Meditation can seem intimidating and confusing at the beginning. You might think, “well what do I do exactly? Am I supposed to have a profound experience? What happens if I don’t? Why can’t I get my thoughts to stop? Am I doing it wrong?”
Lots of “gurus” may make it seem like meditation is some big complicated thing where you need to take courses to learn how to do it properly. Transcendental meditation, for example, is a type of meditation that is held as some kind of magical art where one must pay thousands to learn the secret process… I can promise you that you do not now, nor will you ever need to pay anyone to teach you how to meditate.
You may choose at some point to pay an appropriate amount to someone to invest their time with you. However, meditation is not something that is only available to those with money. It is available to absolutely everyone. Meditation is not something that can only be done with proper training. It can be done by absolutely anyone. Meditation does not have a specific form or mantra that would give you a profound experience on your first try. Meditation is perfected only through practice. It is like a muscle that needs to be strengthened by daily use.
The basics are simple, and if you wish to obtain deeper training you can find a monk or other master who will teach you for free, usually by showing them you are serious about learning and not wasting their time.
Here’s all you need to know to get started:
When you sleep your brain switches from beta and alpha waves to theta and delta waves. You do not tell your brain to switch states, nor do you think your brain into a sleep state. You lie down, you close your eyes, and you wait. You don’t purposely stop your thoughts. You just get into position and wait. Your brain naturally does the rest. The same goes for meditation.
What trips most people up in the beginning is the belief that you have to stop your thoughts, or that you need to do something specific to get it right. The truth is that all you need to do is get into position and wait. The only difference between sleeping and meditating is that when you meditate your position is less comfortable. It is usually a sitting or lotus position. The point of that is to keep you from falling asleep. So it’s the exact same process except that the goal is to keep yourself in a mid waking mid sleeping state called theta.
The other way you can get into a waking theta state is by focusing on something peaceful like reading. The difference between reading and meditating is that when you are reading you are feeding information into your mind from what you are reading. When you are meditating the idea is not to stop your thoughts completely or shut your brain off, but to relax your brain into a calmer stream of thoughts, and limit stimulus so that your mind can focus internally.
While meditating your mind can become introspective. It can process things differently than it would when your brain is more aroused and you are reacting to your surroundings. It allows you to be reaction free and get a better grasp on the thoughts in your mind allowing the opportunity for clarity and even epiphanies.
If you would like to use a mantra you can. The idea behind a mantra is that it is something that you can repeat over and over to pull your focus to keep your mind from wandering. A good mantra is a non-word sound with one or multiple syllables so long as it does not remind you of anything such as another word. It should be meaningless so that it does not inspire new thoughts.
So when you are ready to meditate, sit in a comfortable position, but not so comfortable that you will fall asleep. Close your eyes and wait. I’ll repeat that. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and wait. Don’t worry about what it should feel like or if you’re doing it right. Just do it for as long as you can, even if it’s only a few minutes. Then do it again later or the next day. Wash, rinse, repeat.