Now that it has been established how important meditation is in life, how do you get started. Before we get to that, I thought it would be a good idea to get a solid definition of meditation. After looking up the definition of meditation, I am not too sure now, that it was such a good idea. It seems meditation is hard to define. Who would have thunk it? Wikipedia states scholars have found meditation difficult to define, as practices vary both between traditions, and within them. Let’s look at five sources and see what they said. The Merriam-Webster dictionary states it is a discourse intended to express its author’s reflections or to guide others in contemplation. The Medical Dictionary has a definition. A practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance personal and spiritual growth. Dictionary.com states meditation is continued or extended thought; reflection, contemplation, devout religious contemplation, or spiritual introspection. It comes from the Latin word thinking over. Cambridge English dictionary says it is the act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as way of becoming calm and relaxed. Finally good old Webster defines meditation as a practice in which an individual trains the mind, or induces a mode of consciousness either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself.
What is my take on all these definitions? It means that you can do pretty much what you want when you meditate. I do not see anything religious in meditation. It should be a personal endeavor and religion should have nothing to with it. If you want to put a more religious aspect to your meditative practice, then that is fine, but don’t feel that it is a necessity. Meditation has been associated with various philosophies and historical individuals. Again, something that is not necessary to incorporate, to meditate. If you want to follow someone’s meditative practices or guidance, that is good, if this is what gets you started or keeps you going in meditation. There should not be any goals in meditation except to relax and look inward. The benefits listed for meditation will just happen and in some respects can be overly optimistic, just to try and get you to meditate. Most of the definitions make meditation feel like a thinking process which in my view it is not. Yes if you are going to look inward and see your true self some thought is going to have to be involved. One of the purposes of meditation is to calm the brain and stop the thinking on the outside world. Now that we have , let’s say a working definition of meditation, how do we get started.
Although fear is the biggest reason people do not meditate, the other big excuses are time and I just can’t sit still for 20 minutes and think of nothing. Most likely these people are right. But I bet they can not run a marathon, do 100 push ups, or play golf in the 70’s if they have never golfed. Meditation is like any endeavor, you must start small and work your way up to big. When I started to meditate, I began meditating for one minute. That was it. I could do that, and I could do it every day. You can start even shorter than that if you want. Thirty seconds, 5 seconds even, it does not matter. What matters is you do it, and then slowly but surely increase the time every 4 to 7 days. How fast you go, is up to you. When I started, I increased my time by one minute every 5 days, and then when I got out to 8 minutes, I increase by increments to 2 minutes, until I reached 20 minutes. This took about 10 weeks to do. Even though there are many how to books and apps on meditation, I am going to give a few basics to get started. First, getting into that comfortable position. Your meditation position can be anything you want. You do not have to get into to that semi-lotus cross legged position to meditate. You can sit in a chair, or couch, and even lying down is a perfectly good position to meditate. The only danger in lying down to meditate is falling asleep. If you are starting from scratch, and follow the above advice of only meditating for one minute, that is highly unlikely. The best way to start is to count your breaths and I believe in always counting the full cycle breath. One count for every inhale and exhale. Next up we will discuss breathing in a relaxed way, and getting to know your inner self, get started please.