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Meditation 101

How To Meditate By Focusing On Your Breathing Or A Word

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  • Choose the focus of your meditation.
    • For example, the word "one", or " Om" or your breath as it enters and leaves your nose.
  • Sit still and comfortably.
    • Preferably sit in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
    • You do not have to sit in a Lotus position. Any comfortable position will do.
    • If you sit in a chair, make sure your feet are flat on the ground and your lower back is supported.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Relax your muscles.
    • A simple way to relax your muscles is to focus your attention on your muscles.
    • Contract one muscle at a time. Hold the contraction momentarily. Then release it.
    • Do the entire body, including the small muscles such as those on your face.
    • Start either at your head or feet and go the entire length of your body methodically.
  • Breathe easily and naturally.
  • Focus your attention on the breathing by focusing on your breath as it goes in and out.
    • Do not try to change anything.
    • Silently say the chosen word or sound while breathing out.
  • Do not be surprised if your thoughts jump all over the place. It's natural. This is known as a "monkey mind".
    • Notice the thoughts.
    • Keep in mind that thoughts are not reality. They are merely thoughts. Thoughts come and go.
    • Gently return your mind each time to the object of your focus.
  • Continue doing this exercise for 10-20 minutes.
    • You can open your eyes to check the time if necessary.
    • After awhile, you will likely be good at judging the time without opening your eyes.
    • After finishing, sit quietly for a minute or so with eyes closed.
  • Do not worry about how successfully you meditate.
    • Meditation is not a competition.
    • The key is to sit and do it.
  • Practice meditation once or twice a day. Especially suitable times to meditate are early morning and evening. It is not advisable to practice right after a meal when your stomach is full.

If you want to practice meditation in the classic Asian sitting posture, consider the following:

  • Sit on a comfortable pillow so your butt is raised a few inches above the hard surface you're sitting on. (This can be on a chair with feet flat on the ground, on the floor etc.) 
  • Sit up straight.
  • Straighten your spine.
  • Keep your ears and your shoulders on one line.
  • Relax your shoulders.
  • Push your head up toward the ceiling from the back of the head.
  • Pull your chin in (and keep it in.
  • Press your diaphragm down toward your lower abdomen.
  • Breath  naturally. Start with regular breaths and slowly breath more deeply.
  • Place your hands in your lap.
    • Put your left hand on top of your right hand.
    • Touch the middle joints of your middle fingers together.
    • Tough your thumbs lightely together as if you are holding a piece of paper between them. (The result is an oval shape). 
    • Hold your hands gainst your body. Your thumbs should be approximately at the height of your navel.
  • Hold your arms slightly away from your body. The Zen master, Shunryu Suzuki, describes it "as if you held an egg under each arm without breaking it."

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