How to Get Started With Meditation
Four Basic Ways to Practice Meditation
- Follow your breath This is the most universal of all mindfulness techniques. First, exhale strongly a few times to clear the base of the lungs of carbon dioxide. It is helpful to review the technique for following the deep breathing method of imagining a lotus blossom residing in your lower abdomen; as the breath fills the belly, the petals of the blossom expand; as you exhale, the petals close back up.
- Observe an icon or object Allow your mind to rest lightly on an object. If you come from the Christian tradition, this might be an image of Christ, the Virgin Mary or the Holy Spirit.
If you are inspired by Eastern spiritual traditions, you might reflect upon an image or icon of the Buddha. You can also use a flower, crystal, or other object that has meaning for you. Lightly allow your attention to sit there, quietly and peacefully.
- Recite a mantra A mantra literally means "that which protects the mind." So reciting a mantra protects you with spiritual power. It is also said that when you chant a mantra, you are charging your breath and energy with the energy of the mantra. Again, choose something with meaning for you within your spiritual tradition: recite the Rosary, for example. Tibetan Buddhists use a mantra for peace, healing, transformation and healing. "Recite the mantra quietly, with deep attention, and let your breath, the mantra and your awareness become slowly one," writes Rinpoche.
- Do a Guided Meditation. Guided meditation is akin to guided imagery, a powerful technique that focuses and directs the imagination toward a conscious goal. (Think of a diver imagining a "perfect dive" before he leaves the platform.) Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk who is a scholar, poet, peace activist and author. He suggests trying a very simple — yet profound — guided meditation that you can learn by yourself.
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