5 Simple meditation steps and tips for beginners
People struggling with chronic pain or other medical conditions can use healing meditation to feel better in body and spirit. Some report dramatic results from healing meditation, while others simply appreciate the reduction in stress that comes from sitting quietly and focusing the mind. Healing meditation often incorporates visualization techniques.
What to expect
While meditation hasn't been proven to cure specific ailments, patients report that it can be helpful when used alongside more conventional treatments. Meditation can help reduce anxiety, for one thing, which can potentially cause positive changes in your body. It's important to be open to the process and have faith that it will help, but be willing to give it time.
Guided meditation techniques
Guided imagery, in which you create mental pictures in response to another person's instructions, is commonly used for healing meditation. For example, if you have cancer, you might be asked to vividly picture your white blood cells fighting and winning against the cancer cells, and purging the bad cells from your body.
Personal healing images
You can use a healing meditation CD, or you can develop your own powerful healing images. For example, you might visualize your immune system as a train chugging steadily up a hill. Try to meditate on your chosen image often, at least once a day. You can also turn to it whenever you need a mental boost.
Preparing for healing meditation
When learning how to meditate, beginners often have trouble finding the best posture for meditation. Don't be afraid to experiment — there's no "right" way to meditate. Prepare to meditate by finding a quiet room without disruptions and take the following steps:
- Turn off your phone and any other gadgets.
- Dim the lights.
- Sit in a straight-backed chair with your head forward, knees bent at a right angle and your hands on your thighs. You can also sit with your legs crossed or, if you're flexible, pretzel your legs into a lotus position. If sitting isn't comfortable, lie on the floor (it's too easy to fall asleep on a bed).
- You can chant a mantra to yourself, such as " Om Mani Padme Hum," a Tibetan healing mantra, or use a simple word like "calm," "one" or "om."
- Close your eyes, or try staring at a focal point.
The best advice for beginners just learning about meditation is to start simple. Quieting your mind for long periods is more difficult than it looks, so just carve out 10 to 20 minutes a day at first. All you'll need is a quiet space where you won't be disturbed.
Benefits of meditation
Regular meditation can help relieve stress, improve your ability to focus and lead to a better understanding of your own thought patterns and processes. Some people use meditation to enhance creativity, reduce chronic pain, treat headaches and even improve athletic performance.
Although most people meditate with closed eyes, many beginners find it useful to have a point of focus, such as a candle. Concentrating on the flame can make it easier to clear your mind.
When learning how to meditate, beginners tend to get frustrated by the persistence of outside thoughts — all the anxieties, to-do lists and random memories that parade constantly through the brain. Instead of fighting them off, simply observe them as they enter your mind and let them pass. Repeating a mantra to yourself is another good way to maintain your focus.
Meditation techniques for beginners
Breathing meditation and relaxation meditation methods are especially good for people first learning to meditate. With breathing meditation, you simply breathe deeply from your abdomen, focusing all your attention on your breath, inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
Relaxation meditation involves consciously visualizing the release of tension from your body, beginning at the head and moving slowly down to the toes.
Meditate in action
"Walking meditation" is another useful way for beginners to learn how to meditate. The key is to concentrate fully on each deliberate step, paying attention only to the present moment. Focus on the rhythmic motion of your legs and the feel of the ground under your feet. Other active forms of meditation include tai chi and qigong (both traditional Chinese movement therapies) and yoga.
Combine meditation With lifestyle choices
A healthy diet, regular exercise and good sleep all enhance the positive effects of meditating. Spending time in nature, getting out in the sunshine, spending time with loved ones and trying to maintain a good attitude should also improve your results.
This post was written by Kate Clark for blog.gaiam.com.