8

votes

What advice would you give a beginner to meditation?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 03, 2011 at 12:46 AM

I want to start meditating but I do not know how to do it properly. Does anyone have experience with meditation and/or books that would help explain the practice?

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5147)

on October 03, 2011
at 12:57 AM

Hey doc, I remember you talking about that book on Livin La Vida. I never got the conneciton, then. I still don't get the connection now. Maybe I'll understand after I meditate.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on October 01, 2011
at 04:55 PM

Jon Kabat-Zinn! His books are so cool.

Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on October 01, 2011
at 04:54 PM

@Wozza. Just my two cents, but I disagree. I'm more of the camp that "mind" is more than brain. The definition I like comes from Mark Johnson, a philosopher and psychologist, who says that "mind" is "a brain, inside a body, living in an environment." Body and environment are important aspects, and at least for me, serve as a humbling reminder that I am in this world.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on March 06, 2011
at 07:00 AM

My small piece of advice is to just not take it too seriously, and don't go in with too many expectations. Just relax and enjoy it (ie, don't force it). I've found the succession of chakra system to be a quite effective tool. Meditation is fun! Ahem, ahem, in a deep/profound way.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on March 06, 2011
at 06:54 AM

I can't tell if you guys are being sarcastic or not...

B86cb1207d7a8336dad0b1bfd07d4187

on March 05, 2011
at 11:10 PM

Exactly like a puppy as there is know I or you and EVERYTHING IS the imagination of the One.

9e7039b63b656582f66d84c5255b436d

(1132)

on March 05, 2011
at 08:13 PM

not like a puppy, because the puppy and your preconception of the behavior of the puppy, is only an extension of your own imagination, as is this comment.

9e7039b63b656582f66d84c5255b436d

(1132)

on March 05, 2011
at 07:26 PM

pardon me, I'm not being cynical, just out of interest, why is meditation particularly paleo related?

22212e9ba2a041e6da6c963d4d41615a

(5773)

on March 03, 2011
at 01:31 PM

I love jon kabat-zinn!

F6019c693fc981657b1efa602298bc2d

(429)

on March 03, 2011
at 01:19 PM

No problem. Enjoy!

C2502365891cbcc8af2d1cf1d7b0e9fc

(2437)

on March 03, 2011
at 12:39 PM

I have a brain. It may play tricks, but it is one brain belonging to one person. There is no such thing as "mind".

A5ead9de259ae72f2165ecb12f4ae764

(440)

on March 03, 2011
at 12:09 PM

Great post. You seem to know meditation well.

A5ead9de259ae72f2165ecb12f4ae764

(440)

on March 03, 2011
at 12:09 PM

Thanks for the book recommendation. I downloaded a sample to my Kindle.

76f3ead3aa977d876bcf3331d35a36e9

(4620)

on March 03, 2011
at 02:33 AM

Why was this downvoted? Great advice!

Eea4c0f072bb5caa74c1fbe6dfab5f46

(942)

on March 03, 2011
at 02:27 AM

this is such a great book!

A5ead9de259ae72f2165ecb12f4ae764

(440)

on March 03, 2011
at 02:23 AM

Great answers! Thanks everyone.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 03, 2011
at 01:48 AM

Exactly! We should not identify with things like thoughts, perceptions about ourself because they are all illusions created by our mind or EGO. As we use meditation or mind-altering plants to dissolve our EGO we realize that we are in truth one with everything.

1f96ce108240f19345c05704c7709dad

(1061)

on March 03, 2011
at 01:31 AM

Great link to Stephen's article, Kama. Thanks!

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on March 03, 2011
at 12:58 AM

Here is Stephen Guyenet with some steps on how to start meditating: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/06/meditation.html

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12 Answers

best answer

9
21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on March 03, 2011
at 12:55 AM

Yes! I had an internship at the Center for Mind Body Medicine at Mass General Hospital, in which meditation was used to accomplish weight loss via mindful eating.

Dr. Benson's timeless and slim volume on the "relaxation response" gives very simple steps on how to meditate. It is only a couple dollars used on half.com.

The other best explanations I've seen are from

--Jon Kabat-Zinn

--Thich Nhat Hanh

--Anything by a zen buddhist

But the best of all might be going to a local meetup to meditate in a group. It's nice that way, because you can talk about your experience afterwards, and people can help you if you find it tough to un-scatter your thoughts. Good luck!

1f96ce108240f19345c05704c7709dad

(1061)

on March 03, 2011
at 01:31 AM

Great link to Stephen's article, Kama. Thanks!

