Meditation might be the practice of focusing your attention on one specific component of life, but how can you do that properly? Is there a “perfect” way to meditate that will help to unlock the mysteries of the universe?
If you don’t know how to meditate properly, is it still possible to reduce stress, anxiety, and worry?
Here’s the biggest “secret” of meditation: there isn’t just one way to meditate properly. There is just your way.
What matters more than your technique is your openness and willingness to make time for meditation. Even if you can only spare 5 minutes during a break at work or take 10 minutes while taking a shower, finding time for meditation is more important than the way that you meditate.
You can meditate while walking. You can meditate while listening to music or reading a book. You could even meditate while driving, though that’s not recommended.
As you can see, knowing how to meditate properly isn’t about technique. It’s about timing.
If you’re already trying to meditate every day, then you’ve taken the first steps toward improving the moments of your day.
Here are some additional ways that you can keep enhancing those efforts to experience even more of what meditation can provide.
#1. Make it a formal practice
If you’re trying to fit meditation into certain windows of your day, then that is better than not meditating at all.
As you get into the habit of meditating daily, try to create a formal appointment for it that occurs at the same time every day.
Whether you fit in the time during your morning routine, during a break at work, or before you cook dinner after work at night, carve out 15-20 minutes at least once per day [but preferably 2x per day if you can].
This becomes your time and your mind and body will actually look forward to the experience.
#2. Work on calming your body before doing anything else
The first step that is often recommended is to start focusing on your breath. A deep breath in, then out, and then repeat.
This is because breathing works to calm the body down, relax it, and prepare it for the meditation session.
The only problem is that not everyone calms down in this way. If breathing works for you, then focus upon it as you settle down to meditate. If it isn’t working, then don’t be afraid to try some other techniques.
Anything that can help you to focus can be a way to begin meditating. A favorite song, brainwave entrainment products, or even the quiet hum of a water heater have all been used to create a focus point.
As long as it works for you, then you’ll know how to meditate properly. If something isn’t working, then don’t try to force it to work.
#3. Stretch it out before meditating
One of the biggest distractions that stops a meditation session fast is discomfort.
If you plan on sitting in a traditional pose for 20 minutes or more, your body is actually doing some exercise.
Stretch out the muscles so that you’ll be limber enough physically. In return, you’ll be able to stay more comfortable throughout the entire experience.
Sitting in the traditional position may be what is commonly taught, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit in the position yourself if it makes you uncomfortable.
Limit the distractions by choosing some method of stillness that works for you – even if you aren’t actually still at all. Sitting in the bathtub, taking a walk on a quiet nature trail, or even sitting in a parked car can all help to start a meditation session.
#4. Allow the frustration to come and then go
There comes a time during every meditation session where even highly experienced people will begin to doubt what they are doing.
Chore lists might start going through their heads or frustration might set in. Instead of allowing yourself to stay angry, make a conscious choice to let things go.
It doesn’t have to be frustration that keeps you away from finding a truly meditative state. Any emotion that is distracting can become problematic. That includes joy and love.
These positive emotions are wonderful, but if your focus is to stay on a solitary point and you become lost in memories of happiness, then you aren’t really fulfilling the true purpose of meditation.
Consciously choose to release the emotions to retain your focus. You can always explore the positive emotions or resolve the negative ones later.
#5. Choose one active purpose for your meditation
Before you ever begin to meditate, think about why you want to be meditating in the first place.
Are you trying to reduce your stress? Do you want to seek out answers about the universe in general? Is there a need to communicate with your subconscious self?
Whatever your one active purpose happens to be, stick with it. Use your time meditating to make sure that you are fulfilling your goals.
This does not mean that you can’t take on more than one task while meditating. You can accomplish all of the above in a single session of mediation.
Just don’t ignore your core mission for meditating. If you go outside of your routine and keep trying to multitask your goals, you’ll wind up accomplishing less than if you just stay focused on one core issue.
#6. Do something different at least once per week
Having a routine of meditation is important, but it can also become too important. Sometimes the routine takes precedence over the goal of meditating in the first place.
To stop yourself from getting into a rut, change up what you’re doing at least once per week. If you meditate with your eyes closed, then try doing it once with your eyes open. Instead of sitting, try standing.
There’s a second good reason to switch up the routine: you might find something better than what you’re already doing. Go through various different styles once per week and enjoy the variety.
#7. Put an emphasis on mindfulness
Tragedy seems to strike randomly and no one really deserves the results. Yet even within the worst tragedy, there are still small moments of perfection that can be found.
In every mistake there is the chance to learn. Life can spring anew from death. With mindfulness as a point of emphasis, it becomes easier to get in touch with these perfect moments to experience them.
How can death spring from life? Accidents happen every day. Some of them claim the lives of children. Asking a parent to bury their child is one of the worst things that this world can offer.
Yet many parents find hope in the ability to donate the organs of their child to others in need. Their tragedy can provide hope for up to 8 other families. Ultimately mindfulness helps us remember that life deserves to be celebrated because it can be so brief.
You can focus on mindfulness by experiencing everything that comes your way. Use all of your senses to experience each moment and let each moment linger as long as possible.
#8. Commit to 3 weeks of meditation at a time
It takes the average person 14-21 days to create a new routine. Instead of committing to a day at a time or maybe a week at a time, go for the 2-3 weeks.
