Channeling Facilitator, Spirituality and Meditation Teacher, Author, Speaker and Podcaster.

How to Meditate

Meditation is a response in the nervous system and there are many ways to trigger it. Once activated, certain chemicals flow, brain waves change from beta waves to alpha waves, metabolism drops, senses become more acute, the body relaxes deeply, and the subconscious mind comes to the fore, making us more receptive and responsive to suggestion. This response is the opposite of the fight-flight response and regular practice produces a number of laboratory-proven physiological and psychological benefits.

People sometimes talk loosely about meditation. They might refer to walking, dancing, or moving meditation. Certainly, these activities can alter one's state of awareness, but it is highly unlikely that meditation occurs. People sometimes cite interesting themes and ideas to contemplate in a quiet time. These might inspire, affirm or otherwise help us to feel good, but they are not meditation.

Meditation can be achieved in many ways, and unfortunately, there are those who make it unnecessarily complicated. Meditating is easy and natural. The hard part is to find the time to do it on a regular basis. It is much like physical fitness in that regular meditation becomes easier and the benefits begin to flow after about three or four weeks of regular practice.

So, how does one meditate? There are lots of ways but here are a few simple steps that I have found to be effective in my classes over the years:

  • Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for the next 20 -30 minutes. Unplug the phones and ask others to be quiet and see that you are not interrupted.
  • Sit in a comfortable chair, with your spine straight, feet on the floor and no arms or legs crossed. If you can handle the lotus position, go for it. If you prefer to lie down, OK but you risk falling asleep and I usually caution against it.
  • Focus you attention on your breath and keep it there for as long as you can. To help, don't say or whisper, but think the word "in" with each inhalation and the word "out" with each exhalation. You might observe the air as it moves in and out of your nostrils.
  • Chances are your mind will begin to drift away from your breath and on to the chatter and worry of everyday life. Don't fret. Don't beat yourself up. Just gently come back to your breath. With practice, you will get better at this, but likely never perfect - and you don't have to be, you just need to get it mostly right.
  • After about ten minutes or so, if you have maintained your focus on your breathing for most of that time, you will be meditating. It's that simple. Carry on, either continuing to focus on your breath or place your attention on some other singular theme, idea, affirmation, visualization, problem, etc. My course gets more into this.

You will probably have questions. Given the space limitations of this column, here are three:

1. How do you know you are meditating? This is a bit tricky but you will notice that your breath has become shallower. That's because your metabolism has dropped and you require less oxygen. Also, you may see colours or other visuals, or you might feel light, pleasant sensations in the head. These are indicative of being in an alpha state.

2. How often and for how long should I do this? Most authorities recommend a minimum of once a day for approximately 20 minutes per session. Once you get into it, you will love the feeling of meditation and will want to stay longer. This is fine, enjoy.

3. If it's this easy, why do I need a course? You don't. Just as you can learn to play golf or swim the front crawl from an article or manual, you can learn to meditate from one. On the other hand, if you have questions, want to explore alternatives, want feedback on variations, need a correction here or there, or enjoy the input from others, a class with an instructor can get you on track faster, and feeling more secure in your knowledge and technique.

Finally, the benefits, as I outlined in a previous article are many. Perhaps the greatest are the reduction of stress, a calmer, more upbeat and positive outlook on life, and an expanded consciousness that helps us tune into a bigger picture of the grand design.