Saturday, January 15, 2011

Meditation at home: as little as ten minutes a day can change your life

Starting a meditation practice sounds so daunting to the beginner. The numerous varieties of meditation techniques can be overwhelming to those that may be interested in starting a simple practice.

Yet, the benefits of regular meditation range from balancing bloodpressure to easing or eliminating anxiety. Meditation practice can improve depression, anxiety, frustration, anger, immunity, digestive and eating disorders. It can help the body to heal itself and is great for aiding cancer treatment. It can heal broken self-confidence, helping to create stronger, more positive thought patterns and is phenomenal in changing negative habits into healthy ones.

Regular meditation practice can increase health and vitality, grow inner peace and release lasting joy. There is only one catch: to realize the myriad benefits, one has to practice regularly. That simple fact is enough to deter many people from ever trying in the first place. It is actually easy to get started meditating and with a month of regular practice the habit can become more natural to maintain. After a few months, many encouraging results may manifest, making meditation a practically self-sustaining habit.

To practice at home, it is important to set up a small, comfortable space that can be devoted to practice. A little cushion or floor pillow in the corner of your bedroom can be enough. It is highly recommended that you keep this space set up, undisturbed and don't let others use it. A closet or small room could be set up for meditation if you would like something more elaborate. You can set an inspirational picture or decorate a small table or altar with inspiring and beautiful things. Try to keep your space neat and uncluttered. Think calming and soothing as your motif.

Set a regular time in the morning or evening for practice, or practice twice a day for faster results. First thing upon waking is conducive for most people (after answering the call of nature). Sit cross-legged or kneel and practice for ten minutes each session to start. Over time, as you feel benefits from practice and are encouraged, you can add two to five minutes every couple months, up to one 30 minute session or two 20 minute sessions daily, or more if you wish. Some teachers recommend up to two sessions of an hour each, daily.

Regularity in practice is key, both in establishing the habit and in increasing concentration. Seated meditation is easier after practicing yoga poses until your body feels harmonized and lighter. Upon completing your yoga practice, or after a few tension-relieving stretches, kneel or sit cross-legged in your meditation space.

Settle your body into a steady upright posture, being as effortless as possible while sitting up straight. Begin taking a few comfortably deep breaths, noticing the sensation of breathing. Relaxing any unneeded tension you become aware
of. Slowly become aware of the sensations throughtout your body- the feeling of your body in space, the sense of energy or aliveness flowing through you, and of course, your emotions and thoughts.

Don't try to force the thoughts to quiet down. Instead, let them run in the background, not giving them any reaction, judgement or energy. Let them be a small part of your experience instead of the whole they often are. Focus most of your attention on what you are actually experiencing
in the present moment.

For added concentration, with your eyes closed, focus your inner gaze at the point in between your eyebrows. If your eyes tire, relax your inner vision to the general "screen" seen with closed eyes.

To help keep focused you can use internal mantra repitition. If you don't have a mantra you can use "om" (aum). Hear the mantra repeating in harmony with the breath.

Be patient. Each day is different. Concentration comes slowly. Be non-judgmental. Throughout practice aim to keep open, passive awareness as best as you can.

With regular practice you will find encouraging results. Be dilligent. Practice kindly, don't make practice stressful.

Your little meditation practice can transform you and your life. Respond honesly according to your awareness in each moment. Be dilligent, be compassionate and don't give up!

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