There are a tremendous number of misconceptions about meditation. You don’t have to sit on a mountain top in the lotus position for a hundred years to meditate. In fact, you have probably done it thousands of times already and not realized it.
Meditation simply means “to think deeply and quietly” (OED). For our purposes, we are going to think deeply and quietly and look within. This is beneficial in many ways. It will help unlock our psychic abilities for instance. It enhances creativity, reduces stress, and reduces general wear-and-tear on the whole body.
There are many ways to meditate. It is easier to do this if you are relaxed. Relaxation by itself is also highly beneficial. Overly-tensed muscles restrict the circulation of blood, wastefully expend energy, adversely affect memory and vision, increase stress and can help create all sorts of illnesses.
Here are a few ways to relax and meditate.
1. Sit in a comfortable chair somewhere where you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Consciously think of relaxing all of the muscles in your body. Start either with your head or feet and then gradually relax all the muscles throughout your body. You may, for instance, use words such as this for yourself: “My neck muscles are relaxing. I feel a nice pleasant warmth drifting all over my neck. It is drifting down into my shoulders and I’m allowing my shoulder muscles to relax”. Continue right through the body till all the muscles are completely relaxed.
2. This method uses tension followed by release. Sit down in a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Squeeze your eyes as tightly shut as you can for several seconds and then relax them. Tense all the muscles in one arm for several seconds and then relax. Form your hands into fists and then relax. Some people find it easier to do this exercise lying down as then they can raise one leg in the air., hold it up for several seconds and then relax it, followed by the other leg. If you fall asleep very easily when you lie down, try this exercise seated.
3. Sit down in a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Concentrate on your breathing. Take slow deep breaths and hold them for few moments before slowly exhaling. Do this ten times, and then tell your body to relax. You will feel all the muscles slump and you will be able to get straight on with your meditation.
4. Autogenic training. These are a series of exercises developed in the early 1900s by Johannes Schultz to teach his patients how to develop conscious control of their bodies. First, sit comfortably in a chair with your legs uncrossed and your back straight. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Say to yourself, “Relax. . . relax. . . relax.” Focus your mind on the arm you use the most. Mentally say to yourself, “My right (or left) arm is heavy.” Pause ten seconds, then say it again. Repeat until you have paused and said it ten times. After this move around, open your eyes and flex your limbs. You will find that the arm you focused on is much more relaxed than any other part of your body. Repeat this with the other arm, and then with different parts of the body. Finally, relax the whole body.
It doesn’t matter which method you use, just as long as you become physically relaxed. Meditation comes from an Indian word meaning ‘wisdom’. Once we are fully relaxed we can tune in to our inner being and get in touch with our Super-Conscious mind. We become aware of being aware, and can get to know who we really are. In this state you may find it helpful to repeat a word or phrase to yourself. This could be “peace” or “Be still” – or anything else you choose. You might say to yourself:
BE still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know – that
Be still and know.