A meditation method is really just an activity we can give our restless mind when we want it to settle. The meditation teacher Mingyur Rinpochecalls this restless mind, our monkey mindand he advises giving our monkey a job to do. That’s how we try to tame it and get it working for us, rather than against us. The job we give our monkey mind is to pay attention to an object that we use as a support for our meditation. In actual fact, we can use pretty much anything as a support for meditation but when we are starting out, it helps to keep it simple.
In this post we will look at two excellent meditation methods that can work for beginners.
Using the breath as a meditation method
This is a very accessible method of meditation. Here are the guidelines.
- Our breath is always with us – we breathe all day long.
- We can do this meditation anywhere and at anytime
- Because it is so accessible, we can do very short moments of this meditation throughout the day
The only disadvantage that I know of is for people who might be asthmatic or have any kind of problem with their breathing. Putting attention on to the breath can be uncomfortable.
Using a candle as a meditation method
This is another easy-to-do method. Here are the guidelines.
- This is a useful alternative for people with any kind of breathing sensitivity
- Having a lighted candle makes a very pleasant atmosphere and helps us focus.
- The method is not portable – you need to do it in one place.
- You need to prepare your session with a candle, a lighter and so on.
- Some people find the flame itself hard to focus on.
Which method should you use?
If you are beginning with meditation, my advice would be to try both methods but to do this in a systematic way.
- Only use one method in each session
- Try one method for a few days and make a note of how it works for you.
- After the few days are up, try the other method and keeps notes again.
- Choose the method you feel worked best for you during the experimental period.
Another idea would be to use the candle method when you are at home and doing your formal session. Use the breath method throughout the day for short moments of meditation on the bus, waiting in queues, before a meeting and so on.
Things you might find useful when you do a meditation session
It’s best to keep things as simple and uncluttered as possible. However, from a practical point of view there are things that help a session to feel stable and welcoming.
Here are a few pointers:
- set your timer before your session so you can relax and not keep checking
- turn off any devices that might buzz, or bleep during your session
- perhaps have a cup of tea, or glass of water at hand to drink
- often people like to have a shawl to wrap around their shoulders or put across their knees
I once saw a very funny comedy sketch about someone setting up their meditation session. They arrived with a huge bag of stuff and spent ages laying it all out. The audience were in fits. By the time they were ready and finally sitting down, their timer went off and it was time to finish! So do be comfortable but don’t go overboard.