How to Meditate the Right Way

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As a meditation teacher and practitioner, there is one question that I get asked frequently.

How do I learn to meditate the right way?

The very question lends itself to understanding, not only the reason to meditate, but what meditation is.

Let me start with the reason to meditate.  I am going to talk about the main reason many people decide to meditate, not discuss all them.  I bring that up because there are so many reasons to start a practice, which is exactly why meditation is so valuable.  It is beneficial for a variety of purposes: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

The most common reason to meditate is to become unattached to your thoughts.  It’s not to get rid of all thoughts, but to become an observer of what you think, as opposed to being drawn into to the feelings of what you think.

The anxiety that many people experience daily is not because of their thoughts, but because of the emotional attachments they place on those thoughts.

For instance, each of us has seen some type of medical drama show on television.  We have watched operations being performed.  In the context of watching it on television, it is entertainment.  You don’t feel one way or the other about the person being operated on.  They are simply an actor playing the role of someone who is sick.

However, think about a time when you were in the hospital, whether it was for something minor or extensive. Chances are good you were scared, nervous or worried, maybe all three.  Perhaps you sat in a waiting room waiting for a loved one to be operated on.  Those same feelings may have been present as well.

One of the main reasons to meditate is to train your mind like the first scenario; watching the operation without emotional attachment.  Simply seeing it, without fear, worry or any other emotions that conjure anxiety.

Can you imagine how much calmer your life would be if you were able to observe thoughts instead of automatically react, most time emotionally?

That is the most prevalent reason people look to meditate; to not get caught up in the stories of their thoughts.

With that explanation, let me talk about what meditation is.  

It is the practice of using focus and attention to transform the mind.  In doing so you will be better able to develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things.

Even though meditation is not a religious practice, the Buddhist Center explains it perfectly.

“By engaging with a particular meditation practice you learn the patterns and habits of your mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being. With regular work and patience these nourishing, focused states of mind can deepen into profoundly peaceful and energized states of mind. Such experiences can have a transformative effect and can lead to a new understanding of life.”

Meditation truly is that transformative.  However, you can’t run before you learn to walk, which is exactly why people ask that very question that started this article off.

How do I learn how to meditate the right way?

The right way to meditate is to start off by realizing that there is no right way.  If you are setting aside time to quiet your mind, whether you are “successful” or not, you are meditating the right way.

Anyone who is concrete thinker may not find that concept totally satisfying.  However, that is the nature of meditation; to think about your mind, your thoughts and your world in new and positive ways.

Regardless of whether you found that explanation satisfying or not, it was important to discuss, because it is part of the answer to the question.

In order to learn how to meditate it will serve you to select a method or teacher that understands there is no “right way”.  The culture here in the United States is based on quantification.  The focus here is on a series of labels: best/worst, most productive/least productive, fastest/slowest.  Each of these labels are non-existent with regards to meditation.  The practice itself is the benefit, not the result.  

With that in mind, you will be further along to learning how to meditate.  Let me talk about the methods of learning how to meditate

Meditation Retreats

Optimally, it will serve you to learn from someone in person, preferably someone whose very life is dedicated to the teaching of meditation.  The very nature of a retreat is that purpose.  There are several options to choose from.  Some are vacation spots that focus on meditation and technology, and some are solely for the purpose of reflection and meditation. For the purpose of this article, I would start by investigating retreats that focus on simply teaching meditation, not hiking, healthy cooking, etc.  Those are all good things.  However, while there are many skilled teachers there, it is my opinion that you may be overwhelmed by all the other choices and steer away from your real purpose, learning.

Since meditation is such a powerful tool for health as well, many hospitals teach it as way of minimizing pain and fostering a healthy lifestyle by minimizing stress.  Check your local Medical facilities for meditation instruction as well.

Transcendental meditation is a form of meditation that emphasizes learning in person exclusively.  Their site www.tm.org.  It is an amazing resource for finding a center to learn regardless of location.  They have a listing of locations worldwide.

Online courses

The next best way to learn meditation is self-teaching online.  There are hundreds of excellent instructors, myself included, whose ultimate goal is to help as many people as possible learn how to meditate.  However, at the risk of sounding like a downer, with anything on the internet, there are also many people looking to simply capitalize on the popularity of mindfulness without having any credibility.  With that said, if you are thinking of an online course, please feel free to drop me a line with the name of the course, before you enroll, and I will be happy to investigate their credentials.

Smartphone Apps

There are many apps that are wonderful for meditating once you have already learned how to practice.  However, not many of them are that beneficial for the initial learning.  Obviously, I have not investigated every app for meditation, but if you are serious about learning, I would invest in the other two options listed above.

Meditation is obviously an amazing tool to have.  You already know that, or you wouldn’t be reading this.  It is something I believe in whole-heartedly.  That is why I have dedicated my life to helping people understand it.  It is the single-most effective skill to have for improving the quality of your life.

If you are learning from a professional, there is no “right way’ to learn.  In fact, anyone teaching you, will tell you that.  If you find a teacher that professes that their way is the right way, you may have selected a teacher who is more based in ego than having you connecting to your higher self.  In those cases, simply look for another instructor.  Again, I would be happy to teach you myself or help you find someone with whom you feel the most comfortable.

I am here for you always.

Thom

Thom WaltersComment