Many people start a meditation practice by assuming it should be easy. At first, this is not the case. As soon as meditation begins, the mind wants to do anything and everything else. Your mind, like everyone’s mind, wants to be free.
Meditation is a training of the mind. Stick with it, because once the mind settles down, good things start to happen and it will not be so difficult. Meditation feels good, once your mind relaxes into it. My best advice to you about meditating is to surrender to the moment and just BE.
There is no need to get caught up with ensuring your body is in the “correct position” or doing anything specific with your hands. Just get comfortable, in a position where you will not easily fall asleep.
Put your hands lightly on your legs or knees, or clasp them gently together, if that feels more comfortable for you. Hold your jaw slack to avoid jaw pain, and tuck your tongue behind the back of your upper front teeth. This is the most relaxing facial position for meditation. Keep your spine limber but upright, and tuck your chin in a slightly downward position to avoid getting a tension headache from straining your neck.
There is absolutely no need to twist your body into a pretzel while meditating. Just relax into a posture you can hold for the time you have set aside to meditate.
Another common assumption about mediation is that you are not supposed to think about anything. That’s actually impossible, so don’t worry about arising thoughts. Just try not to get carried away by them.
By choosing an object of meditation, such as the breath or another body sensation, the mind can more easily focus on that and not get carried away as easily by all the thoughts that flash around. Just let them come and go. The important ones will come up again, so you don’t need to follow them.
A good meditation practice starts with noticing, as single-pointedly as possible. Everything else slides away, and you’ll find yourself getting into a groove with it. Once you have built this level of concentration, sometimes known as access concentration, you can choose where to go from there.
There are many interesting and diverse meditation practices, all of which incorporate some level of mindfulness. In this instruction, I will focus on generating gratitude.
Once you have access concentration, which is the experience of an ease in staying with your object of meditation, you can switch focus to gratitude. If at any time you start feeling agitated or distracted, go back to just noticing your object of meditation. This will always be your grounding experience.
Don’t worry if you spend your whole meditation working on this. Even the most experienced meditators have meditations where they struggle to just focus. This is why meditation is always referred to as a practice. Just be with whatever is. Noticing what is happening is your only job during meditation.
Whenever you are ready to switch your focus to gratitude, you can do that. Really feel it. Enjoy being grateful. Begin to include other objects of gratitude. For example, you may think of someone close to you who you feel thankful for. Or you may think of something someone did to make you feel special or appreciated. Isn’t this a pleasant practice?
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