Meditation is a recognizable aspect of Buddhism, as well as an aspect of other religions, philosophies and martial arts. Think of meditation, for now, as a tool that can help calm the mind, refocus thoughts and energy, and help fight stress and anxiety. Meditation is also the means by which many Buddhists seek Enlightenment.
Although some Buddhist sects teach that certain prayers and requests to Bodhisattvas will free followers from the cycle of death and rebirth, other sects teach that through our own efforts we can learn to understand things the way the Buddha did, reaching Enlightenment through effort to end the cycle of death and rebirth.
In this fast-paced world, meditation is a challenge for many. Few of us can devote an hour or more to daily meditation and for most of us, even 30 minutes is a stretch. It is possible to reap some benefits from short meditation sessions, however, and the one offered here will help relax promote relaxation and peace. This meditation may be performed at any time of day, but ideally at the start of the day to help encourage a peaceful, relaxed mind for work and daily tasks, then at the end of the day to promote relaxation and aid sleep.
A Quick Meditation
- Mute your cell phone and turn off the TV, radio or other sound-producing devices. Don’t panic, they are only turned off briefly while you accomplish your quick meditation.
- Sit in a comfortable position, with your hands resting on your lap or at your sides, in a quiet room. Although Buddhist meditation styles have different seating and hand positions, it’s best to focus on actually getting to the meditation for now and worry about serious meditation when you reach that point.
- Straighten your back and pull your shoulders down, away from your jaw, and back to improve posture for breathing and focus. With your shoulders down and back, your spine feels more aligned and you release a significant amount of tension from the neck, head and face.
- Keep your head up but lower your gaze to the point that your eye lids almost close. It’s okay to close them if it helps.
- Focus on your breathing. Without making obvious breathing noises, inhale slowly through your nose, filling your lungs as full as you can without becoming uncomfortable. Hold the breath for a half-second before slowly releasing through your nose. The trick is to keep the breath slow so you don’t make breathing or whistling noises.
- Spend several moments focusing on your breathing. You don’t have to quiet your mind or think about anything specifically. If it helps, count the breath in and out, keeping each breath slow but paced. Each breath is nourishing the cells in your body and mind with the vital oxygen they need.
- After several moments, when you start to feel relaxed, you will notice your heartrate calming. This is particularly beneficial to people dealing with a lot of stress, emotion, and anxiety.
- If your mind starts to wander, let it. At this point in time, especially for beginners, there’s no real sense in fighting your mind. You can benefit from meditation even if your mind is never empty, quiet, or particularly calm. The important thing is to focus on the breathing, remain still, and relax.
- Remain in this position for about five minutes, focusing on the very slow, controlled breathing. Try not to fidget or adjust your position. If desired, use a meditation timer such as the type available for certain smart phones.
- Inhale a long, slow breath through your nose and open your eyes. Exhale the breath slowly, through the nose. Don’t rush just to finish; actually finish the breath.