Meditation is a beneficial practice, there is no doubt.
The results, however, are not instantaneous. The meditator is required to focus and discipline him or herself constantly. Due to this, it can be said there are numerous levels of expertise one can achieve in the process. There are those who have mastered the art and can reach a Zen-like state almost immediately, because they have come to know and understand their mind, body and spirit. However, those who are just starting out in the practice of meditation might find themselves discouraged and will have to keep committing to the practice over and over. Meditation is strength training for your mind.
Although many start a meditation practice at some point during their lives, few stick with the practice in the long run. One issue that presents itself is the difficulty in finding an adequate position to sit while meditating. The traditional position is the lotus pose, which requires quite a bit of hip flexibility, many of us who sit in chairs and on couches for many hours struggle with.
Although lotus is traditional, it can become very uncomfortable, to the point that your general discomfort demands more attention than the meditation itself. One solution is to stretch slightly beforehand, so the body is prepared and comfortable. This is why the practice of yoga was developed originally - to build strength and flexibility in the body to sit for long periods of time. Another simple solution is to experiment with different poses to find the one that most adequately accommodates your own body.
There are no hard and fast rules, except the meditation pose must be both comfortable while simultaneously keeping the individual awake, focused and alert. Whichever way you decide to sit, maintain a straight back, neck and head. Keep the head balanced and aligned with the spine. The hands can rest on your knees or on your lap, relax the face, allow the tongue to grow heavy and relax the jaw. If discomfort or pain persists, the opportunity can be used to observe how the body and mind responds.
It is recommended to resist the urge to change position. Attempt to calm your mind with the meditation instead. The most common issues with the meditative positions are mostly related to posture. For example, a misaligned back might be the cause of discomfort, or a head that juts too forward might cause sleepiness and boredom. Hold your head up high, with the ears parallel to the shoulders in an alert position. Maintain a straight back and avoid falling into a hollow or bulging back.
Choose a quiet room or place where you won’t be interrupted.
During meditation, frustration might start to creep in. Minds will inevitably start to wander and ask questions like, “What am I doing here?” and “This feels silly, I can’t quiet my mind,” and so forth. To avoid those kinds of thoughts, remember that meditation is an active process. It requires all your focus on one point, which is hard work and engaging. To meditate with a purpose is ideal; it keeps the mind from straying and the body still and focused.
Breathing techniques are also great to use during meditation, as they help your body relax and keep a steady stream of oxygen flowing into the brain which helps with focus and relaxation.
Lastly, expect a lack of commitment to arise as you move along your meditation path. In order to accrue its benefits you must be committed for the long haul. Some find their interest declines as time passes, but it is then that they must put forth the extra commitment and continue.
Paola Noriega is a writer, sociology student, musician and mixed media artist. She has enjoyed writing and reading, particularly poetry, since a young age. She plays ukulele, bikes and studies Japanese. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and two cats.