How to Meditate

Yes, you can take courses and spend lots of
money learning. To tell the truth, though,
meditation isn't all that complicated. The basic
techniques are straightforward. As is so often
true in life, the problem isn't knowing how to do
something. The problem is actually doing it.

For me, meditation begins with breathing. If we
can breathe, we can meditate.

Most times, we are unaware of our breath, just
as we are unaware of most of what goes on
around us in the rush of our daily lives. We only
become aware of what is happening to us in the
present moment when something reaches up
into our conscious mind and grabs our attention:
pain, for instance, or danger.

Because we are unaware of what actually takes
place around us, we find ourselves swept along
on a torrent of thought, emotion, worry, and
stress. We have no perspective on our daily
troubles, no sense of existing apart from them.
Do you ever feel like you've been snagged on a
spinning wheel, with no apparent way off?

Meditation helps us get off the wheel, if only for
a moment. When we meditate, we relax physically
and mentally. Our stress levels decrease. We
recover a bit of perspective. For me, those
things are valuable enough to make me take
meditation seriously.

So, how do you meditate? One of the simplest
techniques is simply to count your breaths. Sit
down comfortably, with your back and neck
relatively straight. Let yourself become aware of
your entire body. Close your eyes gently. Hear all
the sounds around you.

Then bring your attention to your breathing. Do
nothing more or less than count your breaths.
When you catch your mind wandering, just bring
it back to the task at hand.

I start my morning ritual by counting thirty
breaths. In the past I have done more, but
sometimes the larger
number becomes a stress
in itself. I've found that doing fewer than thirty
doesn't really give me time to settle in. Thirty is a
nice starting point.

Your mind will wander as you meditate. That's
neither good nor bad, since that's just what your
mind does. The difference between meditation
and ordinary awareness is that in meditation you
bring your awareness back to the breath when
your mind wanders. In ordinary awareness, you
let your mind go where it will.

You don't have to sit in exotic yoga postures to
meditate. It would be nice if we all could, but
most of us aren't that limber. Just sit comfortably.

Meditation is not a religious act, in and of itself.
From a physiological standpoint, you are doing
nothing more or less than triggering the
"relaxation response" in your brain, something
that is well-documented in scientific literature.
This relaxation response has positive benefits,
regardless of your religious orientation.

There isn't a "right way" and a "wrong way" to do
it. Much of the value in meditation for me comes
from the things I become aware of as I meditate. I
may find my mind spinning as I begin my morning
meditation. There may be no sense of peace or
perspective as I meditate. Yet when I finish, I
almost always know more about what's really on
my mind than I did before I started. There is a
value in that.

So, give it a try. Take a breath. Hear the world
around you. Count your breaths. See where it

All you have to lose is a little stress.

©2007, John G Cunyus, All Rights Reserved

Words, Images, and Layout
©2007, John G. Cunyus
All Rights Reserved

John Cunyus is freelance writer
working in North Texas.  His work
may be viewed online at
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