No doubt you have heard by now of all the health benefits as well as spiritual benefits that can result from meditation. Students from a wide variety of spiritual traditions have been practicing meditation for centuries, mostly to create peace, joy, harmony, commune with Nature, receive messages from higher powers, clear the mind and create manifestations in their lives. Meditation is important in a magical practice in that it can also help in creating sacred space and invite in psychic abilities. In addition to all these spiritual benefits, researchers are finding that mediation can have health benefits by relieving stress which can wreak havoc on the mind and body as well as lower blood pressure and help strengthen the immune system. It gives us a way to find relief from the noise and hustle and bustle of our busy modern lives too. A regular meditation practice has been shown to increase serotonin levels in the body, which can help with depression, headaches, and insomnia associated with low serotonin levels. There are many different types of mediation and these physical benefits seem to be helped even more when the meditation is done while walking.
Awareness of the benefits of meditation has increased over the last few years as popular talk shows and magazines are full of references to the benefits of meditation. I hear from many people however that they have tried meditating and just can’t “get it”. The main complaint seems to be that they can’t quiet their minds. Thoughts of to do lists, family responsibilities, what they “need” to get done next and so on creep in and take over. That leaves many feeling as if they have failed and “can’t meditate”. We say that anyone can meditate; it just takes more practice for some than others and meditation should not be judged by the results as much as by the effort. In other words, don’t be so hard on yourself and give it time to develop. Below we offer this meditation guide to those who find themselves struggling with learning how to meditate.
One of the meditation exercises offered in our ebook, Daily Rituals for Attracting What You Want in Life, goes like this:
1. Find at least 15 minutes of time that you will not be disturbed and a place you can have quiet. This may mean turning off the phone or having your spouse take the kids out for a walk or getting up early before everyone else for some of you.
2. Find a comfortable position to sit in your quiet space. You do not have to do a lotus position or any other position that you find uncomfortable. You can sit on the ground or in a chair, whichever you will be more comfortable in.
3. Close your eyes and feel your breath moving in and out of your body. Don’t force your breath or change it, just tune in to the natural rhythm of your breathing.
4. When thoughts come into your mind (and they will – especially when first learning how to meditate), don’t fight them. Just let them come up, recognize they are there and let them pass through your mind. Don’t chastise yourself or give up with a “see, told you I can’t meditate” point of view as many do at this point. Try instead to use this metaphor:
Imagine you are on a river shore watching boats sail by. The boats are your thoughts that creep into your mind. At times you will become very fascinated with a particular boat and want to board it to look around and explore it more. This is what happens with your thoughts when they “carry you away” from clearing your mind. When you find yourself on one of these “boats”, just leave and return to the shore and concentrate on your breathing again.
5. Sit for at least 15 minutes. You can sit longer if you wish and can have a quiet environment for longer.
More Meditation Tips
Another tip for those struggling with how to meditate is to use a lit candle, incense or a fountain to distract the mind from drifting away into thoughts. Leaving your eyes open and concentrating on an object such as a candle flame gives you a visual focus that can help quiet the mind. A running water fountain creates a sound that is irregular and hard for the mind to follow which also keeps it distracted.
15 minutes is suggested as a length of time to strive for initially so as to give the mind time to quiet and open the way for inner quiet. The length of a meditation period is not as important however as how consistent you are with your practice. It is better to do a short meditation everyday than to do long meditations every once in a while. Try not to judge your meditation by criteria such as how peaceful it was or how many times your mind drifted off. It is the effort to reach a quiet place that matters more than the achievement of total quiet in the beginning. Approach those times that your mind drifts away or “jumps on a boat” with a sense of humor – ie. “There I go jumping on another boat” – laugh it off and keep practicing. The more you practice, the less distracted you will tend to be. Just don’t give up so soon.
As you continue meditating, you will see positive results in your day to day life. A new way of dealing with people and life events will emerge and you will find yourself being able to deal with situations from an inner quiet and peaceful place. Be sure to enjoy your meditation time as it is time you are investing in your inner development. The more your inner life flourishes and grows the more you will see the same reflected in your outer life. Meditation can help you achieve that and bring other magic to your life.