"Here is, in truth, the whole secret of Yoga, the science of the soul."
You may feel motivated to take on the practice of meditation by spiritual quotes that speak about its many benefits. Take, for example, this description of meditation by Patanjali, the author of "The Yoga Sutras": "Here is, in truth, the whole secret of Yoga, the science of the soul. The active turnings, the strident vibrations, of selfishness, lust and hate are to be stilled by meditation, by letting heart and mind dwell in spiritual life, by lifting up the heart to the strong, silent life above, which rests in the stillness of eternal love, and needs no harsh vibration to convince it of true being."
This might sound wonderful, but meditation is a practice that can be intimidating for those who are unfamiliar with it. A beginner might imagine a monk who has dedicated his life to spirituality in a deep trance atop a mountain. Fortunately, you do not need to have a monk's level of commitment in order to reap the benefits of meditation in your everyday life. In fact, learning how to meditate is a process that is both easy and enjoyable. Let's take a look at how you can ease into practicing meditation.
- Start Small
As is the case with any new skill, if you try to bite off more than you can chew when you first begin meditating, you are likely to become discouraged. You should set aside a very small amount of time for your first few meditation sessions. Five minutes should suffice. As you become more comfortable in your ability to sit and meditate, you can gradually increase the time that you spend on it.
- Find a Distraction-Free Environment
It is very important that you find a distraction-free environment to meditate in. As a beginner, it will be very easy for even minor interruptions to break your concentration. A very isolated location in nature such as a forest or a large park is ideal. If you do not have access to such a place, meditating at home is perfectly fine. If you live with people, make sure that they know to leave you alone during this time. Put away any devices that create noise such as electronics or ticking clocks. You should also be sure to get in as comfortable of a position as possible before you meditate. Although you may have seen people getting into complicated positions for meditation, they are not necessary. Comfort is key to your concentration when you are a beginner.
- Do not Fight Your Thoughts
There is a psychological concept known as the ironic process theory. This theory states that if you try to suppress certain thoughts, they will become more prevalent. Since the object of meditation is to find yourself in the moment without being fixated on any stray thoughts, many people who are new to this practice will find themselves thinking about not thinking. They may even scold themselves for having thoughts. These actions are counter-productive to meditating. Do not think about what not to think. Accept any stray thoughts that you may experience and gracefully allow them to run their course as you recalibrate your focus on your body's physical sensations. Focus in on the sensations of your fingertips as they touch nothing. Focus in on how it feels to breathe. As you become present with the sensations in your body, your stray thoughts will escape on their own without you having to struggle with them.
If you are sure to gradually ease yourself into incorporating meditation into your life, it will yield great benefits. You will experience a heightened ability to focus and feel mentally present at all times. Remember that meditation should always be a rewarding process of self-improvement and understanding.