I’ve compiled step-by-step tips on how to meditate for beginners. Once you have a regular meditation practice, your technique will evolve by its own accord from more concentration based meditation approach to an awareness based approach but I highly recommend starting with a concentration based approach to build the muscle of one-pointedness. A step-by-step guide below:
1. Know the theory of how to meditate
Don’t be bewildered by the reams of conflicting advice—focus on your breathing, don’t focus on anything, hold on to the present, let go of everything—on the Internet. All meditation practices have a common root: You train your mind to go from scattered to one pointed, from gross to subtle, until it’s capable of observing the subtlest reality within. That’s it. In Eastern tradition, the subtlest reality is the infinite consciousness or God, but you don’t have to believe that to meditate. Just training the mind to become one-pointed will allow you to experience the benefits of being present—calmness, improved concentration, better sleep etc. The proper way to meditate is to have this theoretical foundation as a base for your efforts.
2. Select an object of concentration
Now that you’re ready to train the mind to become one pointed, pick an object to concentrate one-pointedly on. It could be your breath—just observing it going in and out. Or an uplifting image you are pulled to. For instance, I’m a fan of the Buddha so visualizing his image works for me. It can be anything. My friend, for instance, concentrates on the image of his guitar because it symbolizes creativity and freedom for him.
3. How to do Meditation.
Sit in a comfortable place, back erect, eyes closed and visualize this object of concentration either in the space between your eyes (if you consider yourself more rational than emotional) or in your heart (if you consider yourself more emotional). If you’ve chosen your breath, just concentrate on it going in and out of your nose. That’s it. You have begun your meditation practice. No need to pay $2000 for a Transcendental Meditation course or $4.99 for a meditation app or find a new age Guru. Meditation is free and democratic.
4. Commit to an everyday routine.
This is my single most important tip. In the beginning, I would recommend sitting for twenty minutes in the morning and twenty minutes in the night each day. Many things will conspire to break this schedule. A work call in the morning, a party at night, a crying baby, a demanding partner. Somehow, make it stick. If there is a morning conference call, meditate after the call. If you’ve had a glass of wine too many and are falling off to sleep, push yourself to sit erect. After a while, you’ll know that these forty minutes makes you vibrate with clarity through the day and you’ll find a way to integrate them in your life.
5. Go for a meditation retreat once a year.
A retreat deepens your practice tremendously by allowing uninterrupted focus on meditation. While many meditation retreats have sprung up in recent years, the only one I recommend with absolute certainty is Vipassana. Albeit to call it a “retreat” is a bit of a misnomer given how intense it is, this ten-day structured silent program is guaranteed to have a life-transforming effect.
6. Strive on untiringly.
“All conditioned things are subject to decay—strive on untiringly” said the Buddha. So must one strive. In the beginning, the effects of meditation are subtle and slow to come by. Slowly though, the growing one-pointedness of your mind changes your life in perceptible ways. You are more present, coincides happen, and you feel yourself glowing with a positive vibration so much so that you’ll regret not starting earlier. Over time, your meditation practice will evolve by itself to different forms as it happened for me.
Did you try the meditation practice above? Did it work for you? I’d love to know your thoughts.
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