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"Something inside me has always been there, but now it is awake." - Rey (Skywalker)
There are no set rules or guidelines one must follow in order to meditate. Let me say that again. There are no set rules or guidelines one must follow in order to meditate. Therefore, you can design your practice in any way that allows you to accomplish your goals in your meditation session.
The key is to design a practice that best suits an individual’s personality and behaviors, so they are better able to focus on becoming aware of their inner processes rather than their outer environment. If a person has never meditated before, then it is helpful to have some general guidelines to follow in their first few meditation practices in order to provide a framework. However, the structure that is then built on that framework should be of one’s own personal design. By creating their ideal environment for meditation, they have the best chance to achieve mindfulness – focusing one’s awareness on what they are experiencing and perceiving through all their senses in the current moment.
When a person begins a meditation practice, the first thing they should work on is their physical stance or position during meditation. Again, any position that will remain comfortable to the individual for the duration of the session is acceptable. Most images you see of a person meditating have them seated with their legs crossed in a “lotus” position, hands placed by their knees, eyes closed, with a serene expression on their face. Personally, there is no way I would be serene trying to hold my body in that position for fifteen minutes or longer. I sit in a chair, feet flat on the floor, hands on my thighs, back straight, and my eyes may be open or closed. My father preferred to stand “at-ease” as it aided his visualization process. All that being said, it is recommended that you choose a posture that allows for the most open position of your chest so the flow of air to your lungs/diaphragm and therefore the flow of energy throughout the chakras in the body is not obstructed. This may require several sessions of trying different placements to find the one that allows the mind not to focus on any tension or discomfort from the position.
The next step in mindfulness meditation is to find a “focal point” to help guide you into a relaxed, but aware, state of mind. Most beginners start with the breath. By concentrating on your breathing, you are able to focus your awareness on something repetitive and rhythmic, so it is easier to sustain the desired state of mind over a longer period of time. This is just your natural breath, no need to speed it up or intentionally slow it down. The point is to have it be an anchor, something you can return to when your mind begins to wander so you can return to your practice and be successful.
While you are breathing, it is inevitable thoughts are going to cross your mind. That is the point of mindfulness meditation. You want to be aware of what you are perceiving through all your senses. You may feel tension in your body, “wanting” thoughts regarding things you desire, emotions you may not have allowed yourself to feel when an event occurred in the past, or even just thoughts about things you have to do when the meditation is over, and you continue with your day. This is all normal and part of the process. When these thoughts occur, you will recognize them for what they are by naming/saying them in your mind (“desire, sadness, planning, etc.…”) and as you return your focus to your breath, they will fade away.
As you continue in your practice, you will be able to move past these initial sensory perceptions and begin to become aware of thoughts, voices, feelings that may not be ones you typically experience in your conscious reality. This would be you connecting with your inner voice and even the spirit realm. These messages will just enter your mind without any effort on your part. In fact, once you hear them in your mind, you may be jolted from your breathing as if something woke you or took you by surprise. Just know all is well and tell yourself you will spend some time focusing on what you heard when your practice is over. You want to make sure you continue meditating in case there is more you may receive in that session. The main thing to remember is to remain calm, receive this energy, and allow your senses to remain open to anything else you are aware of during your meditation.
Mindfulness meditation will help you build that bridge between your conscious mind and the One Consciousness, Spirit. Once you are comfortable walking that bridge, you will begin to realize that your Soul has integrated with your conscious mind, and you can live life as your authentic self.
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A comprehensive introduction to begin your mediation practice!