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on March 03, 2011
at 12:58 AM

Here is Stephen Guyenet with some steps on how to start meditating: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/06/meditation.html

22212e9ba2a041e6da6c963d4d41615a

(5773)

on March 03, 2011
at 01:31 PM

I love jon kabat-zinn!

best answer

8
B86cb1207d7a8336dad0b1bfd07d4187

on March 03, 2011
at 01:06 AM

First, make the distinction that you HAVE a mind, but you are NOT your mind. Observe the random thoughts as your mind wanders and feel how they influence your emotions. The mind is an illusion. You were not born, "Eric". You were repeatedly told this until you started to BELIEVE. Exactly like a puppy. Then you were downloaded with beliefs of societal conformities, religions, etc. Later you exchanged your beliefs for other beliefs based on perceived experiences apart from the Whole. Truth is devoid of duality, fragmentation and ALL belief. We are ALL One.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 03, 2011
at 01:48 AM

Exactly! We should not identify with things like thoughts, perceptions about ourself because they are all illusions created by our mind or EGO. As we use meditation or mind-altering plants to dissolve our EGO we realize that we are in truth one with everything.

C2502365891cbcc8af2d1cf1d7b0e9fc

(2437)

on March 03, 2011
at 12:39 PM

I have a brain. It may play tricks, but it is one brain belonging to one person. There is no such thing as "mind".

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on March 06, 2011
at 06:54 AM

I can't tell if you guys are being sarcastic or not...

B86cb1207d7a8336dad0b1bfd07d4187

on March 05, 2011
at 11:10 PM

Exactly like a puppy as there is know I or you and EVERYTHING IS the imagination of the One.

9e7039b63b656582f66d84c5255b436d

(1132)

on March 05, 2011
at 08:13 PM

not like a puppy, because the puppy and your preconception of the behavior of the puppy, is only an extension of your own imagination, as is this comment.

Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on October 01, 2011
at 04:54 PM

@Wozza. Just my two cents, but I disagree. I'm more of the camp that "mind" is more than brain. The definition I like comes from Mark Johnson, a philosopher and psychologist, who says that "mind" is "a brain, inside a body, living in an environment." Body and environment are important aspects, and at least for me, serve as a humbling reminder that I am in this world.

7
Eea4c0f072bb5caa74c1fbe6dfab5f46

(942)

on March 03, 2011
at 02:38 AM

As someone who's been doing meditation practices for 25 years, I personally recommend starting with breath based meditations before you dive into quality of mind.

Beginner's Breath Meditation

one. Start out with three or seven long in-and-out breaths, thinking so- with the in-breath and hum with the out. Keep the meditation syllable as long as the breath.

two : Be clearly aware of each in-and-out breath during this meditation.

three : Observe the breath as it goes in and out, paying particular attention to the tip of the nose: also notice whether it's comfortable or uncomfortable, broad or narrow, obstructed or free-flowing, fast or slow, short or long, warm or cool.

If the breath doesn't feel comfortable, change it until it does. Or invest some time in mastering ujjayi breath

As soon as you find that your breathing feels comfortable, just start here and let your focus be on your breath.

If you are ready to be more advanced, then continue: let this comfortable breath sensation spread to the different parts of the body.

To begin with, inhale the breath sensation at the base of the skull and let it flow all the way down the spine. Then, if you are male, let it spread down your right leg to the sole of your foot, to the ends of your toes, and out into the air. Inhale the breath sensation at the base of the skull again and let it spread down your spine, down your left leg to the ends of your toes and out into the air. (If you are female, begin with the left side first, because the male and female nervous systems are different.)

Then let the breath from the base of the skull spread down over both shoulders, past your elbows and wrists, to the tips of your fingers and out into the air.

Let the breath at the base of the throat spread down the central nerve at the front of the body, past the lungs and liver, all the way down to the bladder and colon.

Inhale the breath right at the middle of the chest and let it go all the way down to your intestines.

Let all these breath sensations spread so that they connect and flow together, and you'll feel a greatly improved sense of well-being.

A5ead9de259ae72f2165ecb12f4ae764

(440)

on March 03, 2011
at 12:09 PM

Great post. You seem to know meditation well.

5
E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on March 03, 2011
at 12:58 AM

Have some kind of white noise, like a fan, going on in the background, but not music. One of those tapes with the sound of a running stream might be good. Also, don't get frustrated with yourself when random thoughts start creeping in. Make sure in clothing that doesn't bind or annoy you. Remove as many physical distractions as possible - if your glasses slip, take them off, if you tend to adjust jewelry, remove it, if you have a lock of hair that flops in your face, pin it, etc., etc. Pick a spot that isn't drafty, or where some random sound (like the refrig suddenly running) won't distract you. Above all, try to enjoy it.

76f3ead3aa977d876bcf3331d35a36e9

(4620)

on March 03, 2011
at 02:33 AM

Why was this downvoted? Great advice!

