For Someone Who’s Never Meditated Before

One of the things I hear most from people just starting to meditate is that they “have trouble clearing [one’s] mind.”  I’ve talked to people who tell me they feel worse after “trying to meditate” and not getting anything out of it – like they’re defective.  The reality is, a lot of meditative techniques are difficult to practice without the right guidance; doing it yourself means you want to keep it simple and maximize its benefit to you.

It took me a long time to meditate and get what I wanted out of it.  I started off with T’ai Chi and Taoist meditation practices, learned more, and slowly adapted it all to fit myself.  Once I figured out what I was doing and how it was affecting me, the rewards were huge.  I rarely meditate anymore, but my experiences through past meditation have connected me to certain aspects of life I wasn’t connected to before, and I’d hope that more people can achieve what I have.

First things first: learn about diaphragmatic breathing.  This breathing technique is crucial; it is the only way you should be breathing when you meditate.  If there are moments when you can/must only focus on a single thing while meditating, focus on your breathing.

If you’re all set on breathing right, you can move on to a short-cut set-up.  You’re going to need a candle, a dark room, somewhere comfortable to sit, and an hour of silence.

Sit and light the candle – place it at eye-level.

Breathe correctly.

Look at the flame.

Let your mind wander.

You can think about anything you want.  The key to “clearing your mind” isn’t in what you think about, but how you think about it.  The trick is to not hold on to any thought while, at the same time, encouraging your brain to think rapidly.

Still breathing.

Looking at the flame.

Focus on the base of the flame, where the fire meets the wick.

Let your brain relax and just wonder about whatever it wants, without you trying to hold on to the thoughts – don’t try to solve your problems or desire to think more about any particular thing.

You’re clearing your mind, and that’s some serious square-footage; if you want to sweep up, you can’t get stuck in any place for too long.

Doing these three things (breathing, staring, thinking) correctly will lead to a variety of reactions.  If done correctly, you’ll “zone-out” to the point of mild internal hallucination, almost like a waking dream state.  Mentally, if you can really let your mind think about anything it wants and not hold back, you’ll find your mind “cleared” through having gone through everything you have to think about, which means your brain can now really play around.  Be prepared for anything from general relaxation to feelings that are like a mixture of numbness, warmth, mild electrical current, and/or the tingly “[body part] is asleep” feeling.

Don’t get discouraged if these things don’t happen.  It takes time to figure out exactly how to make it work for you.  But it will be beneficial, no matter what level you take it to.  The more you do it, the more interesting it gets.  Good luck.

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