Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Meditation
Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Meditation
by Swami Jnaneshvara
Below are a few simple,
straightforward points about how to get started in beginning meditation.
With practice and time, the rest of the process can build upon this
basic practice. There is a challenge in describing beginning
meditation. At one extreme of explaining beginning meditation it is possible that nothing is
said about the depth of meditation, and one can stay stuck at the
surface-most levels for years or decades. At the other extreme of
describing beginning meditation it can
sound so complicated that meditation seems impossible. Throughout this
website there are many explanations that expand on the entire process of
meditation. However, it all rests on the foundation of beginning
meditation, the principles of which also apply to the later, more
Stretch the body:
It's very useful to do a few stretches before sitting for
meditation. It need not be a lengthy process, but can be longer if
you wish. Even a few minutes or literally a few seconds can help.
The main emphasis is on the spine and neck, bending sideways,
forward and backward, and twisting both left and right. Even if you
don't do a series of stretches, a few simple stretches while sitting
on your meditation seat is helpful.
If you are sitting straight the weight of the body is evenly
distributed. Gravity holds the body in place without leaning or
falling to the left or right, or to the front or back. This
amazingly simple principle is a great aid to meditation. Sitting
"straight" means having a natural curve in the spine. It
can take some time to develop a good sitting posture. Use the
posture that is comfortable for you, such as sitting on a chair if
sitting on the floor does not feel right.
Reflect on your day
or life: For the first couple minutes intentionally give your
mind the time to chatter about the activities you've been doing in
daily life. This is not to get involved in a worry session, but
giving the mind time to run on its own will help it to naturally
settle down. It's also nice to take a minute to quietly reflect on
your spiritual purpose of life, however you might personally think
Be aware of the
Body: Bring your attention to your body. Explore the body as if
you are really curious about it. Do it with your eyes closed, using
your inner attention. Mostly this involves the cognitive sense of
touch, as you "feel" your body. Go through all of the parts: head,
arms, trunk and legs. There are many systematic methods you can
learn, but the important thing is to actually explore, as if you are
an interior researcher. There's no need to say words like "relax,
relax," as the exploration itself will naturally relax the body. If
this feels really comfortable to you, your whole meditation time can
focus on this body awareness. Some people like to do this style for
months or years even though it is a beginning meditation. While it
misses the greater depth of meditation, it can be extremely useful
for stress reduction, as you repeatedly bring your attention back to
the body when the mind wanders. If it feels comfortable, and if you
want, go on to breath meditation after several minutes with the
Be aware of the
Breath: Breath awareness is one of the finest focal points for
beginning meditation. Interestingly, breath awareness can also be an
extremely subtle, advanced meditation if attention is allowed to
deepen into and through the subtle energies at the root of breath.
With beginning meditation, it is easiest to just feel the air flow
at the nostrils. This is the cognitive sense of touch, with which
you feel the air come in, and then feel it go out. It's useful to
also eliminate and jerkiness or irregularities, allowing the breath
to be smooth. So too, it is useful to allow the breath to be
comfortably slow, though not trying too hard at this. Above all,
gently eliminate any pause in the transitions between breaths,
allowing one to gently flow into the next. It's like a little game
of seeing just how smooth and continuous you can make it flow. In
beginning meditation, we might say that having different techniques
of breathing is most important, but the actual techniques rest on
the solid foundation of awareness. Therefore, it is breath awareness
itself that is the most important part of beginning meditation. The
rest will come in time.
