Monday, November 7, 2011

Different Ways to Meditate

Various traditions have offered unique ways to meditate. However, all of them have a common focus of directing one’s attention to a particular object, image or thought. Once an object is selected and attention is directed, your mind stays focused on it. The more you are able to keep the mind on the selected item and less you are distracted, better is your meditation. Through this directedness, you acquire the ability to control your mind. This meditative focusing helps minimize distractions and stress associated with the present-day living.

Practice: Before you begin to meditate, you should set up a daily and a weekly routine. Choose a particular time and a specific place to do meditation. A good mental attitude is also essential! You should tell yourself that you are going to spend meditation time exclusively for yourself without the distractions from the cell phone, telephone, radio, TV or visitors. A detached attitude is indispensable! You should empty your mind of all expectations whether positive or negative. To drive maximum benefit, it is suggested that you should practice meditation regularly and uninterruptedly for a long time

Some simple ways to meditate are described below. At the beginning, try each one for a couple of minutes. Select the one that is most suitable for your temperament. Once you have picked the right one, meditate with that on a regular basis.

Caution: These meditation exercises are suggestions only. When done correctly they might be useful in easing stress, helping in falling sleep, experiencing health and enjoying wellbeing.



1. Meditation on the Breath

Sit in an easy posture by crossing your legs. Keep your back, shoulders, neck and head straight up. Rest your hands on the knees. Close your eyes. Start breathing in and out. Pay full attention to your breathing in and out. Observe the flow. As you breathe in and out, you will find that it feels good. Stay in this position for two minutes, while observing the flow of breathing. After two minutes, resume your normal breathing.

2. Meditation on the Diaphragm

Sit in the easy posture. Put your left hand flat on your stomach below the rib cage. Breathe in slowly by first filling in the top, then the middle and finally the diaphragm or stomach. Feel the rise of your left hand as the stomach fills up. Once all the air is taken in, slowly start breathing out. Let your hand feel the slow collapsing of the stomach. Once again, start breathing in gently by filling in the three parts of the chest. When the stomach has reached its full capacity, start breathing out by letting your hand feel the collapsing of the stomach. Repeat this procedure for two minutes and then resume your normal breathing.

Meditation with a Mantra
While sitting in the easy posture, close your eyes. Become aware of breathing in the out. As you breathe in, think about the sound ‘so.’ As you breathe out, think about the sound ‘hum.’ If other ideas come through your mind, recognize them and then set them aside. Go back to breathing in ‘so’ and breathing out ‘hum.’ Keep your mind on ‘so’ ‘hum.’ Continue your meditation with ‘so’ ‘hum’ for two minutes. After you have completed this process, go back to your normal breathing.

4. Meditation on Sound and Silence

Sit in the easy posture. Keep your back, neck and head straight up. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out. Become aware of the sounds around you. Pay attention to the sounds followed by silence, followed by sounds, followed by silence and so on. Keep your mind on the rhythm of sound, silence, sound, silence and so on. After doing this for two minutes, go back to normal breathing.

When you are trying out these meditation exercises the first time, practice them for two minutes each. Choose the one that relaxes you the most and practice it for a week for a total of ten minutes at each sitting. You can also do these meditation exercises while you lie down on your back.

5. Systematic Relaxation

Lie down on your back. Relax your body on a mat or carpet or bed. Let your arms rest next to your body. Close your eyes by breathing in and out.

Become aware of your fingers. Squeeze them tightly by making fists. As you squeeze them, breathe out. After counting five, relax your fingers by breathing in. Do this exercise twice!

Become aware of your eyes. Squeeze them tightly while breathing out. After counting five, relax your eyes by breathing in. Do this exercise twice!

Become aware of your lips. Give a big grin while breathing out. After counting five, relax your lips by breathing in. Do this exercise twice!

Become aware of your chin and press it against your chest, while breathing out. After counting five, relax your chin by breathing in. Do this exercise twice!

Become aware of your shoulder blades. While you press them against the ground, breathe out. After counting five, relax your shoulders by breathing in. Do this exercise twice!

Become aware of your lower back. While you press it against the ground, breathe out. After counting five, relax your lower back by breathing in. Do this exercise twice!

Become aware of your hips. While you press them against the ground, breathe out. After counting five, relax your hips by breathing in. Do this exercise twice!

Become aware of your legs. While you press them against the ground, breathe out. After counting five, relax your legs by breathing in. Do this exercise twice!

Become aware of your feet. Point them away from your body while you breathe out. After counting five, relax your feet by breathing in. Do this exercise twice!

Now observe your entire body. It is relaxed. Breathe in and out and enjoy the relaxed feeling.

Note: You can combine this exercise with the next posture of total relaxation

6. Posture of Total Relaxation (Dead Man’s Posture)

Lie down on your back. Relax your body on a mat or carpet or bed. Let your arms rest next to your body. Close your eyes by breathing in and out.

Now become aware of your toes. Tell yourself that there is no tension. They are fully relaxed. Now become aware of your feet. Tell yourself that there is no tension. They are fully relaxed. Now become aware of your ankles. Tell yourself that there is no tension. They are fully relaxed. Now become aware of your lower legs. Tell yourself that there is no tension. They are fully relaxed.

Now become aware of your knees. Tell yourself that there is no tension. They are fully relaxed. Now become aware of your thighs. Tell yourself that there is no tension. They are fully relaxed. Now become aware of your hips. Tell yourself that there is no tension. They are fully relaxed.

Now become aware of your lower back. Tell yourself that there is no tension. It is fully relaxed. Now become aware of your upper back. Tell yourself that there is no tension. It is fully relaxed. Now become aware of your abdomen. Tell yourself that there is no tension. It is fully relaxed. Now become aware of your chest. Tell yourself that there is no tension. It is fully relaxed.

Now become aware of your shoulders, arms, hands and fingers. Tell yourself that there is no tension. They are fully relaxed.

Now become aware of your neck and chin. Tell yourself that there is no tension. They are fully relaxed.

Now become aware of your lips and cheeks. Tell yourself that there is no tension. They are fully relaxed.

Now become aware of your eyes and forehead. Tell yourself that there is no tension. They are fully relaxed.

Now become aware of your entire body. Tell yourself that there is no tension. It is fully relaxed.

Now tell yourself that you are looking at your body from a distance. Your body is light. Your body is weightless. Your body is floating. Your body has no tension. It is fully relaxed.

Note: Enjoy this relaxation for two minutes and combine it with the next meditation through visualization.

7. Meditation through Visualization

Lie down on your back. Relax your body on a mat or carpet or bed. Let your arms rest next to your body. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out.

Imagine yourself lying on the top of a hill on soft green grass.

You are looking down into the valley lined by trees with green leaves.

The sun is shining. The sky is blue.

The rays of the sun are coming towards you.

The rays of the sun are entering your heart.

Your heart is re-energized. Your blood is re-energized.

This re-energized blood is rushing to all parts of your body, restoring to you sound health.

Tell yourself that you are at peace with yourself and at peace with the universe.

Enjoy this relaxed and peaceful state for five minutes or more!


Dr. Ashok Kumar Malhotra

Distinguished Teaching Professor

SUNY at Oneonta, New York

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