Meditation Basic Techniques

Meditation may have its roots in ancient India and China, but today it’s practiced around the world by people of all backgrounds. Practitioners of meditation aim to cultivate awareness of their minds in order to detach from external distractions and gain insight and peace.

A variety of meditation techniques can help you to relax, calm your mind and find respite from the busyness of daily life. Although each form of meditation has its own nuances, many share the basic instruction to select a single point of focus, which you can return to throughout your practice.

Your Meditation Area

When you’re beginning a meditation practice, find a quiet space and set aside a regular time to meditate. Try to make it part of your daily routine, just like exercising. Experts recommend meditating for 20 minutes, twice daily.

Practice this contemplative activity in a quiet and comfortable space. Minimize distractions, choose a quiet room, silence your phone and let everyone know you’ll be unavailable.

Physical discomfort can make focused meditation difficult. Before you begin, sit upright, either cross-legged on the floor or in a straight-backed chair. Don’t slouch; good posture will keep the energy flowing throughout your body, allowing you to release any thoughts or worries.

Breathing Meditation

Breathing meditation is a great technique for beginners, and an excellent way to begin any meditation session. This technique involves focusing on your breathing and your body, while letting go of any other concerns.

To begin, close (or partially close) your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Breathe naturally, preferably through the nose. Don’t attempt to control or force your breath. Instead, simply notice the sensation of breathing. Feel each breath enter and leave your body. If other thoughts enter your mind, don’t be discouraged. Acknowledge the errant thought and then let it go.

As you become comfortable with breathing meditation, more advanced breathing techniques may help you enter a deeper meditative state.

Mantra Meditation

Another basic meditation technique involves using a mantra or phrase to help you focus. Choose a simple phrase or intention—anything from the traditional “Om” to a personal statement—and repeat it while you meditate.

Mantras often express a desire to change; if you choose this option, use the present tense rather than the future tense. For example, repeat “I am patient,” rather than “I will be more patient.”

Guided Meditation

This technique aids your meditation practice by verbally guiding you through a meditation. Accompanied by relaxing music, a peaceful voice helps you to visualize restful places—such as tranquil gardens or gentle water. You can have someone read a meditative script or purchase CDs or audio downloads.

Concentration Aids

If you’ve having difficulty focusing, your meditation practice may benefit from a concentration aid. The idea behind this basic meditation technique is that if you focus on one external factor, other distractions won’t affect you.

You can play soft music, such as meditation or classical music, and listen intently as you meditate. You could also light a candle and watch the flickering flame, or hang a crystal in your window and watch the light refract. Whatever aid you choose, concentrating on that one thing may gradually remove all other thoughts from your mind.

When you practice these basics of meditation, focusing on your own intent and bringing peace into your body and mind may allow you to fully benefit from meditation for relaxation.

Resources

Coleman, M. (2010). Simple meditation. Retrieved August 4, 2010, from http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/2711

How to Meditate. (2007). Breathing meditations. Retrieved August 3, 2010, from http://www.how-to-meditate.org/breathing-meditations.htm

Mind and Body Yoga. (n.d.) Do you want some basic meditation exercises to try? Retrieved August 4, 2010, from http://www.mind-and-body-yoga.com/basic-meditation-exercises.html

Project Meditation. (n.d.) Basic meditation techniques. Retrieved August 3, 2010, from http://www.project-meditation.org/a_mt4/basic_meditation_techniques.html

Reder, A. (2010). Take a seat. Retrieved September 15, 2010, from http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/143?page=2

Transcendental Meditation. (2010). The technique. Retrieved August 3, 2010, from http://www.tm.org/meditation-techniques