Mind: Breath awareness alone can be a quite sufficient focal
point for the mind. Please know that there is a sort of debate going
on between approaches to meditation. Some say you should concentrate
the mind, and others say you should not do that, allowing the mind
to just wander wherever it wants. For most people, a blending of
these two approaches is most useful. At first, in beginning
meditation, you focus on the body, as described above. Then comes
concentration on the breath, such as breath awareness at the
nostrils. If you feel comfortable with it, you can go on to hold
attention in the space between the breasts, the heart chakra, or the
space between the eyebrows, the ajna chakra. There are many choices
one has about the object of concentration, but the principle is the
same. Once again, one of the most straightforward "objects" of
meditation is the breath. The Soham Mantra is very useful in
practicing breath awareness, if that feels comfortable to you. (Soham
Witness the flow of
thoughts: While the mind is focused, you can also let the
thoughts in the mind field flow without interruption. It's somewhat
like driving a car, where your eyes are on the road, but you
awareness is taking in all of the other activities in your periphery
vision. We all do this often in our daily lives in this and many
other ways. Even in beginning meditation one can cultivate this
stance of gently focusing the mind while witnessing the other
thoughts flow in the mind. They flow, but are not distracting or
disturbing. This can seem quite difficult, but it really is not. As
long as we remember the simplicity, like driving a car and seeing
the periphery, we can stay focused and still witness the inner
process of mind. Starting this practice even in beginning meditation
goes a long way in setting the stage for advanced meditation.
Remember to keep the mind focused in that one location or space, one
that one object, such as breath, allowing those other thoughts to do
as they wish, while you remain a neutral witness.
Reverse the process
to end: When meditation is finished, it is extremely useful to
end the meditation by reversing the process, coming "out" the same
way you came "in." This may take a minute or less. So, for example,
if you were meditating in the heart center, you briefly come back to
the breath at the nostrils. Then you come back to the whole of the
body. Then you gently open your eyes. Then you slowly move your body
once again, being mindful to bring the experience of meditation
outward with you.
SOME OTHER USEFUL POINTS
FOR BEGINNING MEDITATION:
Same Time and Place:
Consistency is very useful to forming a good meditation habit.
People often complain of not having "discipline." If meditation is a
habit, then no discipline is needed. We go to work, eat meals, and
do many other things regularly for the simple reason that we have
formed the habit. Understanding that principle is extremely useful
in beginning meditation. It's not really so hard to do.
One minute will
help: This is not to try to create some "one minute meditation"
method, but far more important than the duration of meditation is
that fact that you give yourself a moment just for yourself, for
stillness and quiet. There are surely times where you feel "I don't
have time," but there is always time to sit for a minute, close the
eyes, and remember. It is not duration that develops meditation as a
habit, but frequency, and the ideal frequency is every day, even
from very in beginning meditation.
Create a comfortable space in your home for meditation. It may be a
separate room used only for meditation or a quiet space in a less
busy room of the house. Make it a simple place or seat, but allow
yourself to customize it, to make it your own private sanctuary.
While meditation is an inner process, you may enjoy having close at
hand certain objects that help you feel comfortable. All of
life will come to revolve around that one special place.
One seat: Use
only one cushion, blanket or chair, using the same one each time. Allow this
seat itself to become a "home
base" of sorts. Your mind will come to know it as a special place to
visit, as you carry this memory with you during the day. It gives a
focal point to the 24 hours in the day. Use that cushion or chair
only for the purpose of meditation if possible. For example, if it's
a chair in a bedroom don't use it as a storage place. That forms a special relationship
in the mind that is useful for developing a good beginning meditation habit.
Some people like to have a thin cloth put on top of the seat so that
this cloth can be taken along when going to some other location,
such as when traveling far from home.
great to bathe before meditation, and to empty the bowels and
bladder. Even a splash of water on the face or washing your face
with a wash cloth can feel good.
Time after food:
Allow some time to pass after eating before meditation. Ideally this
should be several hours. However, with beginning meditation people
often find that life is not so organized yet. We need to be
realistic about meditation. If you feel like sitting quietly after a
meal, there's no need to walk around waiting for time to pass. Just
go ahead and sit quietly for a few minutes.
Keep it simple:
With beginning meditation one of the most important points is to
keep it simple. Even reading through the suggestions in this article
can start to make it sound complicated, which it is not. If we make a simple habit of showing up at the same
time and place each day, that habit will allow the practices to
expand over time.
May your meditations bring you peace,
happiness and bliss....
This site is devoted to
presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of
the Tradition of the Himalayan masters
in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising
quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest
Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the
center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is
one and the same with the Absolute Reality.
This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga
Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the
intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which
complement one another like fingers on a hand.
We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti
Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha,
and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer
finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final
stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the