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A Beginner's Guide to Meditation

Kenneth earned his doctorate in Pastoral Community Counseling, focusing on meditation.

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Five Easy Steps in Meditating

  • Relaxation
  • Community Prayers and/or Motivational Readings
  • Thanksgiving and Petitioning
  • Listening
  • Post-Meditation

A Beginner's Guide to Meditation

Meditation is a term that is used as an umbrella to include various methods of spiritual connectedness. Every religion has some type or form of meditation that allows the participants to enjoy the oneness of their existence with the Higher Power. Those who do not profess a religious affiliation also use meditation to connect with the Unknown. Too often, we find ourselves overwhelmed with “life”, and we do not take time to relax and enjoy our oneness with God, Nature, and Humanity. With meditation, we can reignite our connection with the spiritual world and begin a healing process within our entire being. While there are many ways to meditate, the important thing to remember is that we meditate. How we meditate is not as important as the actual meditation. Any type of meditation is beneficial. Meditation should not be stressful, and if it is, then it is defeating the entire purpose of meditating. The easier the process, the more likely we are to continue meditating, and if we continue the process, we are more likely to reap the benefits of meditation. I have created an approach to meditation that I feel makes meditation less stressful.

Relax and Escape

The first part of the meditative process is to relax and mentally escape from the world and society. While this is not an easy task, it is feasible; however, it does take practice. A person cannot expect to begin a meditative regiment and be proficient at it from the start; it takes practice. The more practice we have, the more proficient we will become. One way to begin to relax is to use music. Music calms the savage beast, and it allows the opportunity for us to experience calmness and peace. Easy-listening and instrumental music is more beneficial. If the song has lyrics, then we will find ourselves singing along with the artist, which defeats our purpose of escaping. I use meditative-type music; however, I have used classical music, church music, Native American music, and chants. It doesn’t make any difference what kind we use, as long as it is soothing to our mind, body, and spirit, which is our ultimate goal in this first stage of meditation. Of course, music is optional. I always suggest trying it with and without and make a determination which is best for the individual. Meditation is, after all, an individual activity. Another method that I incorporate into these first few minutes of meditation is mantras – short, but meaningful phrases – to help focus on meditation rather than on everything that’s going on around me. One of my favorite mantras is faith over fear. As we are in this first stage, we should also focus on breathing. I use the mantra to assist in this. In my mind (or aloud), I will say “inhale faith, exhale fear”. Focusing on our breathing will enable us to relax and begin to create a sense of calmness around and within us.

Community Prayers and/or Motivational Readings

The second stage of the process of meditation is a time for community prayers. These are the prayers that have been prayed for centuries by saints and spiritual leaders. Whether we are religious has no bearing on this stage. Using positive readings from various sources will be just as beneficial. The purpose of the readings is to continue what was begun in the previous stage – separating ourselves from the world for these few minutes so that we can achieve inner peace by focusing on the spiritual rather than the physical. Using a prayer book, a book of affirmations, motivational books, poetry books, and the like will continue our path into the spiritual realm.

Thanksgiving and Petitioning

The third stage of the process of meditation is a time for thanksgiving and petitioning. This is the time when we talk to the Higher Power in our own words, rather than in the words of others. It is important, however, to realize that thanksgiving comes before petitioning. When we take time to be thankful, we acknowledge that we are truly blessed in more ways that we realize. It gives us an opportunity to say “thank you” for the little things, like a sunny day, as well as for the big things. There are events, people, and objects all around us for which we are thankful, and this stage affords us the opportunity and privilege to say aloud that we recognize those blessings and we are thankful. Once we have thanked the spiritual world for the blessings, then we can move into our petitions or our requests. It is imperative, however, to remember that we all are different and we define our spirituality differently. We are, of course, unique individuals, and our meditation allows for our individuality to blossom. The main concept within this third stage is that we acknowledge our

Listening

The fourth stage is one that is overlooked most of the time. This stage involves listening. Yes, listening – taking time to hear what the spirit world has to say to us or teach us. Too often, we will relax and be thankful and then quickly go into our wish list, and then we are off and running without the spirit world having an opportunity to share spiritual wisdom that we need for our lives. Meditation is a two-way street: We talk and the Spirit World listens, and then the Spirit World talks and we listen. It’s a give-and-take relationship.

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Post-Meditation

The final stage involves taking time to study after meditating. We are most receptive to spiritual teachings after meditation because we have removed the outside world from our lives, even for a few minutes, and we have a clearer understanding and pathway to the spiritual realm. What we study is unimportant as long as it is spiritually, morally, and ethically up-lifting. It may be Holy Scripture; it may be a how-to book; it may be a book of poetry; it may be a number of different readings. The important thing is for us to take time following meditation to absorb positive influences within our life. I allow my listening time to gather information on what I should be studying and/or reading. Oftentimes, it’s various cards. Other times, it’s reading in depth on a topic I’ve been studying. And then other times it will be spent writing.

Final Thoughts

It is important to understand that meditation is not a religious concept; it is a spiritual concept. It is also important to realize that there is no one way to meditate; each of us must personalize our meditative technique. As we begin our meditative process, we may decide to do something that we feel “should” be added. If so, we should add it without reservation; if, after doing it, we realize that it does nothing for us, then we remove it and try something else. We should allow the spirit world to lead us through this process, and if we do this, then we can’t go wrong.

REMEMBER

Through meditation, we grow spiritually. Through meditation we become one with God, Nature, and Humanity. Through meditation we can live a life of faith over fear.

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