How to Meditate. Part 1
If I had a dime for every time someone asked me how to meditate, I'd be a gagillionaire. Practically.
For context, I've been meditating for at least a dozen years. I've taken meditation classes on various meditation techniques. I've read all different sorts of books on the subject. I have been a regular at different group meditations called sangha. I used to host daily morning meditations on FB live. Generally, I have a daily meditation practice as part of my daily self-care--like brushing my teeth or taking a shower. Sometimes I meditate for an hour (or more) twice a day. Other times I "tune in" for a minute or two in the morning before work. Sometimes I sungaze as an extension of my meditation practice. In short, I'm a trained meditator who actively practices the practice of meditation.
Before we talk about "how" to meditate, it's important to talk briefly about "what" meditation actually is. And what mediation isn't.
What is Meditation?
Kendra Cherry wrote an article for Very Well Mind called "How Meditation Impacts Your Body and Mind" and describes meditation like this:
Meditation can be defined as a set of techniques that are intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. Meditation is also a consciousness-changing technique shown to have many benefits on psychological well-being.
Some key things to note about meditation:
- Meditation has been practiced in cultures all over the world for thousands of years.
- Nearly every religion, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, has a tradition of using meditative practices.
- While meditation is often used for religious purposes, many people practice it independently of any religious or spiritual beliefs or practices.
- Meditation can also be used as a psychotherapeutic technique.
- There are many different types of meditation.
Rev. Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith of Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles, CA defines mediation as "paying undistracted attention to reality. For me, this essentially means that when I'm meditating, I'm letting what is-- be what it is. The practice is not letting my attention get hijacked by things going on around me. In other words, whether I'm sitting on my zafu ...
or practicing a guided walking meditation
I am centered.
I will also state here that meditation is not really something that can be taught. If only because meditation is going to be different for everyone. A meditation practice, should you choose begin one, will be unique to you. Just like there are over 8 billion people on the planet, there are over 8 billion ways to meditate. You literally can't get it wrong.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where we'll chat about how to start a meditation practice.
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