4
F6019c693fc981657b1efa602298bc2d

(429)

on March 03, 2011
at 01:10 AM

A great book on meditation is called No Self No Problem by Anam Thubten. It's short, simple and to the point. I've been meditating everyday for the past 3 years... sometimes when i sit there are no thoughts, other times there are millions of thoughts. the key is to just be aware. aware of the thoughts, feelings, sensations. dont stop them or analyze them. just let them come, recognize them, and then they will leave. after time, the mental noise starts to lessen and a natural peace arises. this peace will carry into your everyday activities and make them so much more full of life!

F6019c693fc981657b1efa602298bc2d

(429)

on March 03, 2011
at 01:19 PM

No problem. Enjoy!

A5ead9de259ae72f2165ecb12f4ae764

(440)

on March 03, 2011
at 12:09 PM

Thanks for the book recommendation. I downloaded a sample to my Kindle.

2
7f7069fc4d8d2456cec509d0f9e9bb34

(865)

on March 03, 2011
at 02:11 AM

Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

Eea4c0f072bb5caa74c1fbe6dfab5f46

(942)

on March 03, 2011
at 02:27 AM

this is such a great book!

2
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on March 03, 2011
at 01:35 AM

The more you do it the better you get. I would tell someone to read Robin Sharma's book The Monk who sold his Ferrari......after reading it I became a daily meditator because the book sounded a lot like my own life. And I want to change it. So I did.

3c6b4eed18dc57f746755b698426e7c8

(5147)

on October 03, 2011
at 12:57 AM

Hey doc, I remember you talking about that book on Livin La Vida. I never got the conneciton, then. I still don't get the connection now. Maybe I'll understand after I meditate.

1
D87cdf521528d4ac7cc294274147aa70

on March 15, 2013
at 11:37 PM

Go into it and finish it with no expectations, your first and only intention should be the act of meditation itself. We often bring these idealized wild expectations with us into it whenever we meditate based on what we have heard either from others, read about in religious or self help book, going for some Grand magical mystical experience, really the whole point of meditation is to relax, witness and become aware, ie see clearly . You cannot do that when you walk in with a big bag of expectations and desires for our meditation to go the way we want or think it should. Please do not allow the mind to complicate or intellectualize this simple innate process that your body already knows how to do. I day this because so many people wind up quiting because they get frustrated because they aren't getting what they think they should. Keep at it, don't question it, do it every day and you will reap the many rewards that this ancient wonderful practice brings

1
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on October 02, 2011
at 10:07 AM

Keep it simple, observe your thoughts on a regular basis and you will reap the rewards of meditation. Give yourself 5-20 minutes to just be still and have a looksie at all those thoughts bouncing around in there. Watch them like you would watch a river flow. Even 1 minute of non-judgmental observation can change your perspective and mood in amazing ways.

If you have trouble sitting still, a good way to start is by doing something that keeps your body busy, but leaves your mind free like: knitting, sewing, folding paper cranes, walking slowly, or riding on a stationary bike.

Dogmatic rules give me dry heaves, so trying to read up on meditation actually drove me further away from it. I do like Eckhart Tolle's books though, if only because he isn't associated with any particular religious tradition. I haven't read it yet, but I think "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist" might be a good one to read as well. I saw an interview with the author, and was moved by his story of "searching" and becoming a monk in Tibet. What he said in the interview confirmed some of my suspicions about the focus on meditation styles and traditions distracting from it's potential for personal evolution.

1
Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on October 01, 2011
at 04:52 PM

Anything by Jon Kabat-Zinn, especially Wherever You Go There You Are and Coming to Our Senses. Some religious sources are good, though I think it depends on your bent. When I first started, I really found Lawrence Leshan's How to Meditate helpful as a guide.

Really, the practice is bout bringing into your life what you otherwise lack, in a sense. If you need time to just breathe, then do breath work. If you want more awareness of your surroundings, work on that. If you have a specific goal for your future, you might find visualization work (including all five senses!) to be really motivating. Meditation is about centering yourself, and growing as a person. Naturally, that means it varies between different people.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on October 01, 2011
at 04:55 PM

Jon Kabat-Zinn! His books are so cool.

0
1a95e9f08169cc70bd9d63bcfc600b1d

on March 15, 2013
at 10:47 PM

I actually designed a very simple 7x7 Meditation Challenge you can find at www.youtube.com/mbdemaria - my sensation/somatic focused meditation is particularly suited to a paleo lifestyle - being someone who lives and eats paleo.

0
186b8011a1572ec5b3ac68f5a7a72d2d

on March 05, 2011
at 05:42 PM

In addition to the other great book suggestions, I've got Mindfulness In Plain English lined up to read next on my Kindle (ebook version's free).

I wouldn't normally post about a book I've not yet read, but it came highly recommended by Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann (podcaster and productivity guru respectively), who you may know, so I'm expecting it to be good :-)

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