Meditation 101

Being a devout Taoist, meditation is part and parcel to my daily routine. It has become almost a necessity. The emotional, mental, and physical benefits I derive, whether as a placebo effect or a result of the meditation, are no less discernable. They are vital in my being centered in a way that is happy and healthy for me.

It is the one ‘trick’ I know that may differentiate me from another person, who has yet to discover it on their own. I often share the benefits of meditation in conversation when appropriate. On the rare occasion, you will find someone who shares your beliefs and either has practiced meditation or continues to do so. Most often, I hear people show great interest in the benefits, but stumble on the ‘how’ of meditation. They have either tried it, in some form, and feel like they failed, or they are just stuck at the not knowing how to begin hurdle.

There is good reason for this. If you ‘Google’ meditation, in any form, you are overwhelmed with information on the benefits, hows, whys, whens, and wheres of meditation. Each instruction valid in its intent, but fraught with details specific to a certain philosophy or technique. Even the more generalized views and instruction get you mired in too many details to successfully get started. The novice becomes entrenched in ‘doing it right’, which does not allow for the natural flow into what works for the individual.

So, let’s make this as simple as possible. My hope being, that with practice, you will find your own types and techniques of consistent meditation and reap the benefits.

There is only one true ‘requirement’ for meditation. And that is time. You must make the time. But you can meditate anywhere, anytime, and for any amount of time. There are no required body positions, environments, or equipment needed. Your body should be comfortable, and you should have nothing requiring your gaze (like not while driving or being a lifeguard). And silence, which is near impossible, is an old myth. Being in a quiet place may help when starting out, but it will never become a requirement. That’s it!

Now, again, anywhere and at any time, close your eyes and do one thing. Be mindful. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness is available to us in every moment, like taking time to pause and breathe when the phone rings instead of rushing to answer it. Mindfulness is exploring. It’s not a fixed destination. Your head doesn’t become vacuumed free of thought, utterly undistracted. It’s a special place where each and every moment is recognized. When we meditate, we venture into the workings of our minds: our sensations (air blowing on our skin or the sun on our face), our emotions (love this, hate that, crave this, loathe them) and thoughts (wouldn’t it be weird to see an elephant playing a violin). This is your ‘judgement-free’ zone. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back to the moment at hand.

Lastly, breathe. For the novice, the easiest way to reach the state of being mindful is to focus on your breathing. Just relaxed natural breath fully aware of the air filling and leaving your lungs. As you relax, your breathing may deepen, but let it happen naturally. You will still hear and feel every input from all your senses. As you focus on your breathing, fully hear and feel your surroundings. Allow your mind to wander. When your connection is lost by fixation on a sensation, feeling, or thought. Return to your breathing as your focus. Again, relax and allow your mind to wonder. This is where the term practice is used for meditation. Anytime you feel unfocused, return to your breathing. If you do these three simple suggestions more than a few times, I would hope the benefits will be obvious enough for the practitioner to invest the time into learning and using the plethora of other suggestions available on the finer points of meditation.

Now go meditate your brains out! Namaste

13 Responses to “Meditation 101”
  1. meenawalia says:

    U r God sent.Few hours back I was thinking I have to find out about meditation as I am fed up of the constant chattering of mY mind.there have been times I have almost pleaded myself to stop thinking but the thoughts keep popping up.
    I have tried doing it but sitting in the cross legged position with hands on my knees I get so uncomfortable with the posture that I lose my concentration.And how do I stop the thoughts from.coming even while meditating.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      I hope you will try these easy steps to get started. Skip the notion that body position is critical to success. Just find a position in which your body is comfortable. Relax and focus on your breathing. Let the mind go where it will. When you feel distracted, return to your breathing. If you need something to get the mind started on meditation, you can start by simply thinking of all the things you are thankful for. That often will get your mind moving in the right direction. Even five minutes of thoughtful and mindful meditation can make a difference. The errant thoughts will still creep up in the beginning, until practice allows you greater focus. Let them come and then let them go, as your return to your breathing. I wish you the best always, and I am here if I can help! Thanks for your comment!

  2. Good post Brad, this must be your secret for writing lovely poems and words. Meditation is a truly blissful experience, the more I do the more I want to get into that state where mind is completely silent. Once we get to know how, we can go into that state at any place any time by concentrating on the breath as you mentioned.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      I have suspected from your own very connected, happy, and loving writings, that you practiced meditation regularly. Thank you for sharing your experience and the benefits of the practice. It helps others to see how meditation can improve their lives when they can see it in other people’s lives. May you and your family always be blessed! Thank you for your comments and support!

  3. The struggle is trying to quiet the mind and just be ‘in the moment’. When I’m successful with that, meditation brings me much calm. It’s getting to that place that is often difficult. And for those of us predisposed to spend our “time” on others and not ourselves, the struggle is even greater. But I hope to put your tips into practice. Thank you!

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Getting to ‘that place’ becomes easier with practice. With work, it will come more quickly and naturally. Our rampant lives that require us to be actively doing something productive all the time does not help either. It is important to see the act of doing nothing (being still and quiet) as doing something too. Try as often as your time permits. There will be times where it is still difficult to get in the correct head space. If so, stop and try again another time. Eventually, you will have more success, which will spur even more success. Don’t get frustrated, as with all things it is a process.

  4. Jim Borden says:

    helpful post, Brad. I’ve always wanted to start a daily routine of meditating, but it never seemed to stick. Maybe after reading this, I’ll give it another shot.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      I hope you find the practice that works for you. It doesn’t take long and the benefits are worthwhile. Thanks for reading and commenting Jim!

      • Jim Borden says:

        I even have a guest speaker every semester speak to my students about meditation, and he even leads us through a mediation exercise. Sadly, that’s usually the only time I mediate all year!

      • Brad Osborne says:

        Guided meditation is a great way to start. You appear to recognize the benefits, as you consistently offer it as instruction to your students, and you have a good foundation of learning the practice to draw from. The only thing left, Jim, is to make the time. The length of time I meditate is always dictated by the other things in my life. Sometimes it’s two hours and includes breathing exercises, visualization, and mantric practice. Other times it is 5 minutes of mindful thought and reflection. If I can get you to the consistent five minute practice, the rest will develop and grow naturally. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

      • Jim Borden says:

        thank you for your encouragement, Brad. I’ll give it a shot this weekend, both days, and see how it goes!

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