How To Meditate: A Beginner's Guide

By Sharee James

A regular meditation practice has been proven to help reduce stress, anxiety and worry and to help people feel calmer, happier and more productive. But a lot of people try meditation just once or twice and give up because they find it difficult or fail to experience any benefits straight away. And most novices are under the mistaken impression that they must be able to stop their thoughts if they are to meditate "properly" only to discover that trying to stop thoughts is both frustrating and impossible!

Please let me reassure you, you don't have to stop your thoughts! Meditation is actually really simple. There are thousands of meditation techniques out there (focusing on your breath, repeating a mantra in your mind, feeling the sensations in your body, gazing at a candle or a mandala). But basically there are just 2 steps to any meditation practice.

Firstly, focusing your attention on the object of your concentration, and secondly, when your mind wanders (which it will OVER and OVER again) simply notice and bring it back to your object of concentration. Rinse and repeat.

Eventually, rather than stopping your thoughts, you get better and better at not getting LOST in your thoughts, and you are able to tap into another aspect of your consciousness beyond your thinking mind: the aware mind.

Throughout the day, we are mostly caught up in our THINKING MIND rather than our aware mind, and this is why we experience stress, frustration and worry. The thinking mind habitually gnaws on problems, makes a lot of noise and drama and likes to dwell on the future or the past. Sadly, the present moment is never good enough for the thinking mind, it is constantly on the lookout for something better or different, which leads to dissatisfaction.

Conversely, the aware mind, is not bound to the past or the future, but the experience of here and now. This leads to surrender, satisfaction and peace because it seeks nothing, it simply experiences the moment as it is. Regular meditation practice develops your mind's ability to slip into the state of awareness more easily, and gradually, this awareness starts to affect your everyday life in positive ways.

With a regular daily practice of even just 10 or 20 minutes you will see many benefits. It will be easier to make healthier choices for yourself because of your increased self-awareness. Dealing with stress, worry, anxiety and depression will become much easier. Relationships can improve as you become kinder - to yourself and others. Sharper concentration and focus will improve your work-life. But best of all, you will be able to enjoy the precious moments of your life instead of wondering where they disappeared to while you were preoccupied with other things.

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