Do you find it difficult to meditate? You are not alone. Meditation is an advanced spiritual practice. However, the instructions aren’t difficult to learn. They are quite simple, really. It’s a difficult discipline to master because you’re trying to quiet your mind.
Like a river that is constantly flowing, the mind cannot be easily restrained. It is always chattering, restless and unable to focus on one thing for long.
While it is difficult to quiet the mind, it’s not impossible. Here are six quick and simple meditation tips that will enable you to effectively calm your emotions, still your thoughts and remain as a peaceful inner witness.
Meditation Tip #1: Sit with your back straight
This first tip sounds pretty obvious, but many people don’t sit with their backs straight. They may prefer to sit slightly slouched in bed or on a relaxing sofa or chair.
While they do feel relaxed, they may not be able to effectively quiet the thoughts. This is because a bent vertebral column interferes with the functioning of the nervous system. This can result in a loss of focus and scattered thinking. Think about how alert you feel while sitting on your comfy sofa when compared to a straight-backed chair.
Use a chair that is not too soft or too hard—firm yet comfortable. Place your feet flat on the ground or use an armless chair and cross your legs.
If you’re sitting on the floor, you can make your own seat using a folded blanket or shawl, or a low cushion.
Hold your back straight without straining any muscles. You may use a cushion or pillow to support your back. May sure you don’t lean into it but use it to hold your back erect. Keep your body as relaxed as possible, especially your neck, shoulders and arms. Place your hands comfortably in your lap.
Meditation tip #2: Hold the body still
While you can’t actually catch and restrain the thoughts, you can quiet them through an alternative method—by sitting absolutely still.
The body and the mind are intricately connected. You may have noticed that when you consciously hold your body still, you are better able to quiet and focus the mind.
Most of us are not conscious of the many small movements that we do. Stay alert to these movements and do your best not to give in to the urge to touch or scratch any part of your body. Resolve to not move even an inch this way or that.
Sitting still is an important discipline. You can’t meditate without it. Read, The very first discipline for meditation.
Meditation tip #3: Take slow, deep breaths
Sitting upright and still will help considerably in calming down the thoughts. To relax the mind and make it very quiet, take slow, deep breaths.
Take a deep breath in through your nose, filling your lungs making sure you take the air all the way to the very top near your collar bones. Hold the air in for a second or two. Then slowly breathe out. Hold the breath out for a second or two, before breathing in deeply again.
Do this slow, deep breathing for a few minutes. Your mind will naturally become quieter.
To understand the connection between the breath and the mind, read, Why deep breathing calms the mind.
Meditation tip #4: Don’t initiate new thoughts
Once you still the body and regulate your breathing, you will find that the mind’s chattering has quietened down to a great extent.
At this point, don’t congratulate yourself, “Wow! this is so peaceful,” “I’m actually meditating!” etc. You’ll only be disturbing your quiet mind with unnecessary thoughts.
Sometimes, you may not say anything, but the mind that was so quiet suddenly starts gurgling with thoughts.
As soon as you become aware of a thought, don’t get annoyed that your peace has been disturbed. Don’t judge or criticize yourself. Relax. Simply shift your attention back to your breathing.
Meditation tip #5: Use a timer in the initial stages of your practice
You may find that you are able to quiet the mind and remain silent for only a few fleeting seconds. Your mind wanders away without you even realising it. It’s only after several minutes have passed that you notice, and you snap out of your reverie.
In the initial months of your practice, a timer can be a useful tool in easing this problem. The mind is more alert and obedient when it knows it only has to remain quiet for a short period of time.
Start with one minute and gradually add a minute to your timer as you are able to hold the inner silence for a longer time. Don’t be surprised that you may stay with one or two minutes for many months. It isn’t easy to quiet the mind and you have to be patient and determined.
Meditation tip #6: Keep a notepad handy
You may find that when your mind is quiet, you start getting ideas and solutions to your everyday concerns. Or an important errand or task may come to mind.
If this happens, relax. Don’t worry that you will forget them later. Simply jot down your thoughts in brief on a notepad. Once you’ve written them down, put them out of your mind and resume your meditation practice.
You can set aside another time to gain creative solutions for your projects, concerns and goals. But for now, be serious about quietening your mind and meditating on being the inner witness or observer. Read more: Meditation on being the witness of your thoughts.
Rewards of meditation
The inner witness is your true Self. This real essence is blissful spirit, untouched by the changing body, emotions, thoughts, worries, desires, fears and everyday concerns. You are the source of all peace and happiness.
The more you practice identifying with your true nature, the easier it will be for you to view and handle your everyday concerns in a detached manner. You will become happier and more peaceful in life.
This is certainly achievable, and you may find the six tips in this article a good place to start or enhance your meditation practice.
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