Learn to Meditate
Meditation Instructions with Illustrations
Learning how to meditate is the most important part of being a human being. In fact, to uncover and embrace all that you are, meditation is key. Meditation reveals to you the Truth of your infinite, divine nature, and there are absolutely no material equivalents to these discoveries. Along the way to Self-Realization, many other priceless benefits are also bestowed by meditation practice, and I have detailed those in the following article to help motivate you even further: Top 10 Benefits of Meditation. So given how important meditation is, in this article, I would like to teach you step by step how to learn and practice this great art.
Preparation for Meditation:
One of the most important aspects of learning how to meditate and reaping the rewards of this spiritual science, is to develop a consistent, daily practice. Without such a practice, you are unlikely to master this subtle art. I have previously discussed some tips on how to accomplish this in a few articles such as, Tips and Tools for Daily Meditation Practice and How Much Time Should You Meditate for Daily, and I would like to summarize all that wisdom for you here today. So below are guidelines of what you need to set-up in order to maximize your chances of learning and succeeding in meditation.
1. Meditation Time:
To really increase the chances of meditation becoming an integral part of your life, set a particular time of day when you plan to meditate. Preferably this should be early in the morning if possible (See: How to Become an Early Riser), but if not, then some other time of day when you can do your meditation consistently is also fine. For beginner’s, the optimum configuration is 2 times per day, 20 minutes each session, once in the morning, once in the evening. This configuration has been proven time and again to be the best for those just learning to meditate.
2. Meditation Space:
Not far behind Meditation Time, is Meditation Space, if you want to learn meditation and establish a long-term, consistent practice. Having a space put aside for meditation, will make it much easier to do your daily meditation, and also help induce the right state of mind for meditation. The space should be inspiring, clean and simple, so that once you enter it, your mind reflects the outer order, thus making it easier to concentrate and penetrate beyond the superficial levels of consciousness.
3. Meditation Tools:
Don’t underestimate the importance of simple meditation tools to help you learn and master this art. A good meditation cushion, or Zafu will help you with your posture and relieve you of back pain. Proper meditation attire, will keep your blood circulating and prevent your legs from falling asleep. A stop watch will help you stay focused during meditation, as it will relieve the need to constantly check the time. Some incense, or a candle, will help help calm the mind and inspire your spiritual nature. So put these items in place, as they will not just inspire, but also help prevent some of the common pitfalls that derail an early meditation practice. The Tips & Tools article above, gives you more information on this.
You can purchase such items at your favorite yoga and meditation supplies store, or by visiting one of my partners if you like (YogaAccessories).
Once you have established your place and time. The next step is actually getting down to meditating. Although you can meditate sitting up straight on a chair or lying flat on your back, the traditional postures of meditation are sitting cross legged with certain mudras (hand positions in place). These postures are the best for meditating and if you are learning how to meditate, I strongly suggest trying one of these sitting postures first.
Below I am going to show you three postures that are excellent for meditation. One is a basic posture, the second is a typical Hindu meditation posture, and the third is a typical Buddhist meditation posture.
How to Meditate Illustrations:
Basic Meditation Posture
Hindu Meditation Posture
Hindu Meditation Mudra – Gyan Mudra
Hindu Meditation Posture
Buddhist Meditation Mudra – Cosmic Mudra
Buddhist Meditation Posture
How to Sit for Meditation:
For all the postures above, following is common.
1. Sit up nice and tall, keeping your spine straight.
2. Pull your chin back slightly, like a soldier at attention, to align the back of the neck with the spine.
3. If possible sit in Burmese Style (or Full Lotus if you can). In Burmese Style fold your left leg in, and then place your right leg in front of it. The knees are touching the floor as shown above. This forms a very strong base, and also with the legs not on top of each other, prevents common leg issues, when meditating for longer periods of time.
4. For the hand position, there are 3 variation I have given above. Here are the details for those.
- Drona Mudra: In this position (First Illustration), simply place your hands on your knees as shown.
- Gyan Mudra: This is typically used in the Hindu/Sikh traditions, where your thumb tips and index finger are meeting and the other three fingers are extended as shown. This closes a particular subtle energy circuit in the body, and helps the mind go inward for meditation.
- Cosmic Mudra: Place your right hand on your lap, and then gently place the left over it and have the thumb tips gently touching as I have demonstrated above. This is another excellent mudra for inducing a meditative state of mind. It is used in Buddhist meditation, especially Zen.
How to Meditate:
Now that you have got yourself into your meditative space and taken the right meditation posture, it is time to actually start meditating . To do this, the final step is to choose what type of meditation you are going to practice. I have given a wide range of meditations in the Free Online Guided Meditation Techniques E-book and I have also broken down meditations with regard to benefits, in the article Meditation Techniques | the Ultimate Guide, but for those who are just learning to meditate I would suggest starting with Breath Meditation first. This is a simple technique with profound benefits. It is the meditation of Lord Buddha.
I have given details of this meditation in the article Zen Meditation Technique, but I will offer them here as well.
- Once you take your posture, you can either close your eyes, or as it is in traditional Zen practice, keep them open with an unfocused gaze on the floor in front of you. Also, once you take your posture you should remain absolutely still, as if frozen in time.
- Next bring your awareness to your breathing and begin to count your breaths from 1 to 10, with each inhalation and exhalation incrementing the count. Once you get to 10, come back to 1 and start over. So you would do 5 completes breaths to get from 1 to 10.
- If your mind wonders during this time, simply see your thought, let it go and return to your count.
- If you get lost in your thinking, then again, simply see the thoughts that carried you away, let them go and return to 1, and start over.
Above are the basic instructions for breath meditation practice and it is a great way for you to learn how to meditate. The simple act of watching your breath in this way, will teach you great concentration, expand your awareness and give you mastery over your mind and body. As your meditation practice deepens, you can expand your awareness to be mindful of not just your breath, but of any sensations that arise in your body, any feeling or emotions that come up, and finally develop the art of watching and comprehending your thoughts from moment to moment. Perceiving your thinking mind and having direct insight into the false nature of duality and thoughts, is the ultimate goal of meditation. For this advanced version of Insight Meditation, see the article Silent Mind Meditation Technique.
How to Meditate Summary:
One of the most important goals of this website, is to help you master the art of meditation. As I mentioned at the very beginning, this is where the real treasures of life are found. Once you learn how to meditate, you will learn about your true infinite nature and see the perfection that is inherent in every moment of your life.
Three final resources I would like to mention to help you learn to meditate if you are just get started, is the free online meditation class offered here on Mastery of Meditation and Yoga, my new Learn How to Meditate Course and for the more advanced practitioners the Meditation Teacher’s Training and Certification Program that is now open. Below are the links for you…