Although it may sound self evident, whenever you are starting a new thing in your life it’s best to begin at the beginning. This applies to meditation techniques as much as anything else. As we get older, we forget that almost everything we now take for granted such as walking, riding a bike, driving a car, or whatever else took time to learn. We didn’t instantly go from novice to professional. Yet we often expect to do this as we grow older!
That said, we need to get reasonably fast results otherwise we move on to the next idea. So here are some simple meditation techniques for beginners that will put you on the right track with your meditation practices.
1. Set aside a regular time for your meditation
OK, this isn’t really a technique but it applies nonetheless.
If you decide that you’re only going to meditate when you’ve got time, the chances are that – unless you’re completely dedicated – things will lapse and your daily session will turn into an every other day one and then once a week, once a month and finally “oops, I can’t remember the last time I meditated”.
Setting aside a time is fairly easy after a while. It takes us around two weeks to form a habit so make sure that you put a note in your cell phone or something else that will nag you until you pre-empt the alarm notice. You’ll then know that your habit is truly habitual.
This is difficult to get wrong! Which makes it an excellent way to begin meditating.
You already know the basics. Most adults take between 12 and 20 breaths per minute. Which is quite a big variation if you stop to think about it.
Generally – at a beginners level – a breathing meditation will concentrate on the actual experience of breathing.
You’ll listen to a set of instructions and your focus will be set to the process of breathing from taking air in through your mouth or nostrils, feeling the air flow down your wind pipe, notice your lungs filling with air, maybe thinking about how the oxygen gets transferred to your bloodstream and then feeling the air retreat through your wind pipe again and escape through your mouth or nose.
Wow! That sounds complicated when it’s described like that. Yet you’re carrying out that process every few seconds.
The act of focussing on your breathing usually involves taking longer breaths than you’d maybe take normally. This will slow down your breathing rate and in turn that helps to induce a state of calm and relaxation.
There are plenty of good quality guided meditations on the market that will literally talk you through the whole process.
Personally I wouldn’t classify this as a beginners meditation technique but I’ve included it because a lot of people do start with this method.
The idea is to have a focus point that you concentrate on, allowing your mind to get quieter as this happens.
The focus point could be a spot on a wall or ceiling. Or it could be a candle flame. Or anything else that doesn’t move around too much that you can fix your attention on. A television program doesn’t count for this! But a purpose made video could do – you’d watch calming pictures and listen to relaxing “new age” music.
So keep an open mind here. If you find the traditional method of meditating is too hard at first, be open to ideas that will change the method without wrecking it.
Traditional meditating can also involve repeating a mantra over and over again. One of the usual ones – you’ll recognize this from Hollywood films – is the word “Om”. Which sounds a bit like a hum. Some meditation masters will pass their own mantra on to their students. The actual mantra is less important than the effect of allowing your mind to focus on the mantra and allow other thoughts and worries to fade into the background.
Purists count this method as cheating!
It’s probably the quickest way to drop your mind into a deep meditative state that would otherwise take years of practice to achieve.
The system normally requires the use of headphones. The binaural beats are then played into your ears and your brain is placed in what can be best described as a state of mild confusion. The two beats it’s hearing are almost identical but not quite.
So your mind tries to match up the two ever so slightly different tones. In the process, it gets automatically taken down to whichever level the creator of the track was aiming for.
There are programs out there which will allow you to create your own binaural beats but unless you’re a complete geek with qualifications in biology as well as computers, it’s better and more reliable to buy a system off the shelf.
There are a number of different binaural beats systems available. Some require years of listening, others will get good results in a matter of weeks or months.
They’ll also overlay the beats with other sound. Binaural beats on their own are a bit like listening to white noise – not exactly pleasant. So the different meditation programs available will mask the beats with natural sounds such as rainfall or with specially designed meditation music that gives your conscious mind something to listen to whilst your subconscious mind beavers away, trying to make sense, and takes you down to a totally relaxed meditative state.