Basically, there is no such thing as the one and only guide to meditation. Depending on your goals and which form of meditation you use, there are different ways how you can meditate.
We at HHC have created a practical step-by-step meditation guide for you that corresponds to most types of meditation.
Step 1: Prepare Yourself
There is a concept that describes the ideal initial state for meditation: the beginner’s mind, also known as Shoshin.
Shoshin is an unbiased and unprejudiced mind with which you are in the optimal state for meditation. Shoshin belongs to the basics of meditation and has certain principles:
- Start without expectations
- Discard any prejudices
- Experience reality in the present moment
- Be prepared for everything
- Don’t resist
Simplicity in this context means: less is more. The simpler, the better. Drop everything from your mind that is unimportant in the current moment.
Simplicity is one of the reasons most people struggle with meditation. Don’t follow rigid instructions and rules on how to do meditation properly. Otherwise, spend your time worrying if you’re doing everything right. In the end, this only distracts and diminishes the meditation experience. Meditation is a process where you have to let go.
As a result, always keep meditation simple.
Another key characteristic of successful meditation is humility. The attitude of constant humility is in many ways a decisive factor in the practice of meditation. Always try to meditate with an open attitude and plenty of humility.
The most wonderful and beautiful insights will then come naturally.
When you begin to meditate, you should be ready to experience everything that happens around you. Once you internalized this concept, you will find it easier to meditate, since you will not need to deal with the fear of unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Things from which you sought distraction earlier, will lose their intensity and thus their power over you.
This is the moment when you can speak of true peace of mind.
As mentioned, prejudices hinder a successful meditative experience. The essence of meditation is to experience reality in the present moment.
In this context, the best attitude you can have during a meditation session is a beginner’s mind. Cherish and nurture that attitude.
Now that we’ve introduced you to the right approach to meditation, here are a few tips on how to prepare for optimal meditation:
- Find a place with little distraction. Distraction in itself is not bad, but especially for the beginning, it’s better to start with less distraction.
- Start small. 3 – 5 minutes of meditation a day are perfectly sufficient for the beginning.
- Set a timer. Stop worrying about the length of your meditation session and just meditate.
- Turn off telephones, televisions, smartphones and other interfering factors.
- Play relaxing background music.
- Try to avoid sugar and caffeine. It’s more difficult to truly relax after eating a lot of sugar or drinking caffeine.
- Especially for longer sessions, you should stretch before you start. This relaxes the muscles and releases tension in your body.
- Wear comfortable clothing. If your clothes make you feel uncomfortable, it is difficult to get calm and it holds the risk of getting distracted. Try to wear loose clothes and take off your shoes.
Step 2: Easy Meditation
Now that you prepared, the next step is to actually start meditating.
1. Find a Comfortable Position
Sit on your bed, chair or wherever you like. All that matters is that you feel comfortable. You can also lie down, but we recommend that beginners meditate in a sitting position, as it is incredibly easy to fall asleep.
Traditionally, meditation is done in a lotus position, but this position can be uncomfortable especially for beginners as they usually lack flexibility in their legs, hips and lower back. It’s best to choose a comfortable posture that allows you to sit with a balanced and upright posture.
In fact, it makes no difference whether you meditate in the familiar lotus position or simply sitting on a chair. The results and experiences are the same.
The most important thing about posture is that you sit comfortably, relaxed and with a balanced upper body so that your spine can support all your weight from the waist.
2. Open or Close Your Eyes
Close your eyes. Naturally, you can also meditate with your eyes open. However, it is easier, especially for beginners, to meditate with your eyes closed, as you avoid visual distractions.
3. Breathe in and out Consciously
Now start to pay attention to your breathing. Take three to four deep breaths and concentrate on inhaling and exhaling. Feel your stomach going up and down as you breathe. Don’t try to consciously change your breathing pattern, just breathe normally.
Imagine how you breathe out negative energy and breathe in positive energy, in these first breaths and focus your mind on the upcoming meditation.
Try to only focus on your breathing. Don’t think about your breathing and don’t judge it. An example of such a thought could be “Was this breath shorter than the last one?”. Just try to get to know your breath by focusing on the in and out.
4. Keep Your Body Still
The next step is to concentrate on your body after you have stabilized your breathing. Keep the body still and try to not move. Especially at the beginning, this part might be difficult. On the one hand, you should actually relax, on the other you must consciously concentrate on sitting motionless, which is a bit of the opposite.
5. Let Things Go
After keeping your body still for several minutes, you have to let go.
Allow everything that happens to happen without the will of changing anything. Again, avoid judging, prioritizing, or interpreting.
Just let it happen.
For example, if a car drives by, you don’t care who is sitting in it or how old the car is. You only perceive the current moment and realize that a car has passed by. That’s all. Don’t stick to past events, too. After the car has passed, banish this thought from your mind and concentrate on the presence.
Finish the meditation after 20 minutes by slowly opening your eyes and slowly returning to your normal state.
Step 3: Develop a Routine
The third and final step of this step by step tutorial is to develop a daily meditation routine.
Make it a habit to meditate daily. Establish a regular meditation time and consider where and when the sessions should take place. We at HHC recommend meditating twice a day for about 20 minutes. You should do the first session after getting up and the second session after dinner.
To accomplish this, you should follow three simple principles: short – today – regular.
Set regular mini-targets for meditation to stick with it. One mini-target could be: “I want to meditate for 3 to 5 minutes today“. Confess your mini-target and meditate no matter what happens today.
Why are these mini goals so important? Let’s say you set yourself the goal to meditate 20 or 30 minutes, right away. You might have no problems reaching that goal. However, by decreasing this time to 5 minutes, the odds get way higher. Remember, it’s always easier to extend a 3-5 minute session into a full meditation session. Write a little memory that will remind you of your mini-goal to make sure that you don’t miss it.
Even if you don’t manage to meditate longer than 5 minutes: short and regular meditation is better than long and infrequent.
Another hint at this point: focus only on your daily goal. Do not try to recreate yesterday’s meditation session. Each meditation is unique. Don’t get frustrated if it feels different today than it felt the day before.
If you don’t get to the moment of letting go, don’t get frustrated. It happens even to people who meditate for years. Sometimes you just can’t relax enough.
In addition, you should see meditation as a lifestyle rather than a cut-off session that you do daily. Meditation is not separated from the rest of your life, but a part of it. It’s a life attitude based on the idea of focusing your attention on what you are experiencing in the present moment, whatever that may be.
Basically, it’s not much more than becoming aware of what you’re doing.
The thing is: no additional effort is needed to consciously practice mindfulness in daily life.
You will begin to notice when your attention deviates from the present and you switch to autopilot. Then you’ll have the opportunity to bring your attention back to the present moment. You’ll be surprised how often you subconsciously do things.
Alright, now that you read this chapter you know a proven practice that has worked for us and that works best for beginners.