This will help you plan out the course you will be navigating as you meditate so there will always be something to fall back upon.
The last few days are always the toughest during routine establishment. It is when the mind and body wants to rebel the most. Without a plan, it is easy to decide to give up.
#9. Do your research
Reading articles like this are good first steps toward implementing a plan for meditation. There are also numerous resources in print and other forms of media that are filled with valuable pointers to get your new routines started.
Take a few days to go over hints, tips, and advice from those who are experienced in meditation and see how you can apply that experience in your own life.
Research is important, but it is also possible to do too much research. You can get lost in the information being presented and wind up never beginning.
Take a few articles that you can read over an hour or two and then choose a couple of books or other print resources that seem intriguing. Use that information to create your own routines and you’ll put your own spin onto meditation.
#10. Listen to some good advice
Music can help to create the foundation for meditation, but guided meditation is also a great way to learn how to meditate properly.
Guided meditation can help to resolve common errors that people make while trying on their own and it can become a social event as well.
For those who don’t like the idea of meditating with a group of people, there are instructional MP3s, positive affirmation audio files, and even some old fashioned tapes or CDs that can help you find the zone you need.
#11. Create a peaceful environment
Maybe the biggest mistake that the average person makes when trying to meditate is that they don’t limit the distractions that are around them.
No matter how strong your focus tends to be, all it takes is one distraction to stop a meditation session. A peaceful environment doesn’t need to be a quiet room that is soundproofed. It does need to be some place that you aren’t going to be disturbed frequently.
I have young children and they won’t let me meditate for 20 minutes by myself. This is true. Kids under the age of 8 have a hard time being left alone these days without parental supervisions.
What you have is the perfect opportunity to teach kids how to meditate with you. It will take some time to get the kids to settle and it will be slow going at first, but it can still be done.
How do I know this? Let me tell you about a friend of mine. He has four children that are all 6 or younger. He works from home every day, schedules his time around when the kids will be awake, and works when his kids are sleeping or when his wife is home.
From 5am to 11pm, he has zero time for himself because of work or child supervision.
With 6 hours of sleep per night pushing the envelope already, getting up at 4:30am or staying up to 11:30pm weren’t really options. He has to work.
How does he get in his 30 minutes of meditation every day? By bringing all 4 kids into the room with him after lunch.
He puts on calming music – spent 3 months teaching breathing techniques to all the kids [the youngest is 3] – and now all 5 of them meditate together every day. His wife joins the group on the weekends so they meditate as a family.
It can be done. You’ve just got to put in the work to do it.
#12. Recognize every small accomplishment
Every day is going to be a little better than the day before. It can be difficult sometimes to recognize this because the nature of humanity is to focus on the negative things first and then the positive things afterward if there’s some time left.
You can do everything right, but the moment you miss a moment with your breath or lose your focus, it’s the mistake that is focused upon instead of all the successes.
After each meditation session, take a few moments to go over the pros and cons of what has just happened. If the cons outweigh the pros, then you’ll have a list of things to work on for the next day.
If the pros are going strong, then keep pushing those strengths so the positives keep increasing. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments every day to keep tweaking your system so that you can keep getting better and better.
#13. Bring in the candle
If you’re really struggling to stay focused on a single point with your eyes closed, then bring in one candle and light it.
This is particularly useful for folks who have racing thoughts while meditating that are difficult to bring under control.
Focus on the flame and let it consume your thoughts. If other racing thoughts come your way, then visualize the flame burning those thoughts away so that the purity of your singular goal is able to shine through.
#14. Be conscious about stress
When things aren’t going your way, it can become very stressful. That stress can begin to overwhelm you very quickly. Once that happens, the benefits of meditation can be very difficult to find.
If you want to know how to meditate properly, then be conscious about the stresses that you are feeling. Learn from failure instead of allowing it to overwhelm you.
If you are getting stressed out about your meditating, then it is time to change your approach to meditation in some way.
Eliminate what is stressing you out and try some other way to meditate. Loving kindness meditation, for example, has you focusing on sending joy and serenity to those who are closest to you.
If you are getting frustrated by the racing thoughts, then embrace them by thinking about how much you love others.
As you gain more control, then you’ll be able to adjust to other styles of meditation that may be more suitable to your long-term goals.
#15. Do your best to start your day with meditation
It’s pretty common to tell someone that they should meditate in the morning as soon as they can.
That might be awesome for the average person, but what about someone who works third shift? Early morning is when they’re thinking about going to bed. Second shift workers might not get up until 10am.
The bottom line is this: if you can put in time at the start of your day, then meditate then because the mind is active and fresh.
Life’s demands might prevent this from happening. When your routine is like my friend’s and starting with meditation would make him late for work, then put it in at your soonest convenience.
If that means you schedule time right after lunch, then that’s what works for you. If you’re more comfortable ending your day with meditation, then do it that way.
There is no perfect rule here. As with everything else in meditation, it’s about what you are comfortable doing.
Knowing how to meditate properly ultimately means listening to the needs of your mind, body, and soul.
Pay attention to what you’re being told and follow the wishes of your inner and outer being. This provides you with the focus you’ll need to keep meditating every day in your own way.