1. Prayer. Sit upright, relax completely, and then offer a prayer. If you are not comfortable with the concept of God, then ask for guidance from your own higher self.
2. Relaxation. Inhale, tense the whole body, then throw the breath out and relax. Doing this three to six times will help rid the body of unconscious tensions. Now, consciously relax the various body parts, starting with your feet and working your way gradually to the head and brain. It may help you to visualize space or light filling each area as you relax it. Physical relaxation is the first step necessary for deep meditation.
3. Regular Breathing to Relax the Mind. The breath is intimately linked with the mind. By controlling and relaxing the breath, we influence the mind to become calm. Inhale slowly counting one to twelve, hold your breath for the same number of counts, then exhale for the same count. This is one round of “regular breathing.” Do six to nine rounds. Your may either lengthen or shorten the number of counts according to what is comfortable, but keep the inhalation, retention and exhalation equal.
4. Concentrate Your Awareness. Concentrate at the point between the eyebrows and dismiss all thoughts from the mind. Don’t think about the past, or worry about the future, but be completely centered in the here and now. As you begin your meditation, you will find it helpful to take a moment to consciously decide to leave all preoccupations behind. If you find that your mind stills wanders, gently bring it back to the point of concentration. Try to deepen your meditation until you become completely absorbed. Meditate with energy and enthusiasm, but stay focused and relaxed.
5. Meditation Techniques. Start with the Hong-Sau technique for five to ten minutes. Then you can practice one or more of the following techniques:
a. Chant Silently. Chants are usually simple prayers such as, “I want only Thee Lord, Thee, only Thee,” set to music. Chanting is very important because, as well as providing a point of focus for the mind, it helps open the heart and develop devotion. As your chanting becomes more internalized, try to “get behind” the words, and silently, non-verbally, express the vibration of the chant. Paramhansa Yogananda often said, “Chanting is half the battle.”
You can use a mala (prayer beads) to keep track of the number of times you have repeated a mantra or done another practice.
b. Repeat a Mantra. A mantra is a spiritual word formula, often in Sanskrit. Mantras are normally chosen because of the inherent power in the sound of the words themselves as much as for their meaning. In both chanting and repeating a mantra you should try to concentrate totally on it, excluding all other thoughts from the mind and letting it carry you into a state of complete stillness.
c. Do a Visualization Exercise.One of the best practices is to try to clearly visualize the eyes of an enlightened master or saint. You may want to start by looking at a photo or painting, then close your eyes and try to see his or her image at the point between the eyebrows. As you visualize more and more clearly, try to commune with the consciousness behind the eyes. The eyes are the “windows of the soul,” and the eyes of a self-realized master will help attune you to cosmic consciousness.
d. Call to God with Deep Devotion. Call to God (or your higher self) in the simple language of your own heart, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Let His light enter into you and transform you in whatever way He knows will be for your highest good. The best time to pray for yourself or others is when your mind is calm and your heart is pure. By praying for the world or for the welfare of others, you will inevitably be moving toward the goal of meditation: an expansion of your consciousness.
e. Enjoy the Results. Do only one or two techniques during a single sitting. The goal is to dive deep and become absorbed in the meditation experience. Don’t fill your whole meditation time with techniques. It is very important to simply sit and enjoy the silence, or love, or joy that has been awakened through the practice of the techniques.
6. Concentrate Deeply on What You Are Experiencing. Try, through deep receptivity, to increase and expand the experience. If, for instance, you are experiencing a feeling of love, let your love continue to expand until it embraces the whole world and every person and living thing in it. Continue to expand beyond the personal, giving and receiving love, until you feel that you are floating in the universal ocean of love which sustains the universe.
7. Feel God’s Response. Spend the last few minutes of your meditation trying to feel God’s response in your heart. After the more active first phase of a meditation we should become receptive, since meditation is meant to be a dialogue with the Infinite. If we listen sensitively His response will come. We receive, not through the senses nor through the mind, but through intuition. The heart area is the center of intuition and it is important to end our meditation by concentrating here.
8. Transition. As you leave your meditation try to hold on to the feeling of peace and joy for as long as possible by bringing your meditative consciousness into your daily routine. If you learn to do this, you will transform the quality of your life. You may want to take short mediation breaks during the day to recontact your inner center.
How Long Should I Meditate?
The first rule is, don’t be ruled by what others do. What works well for them may not work for you. Intensity of effort is far more important than the time spent in meditation.
Never meditate to the point of boredom. If you feel joy in meditation, stop meditating when the joy begins to diminish. Don’t force yourself to meditate when you’d much rather be doing something else.
At the same time, be a little stern with yourself. Don’t stop meditating altogether with the excuse that you have other things to do. Success won’t come to people who never try.
As a general guideline, I suggest you try to meditate at least half an hour twice a day — in the morning after you get up, and in the evening before going to bed. You’ll come to enjoy meditating, in time. Then you’ll find yourself meditating longer because you want to.
Make an effort to meditate a little longer once a week. In longer meditations, let periods of intense concentration alternate with periods of relaxed effort and peaceful receptivity. Until you can transcend body-consciousness, it is unlikely you’ll be able to meditate deeply for very long.
How to Sit Comfortably in Meditation
The proper position on a meditation bench.
One of the most important aspects of meditation is to be able to sit comfortably while maintaining a proper meditation posture.
Your back needs to be straight, and the body relaxed. You can sit in a chair, on a meditation bench, or a pillow on the floor. Here are some options.
