I’m not an expert on meditation, but I find it very
useful, so I’ve written this site as a way of passing on techniques
that work well for me.
Meditation is most useful when practiced every day, even
for short periods of time. I get more from five minutes every day than
I do from occasional hour-long sessions, although I enjoy the hour-long
sessions a lot more.
For me, meditation is (at base) conscious, planned, structured attention to one’s mental processes.
It is phenomenally useful if done on a regular basis, because it promotes self-knowledge, and mental and emotional calm.
While many forms of meditation are based on religious
beliefs, meditation need not be religious, just as many types of music
involve religion, but music itself is not necessarily religious.
It need not take a huge amount of time in any one
session, but does need regular and frequent (daily is good) practice if
one wants to experience significant benefits.
There’s lots of evidence (some of which is easily
found if you search
Google with terms like “study shows” and “meditation”) that meditation
has measurable effects on your well-being, whether or not it feels like
it’s doing anything at the time. As far as I can tell, this goes for
most styles of meditation, so it’s really just a matter of finding one
- doesn’t bore you to tears
- you can fit into your normal life
(no habit lasts if it doesn’t work with your lifestyle)
contradict any of your beliefs (quite a few really useful meditations
were originally created by religious types)
- (ideally) targets your
It often helps a lot to work out
what kind of meditation is
going to work for you to talk to someone about what is and isn’t happening
in your mind when you meditate.
You might choose to try more than one
meditation per session. If so, I suggest you
give each five minutes and ground and centre in between.
Give each new meditation style one
at least a week’s practice before deciding
it’s not for you. Preferably two or three. They often start being
useful only after you’ve been practising them for a while.
With other people
If you live with other people, it
can be really useful to
get their buy-in. If you think they will be supportive, tell them
you’re planning to meditate for whatever part of the day
you’ve chosen: morning people in the morning; ‘owls’
If they are interested in it,
meditating with other people
is really, really useful — even if you’re all doing it silently in your
heads. Humans are social animals, and doing things with others helps us
Guided group visualisation can be
good if you get
bored easily when meditating.
If you’re depressed
or suffering from
anxiety (or any mental or emotional problem, for that matter),
some control over your thoughts can seem extremely desirable. It is
desirable, but one of the things stopping you from doing so is often
that you’re trying to control them before giving them some ‘space and
air.’ You can’t control anything you don’t accept. This is why the
acceptance meditation is so useful.
We tend to get confused about
our place in time. We
know that we exist right now, not in the past or the future, but we
don’t really accept the fact. So we fret over the past and the future
without really doing anything to accept the past and change the future.
Basically, we try too hard. Centring really helps with this; it makes
us focus on the
now, not by trying not to think of the past and future, but by being
aware that they aren’t now.
There’s this idea that
if you’re meditating ‘properly,’ you won’t notice time. This is half true, but half
false. It depends very much on how often you meditate and what you are
meditating for. If you are meditating to achieve a ‘blank’ state,
fine, but if all you are after is better health and peace of mind, even
meditation sessions that feel like they are doing no good at all are
actually very useful.
Meditation may not feel like it is ‘doing anything’ at the time, but regular
practice can be significantly helpful in dealing with stress.
If you are familiar with yoga, useful poses for meditation are the
corpse, the half-lotus, and the mountain.