The Ultimate Guide to Meditation
By Lars King —
Meditation. What is it? We’ve all heard of it. Maybe you’ve tried it a few times, or if you’re truly dedicated to it, you do it every day. Meditation is one of the best things you can do for yourself, as it has the potential to transform your life.
The first thing we need to do is clear up some common misconceptions. It is not strictly a “Buddhist” or “Hindu” religious activity, although those religions incorporate meditation into their beliefs. In fact, every major religion incorporates some form of meditation in their teachings. If you don’t like the name “meditation,” just go with “quieting the mind” or “mindfulness.”
Scientific studies have shown that dozens of positive effects come from meditation. Over 3000 studies in the last few years have shown that meditation improves happiness levels, decreases stress, lowers blood pressure, increases attention span, relieves depression, etc. If you click here, you will be able to see dozens of peer-reviewed scientific studies that demonstrate the incredible benefits of meditation.
There are powerful inner aspects to meditation. A key realization that you will come to as a result of meditation is that you are not your thoughts. You are the awareness behind your thoughts, the “watcher” that notices them.
There are many different ways to meditate. You can should sit cross legged with your eyes open, you can sit in a chair with your eyes closed, lie down, etc. You should meditate in whatever way you want as long as you’re relaxed and not going to fall asleep during the practice.
When meditating, there are very few rules. The goal is to quiet the constantly chattering mind and simply be at peace, allowing yourself to be in the present moment. That’s it. It sounds simple, but as we all know, what’s simple is not necessarily easy.
Once you start meditating, your mind will begin to wander. You will think of what you need to do later on that day, something that happened earlier, etc. This will happen often in the beginning of your practice. A common experience is getting frustrated at yourself for thinking so much, which is unhelpful. Accept that many thoughts will cross your mind during meditation and just let them float by.
Visualization can be really helpful during meditation. I like to visualize a pool of water, and when a thought comes by, the pool of water ripples outwards until the pool is still again. Try whatever works for you. Some people imagine a clear blue sky, and when a thought appears, they see it as a cloud that quickly disintegrates.
For beginners, listening to guided meditations is very helpful. Eventually, you will be able to just be at peace, without many thoughts entering your mind. This allows you to go deeper and deeper into your meditation, giving you a profound sense of relaxation and happiness. Remember, this takes much practice, and you need to fully accept wherever you’re at in your journey.
You have to make meditation a priority in your life; otherwise it simply won’t become a habit. While meditating every once in a while is good, it won’t make much of a difference in your life unless you commit to it and do it daily.
Starting off, you don’t need to commit a lot of time to meditation. To just get the habit started, start off with five or ten minutes daily. It helps if you can incorporate this into your morning or nightly routines so that it can become a habit more easily.
The habit of meditation is not something that you will necessarily notice immediate improvements from. Patience is key here. It takes a couple months of daily practice to noticeably shift your awareness and increase the level of presence and peace you have in your daily life. I can assure you that it is completely worth the time spent, and anyone who’s been meditating for months would agree.
I’ve personally had some amazing experiences while meditating. Many times, indescribable positive emotions flow through me. Flashes of insight and unique ideas come to me. Each time I meditate, I can go for longer and longer periods of time without having any thoughts come up. I promise that you can get to this point and much farther if you commit to a daily practice.
Whenever I talk to people who have been meditating for years, I notice that they are all very calm, and fully present. They seem at peace with themselves and the world. They rarely, if ever, worry about things. These people seem to realize that worrying is mentally creating a possible negative future that doesn’t have any basis in the present moment. These people usually don’t have much of an ego, as they have realized that the ego is just another mental concept.
I started meditating sporadically a few years ago, when I was in high school. I had read about the benefits, and wanted to see for myself. I meditated whenever I could remember to do so, and when I did, thoughts would flood my mind and I was never at peace. I gave up on it for the time being, until I read that the only way for me to receive real benefits from meditation was if I did it daily. I started to do just that, and made meditation a large priority in my life. I have not looked back since. I’m now noticing many positive results in my life, and I have no doubt in my mind that meditation will continue to improve my life more and more as time goes on. In your meditation practice, remember this quotation by spiritual teacher J. Krishnamurti, “Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end.”
Since I’m so passionate about how meditation can change anyone’s life, I decided to spread meditation to as many people as possible. I wanted everyone to get a chance to experience the benefits for themselves. I created a meditation service that sends you the world’s best meditation videos for only $5 a month. Check it out at Daily Meditation!
Bio: Lars is currently on a mission to work at the coolest places in the world while spreading mindfulness through Daily Meditation and motivation through Year of Motivation. Connect with him on Twitter here!