chair with your legs on the floor (not crossed!) is best for beginners. If you’re more flexible you may try the floor, but for beginners this will only create an uncomfortable physical situation. So forget that for now, but DO start taking hatha yoga classes if you wish to become more physically (and spiritually) flexible. If you are lucky to have a “helpmate” have the other person read these instructions aloud as you go into meditation. With practice, you won’t need to hear the instructions read. You will intuitively know what to do after a few simply tries.

Please remember what meditation is, as we proceed. Meditation is the turning-inward of your mind. This means that we will be practicing having no thoughts … something our ever-thinking mind is not accustomed to. So … to achieve this we must give our mind something to focus on, so it won’t think! As we proceed, please let go of any preconceptions about what you think meditation should/ought/will be. It is different for every person. But if you do what I recommend, you will be meditating, even if you don’t feel like anything’s happening.

2. In your comfortable seated position, with your hands resting on top of your thighs, and your spine as straight yet relaxed as possible (you might want to put a little cushion in the small of your back to support the spine’s natural curve), close your eyes and your mouth, and very intentionally, focus your mind on your nose breathing. “Watch yourself” take a looooong breath in (for a count of 4 or 5) and then watch yourself as you slowly release this breath for the same count (of 4 or 5). Do this quietly, with no talking, no movement of any kind, for several minutes. As you watch your breath really FEEL the breath come into you like the life force it is. Imagine the breath is like LIGHT, that slowly fills you. As you let go of your breath, FEEL the breath leaving you, and imagine your breath is spreading LIGHT throughout the world. Focus your mind on this simple practice of breathing-in (for a count) and breathing-out (for the same count). If you “forget” to count and find yourself simply breathing slowly, rhythmically, steadily … you are already in meditation. Don’t think you have to “hold onto” the counting. That is simply a “tool” to help you get into the “meditation groove.”

This following-the-breath method is the simplest way of entering meditation. If you’d like to try another technique that I highly recommend, you may also want to try this after a few rounds of breath-focusing. And that is …

3. The Mantra-Repetition method of meditation: When your mind has stopped “chattering” with endless strings of thoughts (that is, has quieted down after several rounds, or several minutes of following-the-breath …or longer if you’re a “freight-train” kind of person) … slowly and with sacred intention silently repeat the phrase: Om Namah Shivaya (pronounced: Ommm Na-mahhhh‘ She-vay’-ahhh).

This Sanskrit mantra is the most ancient and most sacred of all and carries a lot of grace in its vibrations, its sounds. You may “think” of its meaning as well as repeat its words, if you wish. Or … after knowing the meaning, you may simply focus on the sound of the words) and just remember the meaning is sacred. Like you are. The meaning of Om Namah Shivaya is: OM (called “the seed mantra” it is a sacred sound used since antiquity to represent all creation); NAMAH means “to honor,” and comes from the same verb as Namaste, the yogic greeting that means “I honor the Light of divinity within you”; and finally, SHIVAYA: Shiva is a Vedic scriptural name for God-Within that translates as God-as-consciousness). So the mantra Om Namah Shivaya can be translated as, “I honor God within myself, as myself: I honor my Higher Self.”

On each in-breath silently repeat Om Namah Shivaya. On each out-breath silently repeat Om Namah Shivaya. Continue in this way, steadily focused on both breathing and repeating the mantra Om Namah Shivaya. If the mantra “falls away” and you find yourself drifting into … well, who knows? … simply and gently bring your awareness back to the mantra when you realize you have drifted from its sound. There’s nothing wrong with “drifting away” from repeating the mantra. But if your mind starts to “think” you need to start once again to repeat the mantra Om Namah Shivaya to stay in that meditative state. Otherwise, you’ll just start “thinking.” If your mind stays still and is comfortable not not repeating the mantra, and doesn’t start thinking, this is okay too. Just rest in that stillness for as long as feels comfortable.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t expect more than a few minutes of this thoughtless, this deep tranquility, this One-ness, at a time. For beginners start with five minutes, then try ten minutes. Gradually you can build up to 15 or 20 minutes, but slowly, and with love and respect for your physical, spiritual, and emotional “newness” to this psychic exercise. Developing your “psychic muscles” … which meditation is, takes time and patience. Be kind to yourSelf, please! In time, you will be able to slip into meditation anytime, any where, even for just a few moments. This is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Practice meditation to relieve any distress in your life. And pretty soon you’ll be meditating just for the sheer joy of it. Embracing Inner Bliss is the result of maintaining a meditation practice. You’ll be amazed at how quickly that bliss comes into your mind, your heart, your health, and all aspects of your life.

4. Remember to slowly come back to “normal” consciousness after your meditation practice. Give yourself a few deep breaths to revitalize the body. Wiggle your toes, bend your fingers. Stretch. Yawn. Slowly stand up and …. Smile forever!

Om Namah Shivaya

Your pal who loves you, each and every one of you, Lordflea