I’d like to try meditation, but I don’t know where to start. Any recommendations? Thanks, CS
Thanks for asking. I hear this question often. I’m happy to suggest a few ways to find a meditation practice, and will also provide a simple method for getting started.
Finding a method can feel overwhelming because it seems that there are so many types of meditation. To narrow it down, let's look at general categories of meditation:
Breathing meditation – which involves sitting with eyes closed and being aware of your breath.
Empty Mind meditation – which involves sitting and emptying the mind of thoughts.
Walking or Moving meditation – which involves moving the body. This can include yoga. In my opinion, most all forms of yoga can be considered meditation.
Mindfulness meditation – which involves becoming deeply aware of what is here right now in the present, including thoughts, feelings, and sensations. The goal is to simply notice and witness what’s present, and do this without judging or analyzing any of it. This is one of my favorite methods for releasing stress and feeling peace.
Mantra meditation – which involves sitting and repeating a mantra, which is a word or phrase you repeat silently or aloud. You may choose your own mantra, or in some traditions such as Transcendental Meditation (TM), an experienced teacher gives the student a mantra.
My first official meditation training was in TM. It was a life changing experience for me, because I discovered that by simply sitting silently for only 20 minutes, 1-2 times a day, I was connecting into my self in a way that was powerfully grounding, centering, and quieting, AND I was connecting into a silent, deep knowing about the source of all life and my purpose here.
I know, that sounds pretty epic, but it’s why I so highly value meditation and stay devoted to my practice of it. And because I’m curious, I’ve benefited by trying different methods over the years. I also believe that anyone who is looking for a meditation practice, like you CS, will find the type that is best suited to them, and that it may differ from person to person. So, move in the direction that feels best to you.
To get started, feel free to try the simple mantra meditation below. If you like it, try it once a day for 32 days. You can do it twice a day too if you like, in the morning and evening.
So Hum Meditation
The So Hum Meditation technique is also known as So Ham, Soham, or Sohum. It is said to come from the Yoga school of Hindu Philosophy. So Hum is Sanskrit and literally means "I Am That" and the mantra’s aim is to bring about the natural union of your individual consciousness with divine or source consciousness.
Sit comfortably in a cross-legged lotus pose, or in an upright position with your feet on the floor. Rest your wrists on your knees, with thumb and index fingers lightly touching.
Set your alarm for 10-20 minutes.
First, take 5 deep, slow breaths through the nose.
Then, begin the So Hum meditation. INHALE slowly while silently saying the sound "Soooooo" and then slowly EXHALE while silently saying the sound "Hummmm". Continue this, inhaling to "Sooooo" and exhaling to "Hummmm".
When the timer goes off, let yourself sit quietly for another minute or so. Get up slowly.
The Value of So Hum and Breath
One of the easiest and most direct ways to train the breath, and in turn, regulate the nervous system, relax the body, and quiet the mind is through So Hum mantra meditation practiced at a steady, slow speed, with exhalation somewhat longer in duration than the inhalation.
If you like this technique and don’t wish to use a timer, get a set of Mala beads, and use them as your counter/timer. The typical set of mala beads has 108 beads. By counting one bead per breath, it takes about 15-20 minutes or so to complete one round of the mala. Once you read more about Mala beads, you’ll understand what I mean, and they’re easy to find.
You can find a wealth of information about meditation on the internet, in your local bookstore or library, or by asking friends who might know. Set your intention to find a meditation practice that works for you, and I have no doubt you’ll find one. And if you like this So Hum meditation, maybe you've found what you were looking for! Remember, meditation is a practice, so be patient with your self and your mind and give it time. There’s no place like home, which is the powerful docking station called “You”.
Copyright 2011 Maddisen K. Krown M.A.