If you're considering mediation, keep in mind that no matter the style, all forms have four common elements. The first is a distraction-free environment. Especially if you're just starting a meditation habit, you'll want to
choose a location that is as free of noises and interruptions as possible. The quieter your environment is the better. As you develop your skills, you may be able to block out the noises and be able to meditate in public places, like waiting rooms, airport lobbies or other areas.
Some suggest you employ the classic Eastern pose – sitting upright, spine straight, legs crossed – in order to maximize your benefits. The NCCAM, however, explains that meditation can be performed in just about any posture, including sitting, standing or lying down. The Center also explains that you can even meditate while walking.
In fact, there is an ancient form of meditation that is just now making a revival. It's called labyrinth walking. The individual walks through a large circuitous route made of hedges or trees to the center of the structure. This physical walk symbolizes the spiritual journey into the inner self.
The third common element of all meditation is a focus of attention. Whether you choose to concentrate on your breath as you exhale and inhale or an external object is a matter of personal preference – and effectiveness. You may even want to develop your own personal mantra to recite as you meditate. A mantra is a single word or even a phrase that you repeat as you focus your thoughts. Many people simple choose the "ohm" sound. Others prefer, depending on their religious affiliation – love, Jesus, Lord or other words meaningful to them.
All meditation also requires that the practitioner has a nonjudgmental attitude. As you attempt to clear your mind of all thoughts, you need to be patient with yourself. Don't immediately judge yourself as bad if you have problems, especially when you're first starting out, clearing your mind.
Many mediators claim that the mind at first resists such clearing. They claim the ego section of the mind is the originator of these incessant thoughts. When you begin to quiet it, the ego believes it's being pushed aside. So during your first several sessions, you may notice an increase in mindless chatter.
One of the hallmarks of meditation is that you clear your mind of all "self-chatter", the clutter of thoughts that run through your mind sometimes at a rapid pace. When you find your mind wandering from your field of focus, very gently bring your thoughts back.
Meditation is best practiced twice a day – in the morning upon rising and before going to sleep in the evening. In fact, Dr. Raj Kapoor, M.D., an internist in Pittsburgh, PA, and practitioner of meditation recommends that your morning habit is best practiced between the hours of 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. These hours, he says, are considered sacred in such cultures as India. He also recommends that you face the north or the east when performing your meditation.
When you first start meditating, you may wonder whether you're doing it correctly. Roger Thomson, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Chicago and a Zen meditator. His answer to this: "If you're feeling better at the end [of your session], you are probably doing it right."
Note: Some statements in this article may not be
approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and
should not be taken as professional medical advice.