There was a time when mentioning the word “meditation” might elicit askew glances and behind-the-back whispers. It was once considered a bit of an odd practice in Western society, and thought of more as the domain of difficult-to-pronounce religions and long-bearded gurus. Since that time, however, mainstream America has had the chance to learn a few more facts about meditation, and has begun to embrace the practice as a powerful tool for life enhancement.
If you’re interested in learning how to meditate for beginners, you’ll be happy to discover that there isn’t a great deal of complexity to it. But the simple things can be deceptively difficult. For example, one of the principal goals of meditation is to calm and slow the mind. Our minds produce an endless stream of thoughts, phrases, sentences, and even entire conversations throughout our day. We’re continuously bombarded with a constant flow of ideas; while that may at first sound like a good thing (we could all use more ideas, right?), psychologists have performed studies that show that 98% of our thinking is repetitive and largely useless. One of meditation’s goals is to increase the gap between thoughts, and ultimately to become adept at entering a thoughtless state in which the mind can finally become still.
This is much more difficult than it sounds, so there are a number of useful meditation techniques for beginners that will help start you down this path. One is just to focus on your breathing. Don’t think about your breathing, just focus on it. Words will come to your mind. When they do, gently redirect your focus back to your breathing. At first, you’ll have difficulty achieving a one-second gap between thoughts, as crazy as that sounds. Over time, however, you will become more adept at it, and at the level of mastery, your mind will finally serve you, instead of the other way around.