The Ultimate Guide to Meditation

In this world filled with stress, pressure, and competition, people are turning to meditation for alleviation. It is a methodological training of the mind that is similar to training your muscles. Just like physical working tone the body, meditation helps the brain stay in shape (although not literally). 

But what most people taking up meditation are confused with is how to get started. They find it difficult to stay still for a few minutes and give up within a few days or a week of trying. But as you'll see, meditation is not all about sitting still. In this ultimate guide to meditation, you'll learn about everything you need to know to get started.

What is Meditation Exactly?

To get started with meditation, you must understand what meditation exactly refers to. Many people carry the misconception that it's sitting idle doing nothing which activates your "Chakras." But that's the wrong definition.
Meditation is the process of attaining mindfulness, which is the state of being aware conscious. You're aware of your thoughts, of your present moment, your feelings, and body sensations. In other words, you cut off the distractions and focus on your own feeling and body.

So you’re not necessarily sitting idle, but focusing on your train of thoughts and gaining control over them. This way, you can eliminate negative thoughts and make way for positive thoughts.

Meditation is often confused with yoga. But meditation is actually a sub-component of yoga. Besides the mind, yoga also focuses on posture, breathing, and higher spirituality.

Different Types of Meditation

There isn't a single form of meditation but multiple. While the objective remains the same, which is to attain a state of mindfulness, there are slight variations.
There are as many as 25 different types of meditation. Experienced meditators incorporate their own areas of expertise with meditation. This includes physical movement, spirituality, visualization, chanting, etc.

But as a beginner, you should only know about two types of meditation.

Mindfulness Meditation

In this type of meditation, you focus completely on your thoughts and how your minds work. When you take up mindfulness meditation, you combine awareness with concentration. So not only do you sit down and concentrate but also focus on being aware of your thoughts. This is the foundation for other types of meditation and teachings come straight from Buddha.

Focused Meditation

Focused meditation is the complete opposite of multi-tasking. You focus all of your efforts on one and only one thing. So if you're sitting idle, you do nothing but sit idle. You focus on controlling your thoughts, not on understanding how they originate and where they're leading you to. Focused meditation doesn't only mean you have to sit still. You can stroll in a park and focus all of your attention on your breathing and steps. The more focused you become, the better. This is often more challenging than mindfulness meditation.

How to Get Started with Meditation?

If you've tried and failed at meditation, then chances are you were doing it the incorrect way. Perhaps you were unable to focus for some reason, or you aim for an unrealistic goal. Whatever it might be, you can always restart the correct way.

Why do you want to meditate?

One reason why people fail with meditation is they start off with the wrong motivation. Others do not even have any motivation and just jump in because their friend or co-worker told them to. But this is a recipe for disaster, and you're going to quit faster than you spend time preparing for it.

Therefore, you need to be clear about what you’re meditating. Do you want to be more focused? Then you’ll measure the success by your focus level at work? Are you taking up meditation to enhance positive thinking? Then you’re going to measure it differently. So it’s helpful to write down your goals and expectations for meditation.

Choose a Place and Time

The next thing that you need to get right is the location and time. Ideally, the place should be quiet, but a little bit of background noise is not an issue. Timings depend all on you, although mornings or evenings are better to get started. 

Choosing the place and time is not enough. You need to stick to it. If you select 7 AM in the morning on your terrace, then you should follow it for at least a couple of weeks. Let your body fully acquaint itself with the new routine.
Make sure you aren't busy during the hours you choose. You should have free time on all seven days. Otherwise, you'll face distraction, which will eventually force you to quit.

Fix Your Posture

You can meditate either on the floor, on your bed, or chair. What matters more is the posture. It's not necessary to mimic the posture of a Himalayan Yogi. You can sit just like you sit on a chair but in an upright position. Lift your face a little bit with your chin tucked in. Relax your neck and other parts of the body. Your hands should be in your lap and loose.

If you’re on the floors, then cross your legs and maintain the above posture. Once you’ve found the ideal position that is free from stress, your mind will find it easier to concentrate.

Focus on Your Breath

Meditation, for the most part, is about concentrating on your thoughts. But it becomes a bit more advanced, and you'll then run into the train of thoughts. For beginners, it is advised to focus on their breath instead.

Get into the correct posture, close your eyes, and start taking long breaths. Hold your breath for 2-3 seconds and release slowly. You should focus on maintaining the tempo. This would force your mind to focus and not wander away somewhere else, which is the main reason for distraction.

Set a Duration

Setting up the duration is equally important. This is because if you don't, then you'd have to make the decision every single day, which is another reason for distraction. This duration can be as little as 5 minutes per day, but you set the duration anyhow. So that when you sit down, you know that you'll have to meditate for 5 minutes.

Later you'll find it easier to increase the duration and not get distracted by it. But don't increase the duration too much too soon. Also, when increasing, ensure you have enough free time at your disposal.

Create a Post Meditation Session

A post-meditation session allows you to keep the concentration and positivity going throughout the day. You should at least have a clear idea of what you're going to do next. Remember, the point of meditation is to get everything in order and disordered. Chaos is one of the reasons why we find it difficult to focus on.

To Sum up

As you can see, meditation is all about balancing distractions. The lesser distractions you have, the more chances you succeeding in meditation.
For thousands of years, meditation has been a way of life for many people. It has led them to enlightenment and greatness. While it may not guarantee the same for you, meditation will surely help you in leading a happier life. It’s important to get the above basics right from the start and challenge yourself to get better.