The average person hears “meditation” and thinks of some Tibetan monk or some new age hippie type. The truth is, more people than you know meditate regularly, especially the successful ones. If you don’t meditate already, starting the practice will make your life better, guaranteed.
Many of the most impressive people throughout history have placed high value on meditation, even in modern times. Think Steve Jobs, Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, and perhaps even most of the rest of them. The point is that meditation is not just for highly spiritual types. It will help anyone in every aspect of his life.
Perhaps the most common misconception about meditation is that it’s difficult and that you need some kind of superhuman mind control to be able to do it correctly. The truth is that it’s very easy and there’s no incorrect way to do it. Meditation is simply relaxing your body and quieting your mind. It doesn’t necessarily have to have a purpose, although you can certainly set a purpose for each meditation if you like. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.
There are a million ways to meditate, but I’ll give you a very simple meditation with some ideas you can use to make your first times more fulfilling.
The morning is a great time to meditate because your mind is not yet full of thousands of thoughts and to-do’s from the day. The evening is a great time to meditate because your mind is full of thousands of thoughts and to-do’s from a full day of wakefulness.
See? There are no “musts” where meditation is concerned. No time is better than any other (although it’s generally easier to achieve a deep meditative state in the early morning soon after rising), no method is better than any other. It’s a very individual practice, and no one does it the same. And that’s fine.
How to Meditate
Sit or lie down in a quiet place. Make sure you’re comfortable and able to relax every muscle in your body.
Take a few deep breaths. I breathe in through the nose, out the mouth, but it doesn’t matter. As you exhale each breath, feel every muscle in your body relaxing more and more.
Once you feel relaxed, simply sit or lie still without moving at all, and just breathe. Focus on nothing other than your breathing. If you get an itch or are uncomfortable, scratch the itch and shift positions. No biggie.
The idea is to clear all thoughts from your mind. At first, this is very difficult to do. Don’t get frustrated. You will have thoughts coming to you, you will find yourself thinking about something. Do not get frustrated at this. When you catch yourself thinking, just notice that you are thinking about something, notice your thoughts, and return to focusing only on your breathing, even if you have to return your focus every two seconds. (Read this for a helpful tip.)
“In, out,” or “Inhale, exhale,” “One, two,” or whatever.
That’s it. That’s meditating. It might seem stupid, boring, pointless, but just give it a shot. It quiets the mind, relaxes you, rejuvenates you. You will feel better after meditating than you did before. Since I am neither a scientist nor someone who is interested in the specific effects of meditation on the brain, I’ll just refer you here in case you’re interested.
If you choose a good environment in which to meditate, you might feel like going to sleep. That’s ok, although it would be better to try to stay awake and ride the border of sleep and wakefulness. If I’m meditating for longer than five minutes and I don’t have the time for an extended nap, I always set an alarm just in case I fall asleep.
This simple exercise will make you calmer, less stressed, happier, and all things good. You will become more aware of your thoughts while you’re active during the day. More aware of your emotions, more in control of your life. All of this is fundamental to getting the most enjoyment out of your short time here on Earth. If you want to go deeper, it gets even cooler…
You may notice if you meditate as described above for a while, which may be five minutes or thirty minutes depending on the individual and external factors, that your body is so completely relaxed that it’s difficult for you to feel what position it’s in. I often “feel” like my hand is in one position although I know it’s not because I haven’t moved since the beginning of the session. When you approach this stage, it becomes possible for your mind to remain awake, but your body to fall asleep. When you achieve this state, some really cool stuff starts to happen.
You might see what’s called hypnagogic imagery. Swirling colors, faces, animals, basically hallucinations. You might slip in and out of a dream state. You might play out scenarios in your mind and they’ll seem incredibly vivid and real, and you might not be sure if you’re asleep or awake. These images might be scary, or loving, or beautiful, or all three.
When I achieve this state, it’s very difficult (at least for me) to remain awake, so it takes a conscious effort not to fall asleep. The cool thing is that this state, as well as different, deeper states that follow, is ideal for coming up with creative ideas, advice for yourself from your higher self, from guides, Jesus, Allah, or whatever you believe in. Just ask for advice, ask for ideas, imagine, whatever. What’s happening is the filters of your brain are being stripped away and you’re becoming more in tune with your non-physical consciousness, your eternal, infinite self. And your higher self knows what’s best for your physical self. You can receive true, amazing guidance that will help you navigate this world to get the most out of it.
At least for me, sometimes I’ll have amazing revelations while in this state, but I either can’t remember them or can’t translate them into language. It’s frustrating. Nonetheless, the experiences are profound and worth the time.
Once you become used to meditating, you don’t have to be alone in a quiet room. You can be doing anything that doesn’t require a lot of conscious thought, such as eating, driving (generally), walking, whatever. And when you’re in a meditative state while doing these activities, you can boost your performance to levels higher than anything you’ve experienced.
Some of my best billiards matches have been while I was in a very calm, meditative state. It’s like you can almost achieve mind control over separate physical objects. I’m certain that Tiger Woods, in his prime, achieved a deep meditative state on the golf course, which allowed him to play rounds of golf more impressive than anyone in the history of the game. It was almost as if he willed the ball into the hole whenever he needed it.
Meditating is simply getting away from all distractions and connecting with yourself. After all, you’ll never spend more time with anyone else. May as well get to know him.
To learn three awesome meditations, click here.