In our fast-paced society, where there is so much pressure to perform and succeed, spending time each day meditating or relaxing can be extremely important. The mind is amazingly powerful, but when it gets overwhelmed, it can do very little. Meditation helps us to calm down and focus the mind. These qualities of relaxation and focus can help you in sports, in studying, and in dealing with your parents.
In meditation practice, we can access the great powers inside each of us. We need less to build or create these powers than discover them by looking inside our own mind, bodies, and hearts. No special experience or knowledge is needed to meditate, only the curiosity and willingness to look within.
Here are a few pointers to follow if you'd like to give meditation a try.
Listen to a guided meditation
BEFORE YOU START
1) Find a comfortable place.
Designate an area or corner of your room where you'll practice, maybe near a window where there's nice light or a corner of the room that's not cluttered. Once you've found your place, make it comfortable with flowers, pictures of friends and loved ones, or place meaningful objects there. And, yes, a Justin Timberlake or Britney Spears autographed pic counts.
2) Find a time that works for you.
Are you an evening or morning person? Most people find that early morning or late at night before bed is the best time for meditation, but you can do it any time of day. Find a time that works for you and make this your meditation time.
3) Turn off the lights.
Save some energy and turn off those lights! Feel free to light a candle and enjoy its nice, soft lighting. If you use a candle, make sure it's in a safe place where it won't fall over. Or use a small lamp to provide a little light. If you're sitting in front of your computer, the subtle glow of the monitor will work just as well.
4) Keep distractions to a minimum.
Turn off the ringer on your phone, turn down the answering machine, and turn off your CD player. Put a "do not disturb" sign on your door and ask your family to not bother you during this time. Do whatever you can to limit distractions.
5) Make a commitment.
You don't have to commit to meditate every day for the rest of your life, but 5-10 minutes a day for a week can be very helpful. After the first week, re-evaluate and make the meditations longer or shorter. You can also simply meditate whenever you feel you need it. If you decide to make a commitment, make sure that the goal is reasonable. Start small and slowly build.
Next...learning how to sit.
SIT ON IT!
Now that you have a good time and place, find something to sit on. Meditation is often done while sitting in a chair or on the ground with a cushion or zafu (a round Japanese-style cushion). If you decide to sit on the floor, make sure that your butt lifts off the ground a little, so use cushions or fold a pillow in half to help. This makes it easier to cross your legs on the floor. It also helps to keep your back straight, which is very important in meditation.
Sit "Indian-style" with legs crossed or with one leg folded in front of the other. Either way, you'll want your butt to be lifted off the ground a bit. Don't try to fold your legs around in a complicated position unless you've done a lot of yoga or gymnastics.
You can also use a chair. Sit in the chair with your feet flat on the ground and your back upright. Find a firm chair that will help you sit in an upright manner. You can also try sitting on the edge of your bed, though it's a little more difficult since it's not as firm as a chair.
Whichever position you choose, rest your hands lightly in your lap or on your knees. Your head can tilt down very slightly. Try gently closing your eyes and see how that feels. If it feels strange, go ahead and keep your eyes open.
Remember, there are many forms of meditation, and there is no "one-size fits all" position or style. You'll discover your style through experimentation and listening to your intuition. Most important, have an attitude of curiosity and adventure. Don't worry too much about doing everything "right."