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Starting a Meditation Practice

Posted Oct 13 2009 10:06pm

Ten benefits of meditation
1.  Encourages you to be more calm, relaxed, and less stressed out.
2.  Develops your concentration and sharpness of mind.
3.  Gives you insight into your body and mind.
4.  Helps you to understand truths about the world.
5.  Teaches you how to better handle difficulties in your life.
6.  Gives you an inner refuge, intuition, and guidance for making choices in your life.
7. Increases your ability to be present, alive, and to have equanimity in this changing world.
8. Develops wisdom, kindness, and compassion
9. Increases your sense of humor
10. Helps you to wake up

The Basics for Starting a Practice
Choose a place in your house where you won’t be disturbed.
Meditation is pretty low-maintenance. All one needs to be comfortable is a soft meditation cushion (called a zafu), but it is not necessary.  Your bed or couch pillow work fine too.
Frequently, people meditate in the morning after they wake up or in the evening when they come home, or before they go to sleep.  Choose the time of day when you are most likely to be alert and not too busy or distracted.  Starting off you might want to see if you can’t sit for 10 minutes and then eventually see if you can’t sustain 30 minutes.
If you are sitting cross legged on a cushion, for stability you want your hips to be higher than your knees.  You want to feel stable at three spots: your two knees and butt.  If your knees don’t reach the floor, try sitting higher, or put other cushions under your knees.

Feeling the breath
This is a simple concentration and awareness practice that is the foundation of meditation.

Close your eyes and take a few minutes to simply notice what is happening in your body.  What are the first few things you are aware of?  How does your body feel?  Is it heavy, light, uncomfortable, relaxed?  Notice that you are breathing.  Bring your awareness to the place in the body where you notice breathing.
As you become more aware of the breath, you can take your awareness away from the breath and begin to notice sound, and then bodily sensations.  When the mind wanders as it likes to do, just bring it back to the breath.

Meditation is just like practicing anything, the more you practice the better you will get.

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