How to Meditate (2 techniques)

When you sit to meditate, you can use several different poses.  You can sit on a chair with your back away from the back of the seat.  You can sit in a kneeling position, with your shins on the floor (called “seiza” in Japanese).  You can sit with your legs crossed.  For the flexible, you can sit with one leg across your opposite thigh (half lotus from hatha yoga).  For the extremely flexible, you can bring each foot to each opposite thigh (full lotus posture). Whatever pose you use, make sure that your spine is straight.  Your shoulders are back, and relaxed, and your chest is pointing slightly upwards.  Your chin is level to the floor.  Your hands can go palm up at the junction between the thighs and abdomen, or on tops of your thighs, anywhere between your knees and your abdomen.

Whenever you sit to meditate, make an effort to discipline the body and not move.  A restless mind results in a restless body.  When you discipline the body not to move, the mind slows down.

Preparation Exercise 1: 20, 20, 20 Breathing

Exhale all of the air in your lungs with a double exhalation, which sounds like “huh huhhhhh.”  This double exhalation is only done once, at the beginning of the meditation.  It’s purpose is to expel old air out of the lungs, and to stimulate the diaphragm, so you can begin deep breathing.

Breathe in for the count of 20.  Hold to the count of 20.  Exhale to the count of 20.

Immediately breathe in for the count of 20 again.  Repeat the 20, 20, 20, breathing exercise 6-12 times.

Diaphragmatic breathing is extremely powerful method for a healthier body and mind.  When you breathe from your lower stomach, you are taking in more air into your lungs.  The body will be more relaxed as will the mind.  Your muscles aren’t starved for oxygen.

If you watch a baby breathe, they don’t breathe with just their upper chest.  They are relaxed and utilize the entire capacity of the lungs, just as you do when you sleep peacefully.  Whenever you are stressed or tense from any negative emotion or state of mind, your breathing will be shallow.

How many times has your BJJ instructor told you to relax?  If you develop the habit of deep breathing from practicing it, you will be able to relax while you roll.


Preparation Exercise 2: Tense and Relax

Next when you inhale, tense every muscle in your body.  Hold for a 3 seconds, then exhale and relax.  Repeat 6-12 times.

Technique of Meditation 1: Watching the Breath

For a focus point, you can look up slightly, as if you are looking at the point between your eyebrows.  The reason for this is that when you sleep, your eyes tend to look downwards.  One of the worst habits you can develop in meditation is sleeping!  The yogis say that looking down draws you into the subconscious, looking forward is regular waking consciousness, and looking up is the superconsciousness.

With this technique, you are watching the body breathe, without controlling the breath.  Let the body inhale and exhale, and don’t make either happen.  Just watch both.  If you practice this technique, you can develop the ability to relax at will.  It can change your life!

The more you practice this, the better your concentration will be.

Modern life does not encourage focus- it does the opposite.  Practicing this will help you feel much more peaceful.


Technique of Meditation 2: Feel the Stillness

Another technique you can use is to attach yourself to the feeling or calmness within.  You are looking for the pauses between thoughts, the silence.  Holding onto that state is the key to feeling a deep state of peace.

As far as the focus point, there is one more focus point that can be used on most meditation techniques: the heart area.  The yogis of India say that the center of higher feeling is the heart, and the center of will is at the point between the eyebrows.  I have found that if I tend to think too much, the heart is a better focus point.

Important Guidelines for Meditation:

  1. One of the other most important rules, besides not moving, is not thinking.  Thinking is what you do all day.  It is not meditation.  Meditation is being, and being aware of being.  Thoughts will come.  Just don’t hold onto them.  It is true that our mind and ego are looking for entertainment, drama, and excitement.  When a thought passes through, you may be tempted to play with it.  “My boss was a little snippy with me today when they told me …”  You will be tempted to run through all the scenarios of what you could have said back.  And what you can say tomorrow.  Don’t grab onto the first thought.  Let it go as if it’s not yours.  Always return back to watching the breath and being completely in the present moment.  People talking about not living in the past or future.  This is your chance!
  2. If you feel any tension in the body, let it go.  If an area is bothering you, you can even tense the area, then relax it.  But be careful to not give into the tricks of the mind.  The mind will tempt you with whatever it can to get you restless and busy.  Restlessness and lack of peace are strong habits.  They can only be countered by their opposite- no thinking, relaxation, interiorization, calmness, and stillness.
  3. If you give into your thoughts and your restlessness, you are not really meditating.  You are just being busy while trying to sit still.  Some days it is harder than others to meditate.  On the days when the mind resists all discipline, it is a victory to just sit still and resist.  You will most likely not have a deep, interiorized meditation, but you are creating new habits.  One meditation later, or a week later, you may experience deep peace.  That is the result of the work you had done during that restless meditation.
  4. Sometimes when you sit, it is easy.  When things are easy, we tend to not try as hard.  This will lead to the meditations where we struggle.  Do not try to force the state of deep peace and calmness.  You can’t.  When you are very calm, it comes.  If you try to force it, you are straining, which creates tension.
  5. You will get the best results when you meditate twice per day, or more often, in the morning and evening.  Do not meditate on a full stomach.  It won’t hurt you, it will just be difficult to achieve deep stillness when the body is digesting food.
  6. It is also helpful to do longer meditations once or more per week.
  7. Do not have any caffeine, sugar, stimulants, or depressants before you meditate.  You are trying to get beyond the body and beyond the mind, so anything that stimulates either will keep you from getting really still.
  8. As far as time limits, start with 5 minutes of watching the breath.  When you add the 20-20-20 breathing, and tensing and relaxing, that will add another 5 minutes.  So it will take about 10 minutes in the beginning.  If you can do more, you will get more benefits.
  9. The general rule is that quality is more important than quantity, but both length and depth are important.
  10. The goal is for the body to start to fall asleep, but the mind remains awake.  In sleep, the energy in the body retreats from the senses and nerves into the spine and brain.

2 Responses to “How to Meditate (2 techniques)”

  1. Shawn King says:

    Thanks for the great tips…

    I had a few techniques… but they did not include all of these…

    I’m sure this will help a lot…

  2. Fredrik Karlsen says:

    Thanks alot. I will try this when i get home from work =).

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