Sitting in a Chair
Sit away from the back of the chair, with feet flat on the floor. If your feet can’t touch the floor, get a shorter chair, or place a cushion under your feet to raise them. You want your thighs to be parallel to the floor.
The correct way to meditate in a chair.
Do not lean against the back of the chair. This will tend to contract your chest. The idea is to sit with an upright, un-supported spine, and your chest expanded. However, if you are not used to sitting this way, or if you have weak neck/back muscles or injuries, there are ways to overcome this challenge.
Get a firm pillow and put it between your lower back and the back of the chair. This will support the lumbar section of the spine, helping to maintain its natural curvature. You can also place a pillow in the seat of the chair to cushion it.
Begin with short meditations, gradually increasing their time. This will allow your back muscles to strengthen over time. Energization Excercisesand yoga postures can also help strengthen your back muscles with regular practice.
Sitting on the Floor
Meditation benches are a wonderful invention for making the legs comfortable and keeping the spine upright. You can also try sitting cross-legged on a pillow. Crescent-shaped or round meditation cushions are designed to help with this position.
When one position becomes tiresome, calmly switch to another. Eventually you’ll find the best one for your body type. Remember, everybody’s body is different.
Wool Blanket, Fresh Air
It is recommended to insulate yourself during meditation from the subtle earth currents with a wool rug, wool blanket, or a piece of silk. Your meditation place should be a little on the cool side, with a source of fresh air if possible. A stuffy room will make you sleepy. Feel free to to wrap yourself in a wool or silk meditation shawl to stay warm, awake and aware!
10 Ways to Increase Your Concentration
1. Understand what concentration is: “Concentration is taking your mind off many things and putting it on one thing at a time.”
2. Decide what you want to concentrate on. In many ways, you become what you focus on — that is, you take on some of its characteristics. Have you ever noticed how couples who have been married for many years start to look like each other, or how people often come to resemble their pets, their cars, their hobbies, or their work projects?
3. Watch other people concentrating. Go see a good action movie. In the middle of it, look around at the people in the theater. What are they doing? They are absolutely still, eyes barely blinking, and their breath is slower. It would take a really major distraction to break their attention stream. These physical signs may give you a hint about ways to increase your own concentration abilities.
4. Avoid constant sensory input. Multi-tasking (trying to do more than one thing at a time), loud noises, and visual stimulation (such as from a T.V.) make concentration much more difficult, and being around them or doing them too much can put you into a habit of non-attention which can be hard to break.
5. Make it a point to put your full concentration on whatever you are doing.Don’t let anything distract you. It really helps to be in a quiet place, but you can learn to block out noise if necessary.
6. Stay calm. Deep concentration is a matter of increasing or directing your life-force or conscious, cosmic energy. The more of this kind of energy you have, the better. Scattered energy doesn’t help. It must be calm, focused energy. Learn to be calmly concentrated and be concentratedly calm.
7. Learn techniques to increase and control your energy. One such technique is Paramhansa Yogananda’s Energization Exercises. Controlling your energy is an important first step toward the ability to concentrate deeply.
8. Take breaks. Go outside and breathe deeply or take a brisk walk. Make yourself do this often and you’ll be able to return to your task recharged and ready to focus more creatively.
9. Learn to meditate. Meditation is the most powerful of all concentration enhancement techniques. Learn a few simple meditation techniques and practice them at least five minutes daily.
10. While meditating, watch your breath — don’t control it in any way, just observe. This teaches you to focus your mind on one thing at a time. As you observe your breath, it will slow down, along with your mind (this is a scientifically well-documented), and you move into a dynamic, peaceful (but not sleepy) state of being. Your mind will become recharged and creatively receptive.
Tension: Physical and Emotional
The best way to relax the body is to tense it first, and thereby to equalize the flow of tension all over the body. Then, with relaxation, you will find tensions being released that you didn’t even know existed.
Inhale, tense the whole body, then throw the breath out and relax. Doing this three to six times will help rid the body of unconscious tensions. Now, consciously relax the various body parts, starting with your feet and working your way gradually to the head and brain. It may help you to visualize space or light filling each area as you relax it. Physical relaxation is the first step necessary for deep meditation.
Regular Breathing to Relax the Mind
The breath is intimately linked with the mind. By controlling and relaxing the breath, we influence the mind to become calm. Inhale slowly counting one to twelve, hold your breath for the same number of counts, then exhale for the same count. This is one round of “regular breathing.” Do six to nine rounds. Your may either lengthen or shorten the number of counts according to what is comfortable, but keep the inhalation, retention and exhalation equal.
Releasing Emotional Tension
This practice can also help us to achieve release from mental and emotional pain. The stress that accompanies such pain usually produces physical tension. By relaxing the body, as outlined above, then extending the thought of physical relaxation to the release of tension in the mind and in the emotions, we can achieve mental and emotional tranquility with the release of tension in the body.
Whenever you feel anxious or fearful about anything, or distressed over the way someone has treated you, or upset for any reason, inhale and tense the body. Bring your emotions to a focus in the body with that act of tension. Hold the tension briefly, vibrating your emotions along with the body. Throw the breath out, and, keeping the breath exhaled as long as you can do so comfortably, enjoy the feeling of inner peace. Remain for a time without thought.
When the breath returns, or when thoughts once again bestir themselves in your mind, fill your brain with some happy memory that will provide an antidote to your emotions. Concentrate for several minutes on the happiness of that memory.
Throughout this process, look upward, and mentally offer yourself, like a kite, into the winds of inner freedom. Let them sweep you into the skies of superconsciousness.