Learning how to meditate may be just the coping mechanism you need in a stress-filled life without having to resort to prescription medications or destructive practices, such as drinking or over-eating. Meditation doesn’t involve special workout wear, a specific place or time; it just involves your active participation in a mindful practice that can offer a myriad of benefits, including better mental focus and clarity, decreased heart rate and blood pressure, and spiritual growth.
Those who practice Buddhism learn how to meditate to attain enlightenment or nirvana. The first step in this path to enlightenment, called Lamrin, involves breathing meditations, which require the student to sit in a quiet place, free from distractions. You don’t have to sit cross-legged like a Buddhist monk; any position that is most comfortable for you is appropriate, but you do need to keep your back straight so that the mind remains alert.
Begin by closing your eyes halfway then focus on your breathing. Notice how your breathing comes naturally through your nostrils and there is no need to control it. It just is. At this point, this should be your only object of focus. However, you will find that a whole bunch of intrusive thoughts start to shift your focus from your breathing; Buddhism advocates the letting go of all of these distractions so you should be attending to your breathing alone and not continuing along the path of these other ideas. Clearing the mind is the essential part of how to meditate.
Once you’ve cleared away the intruders, your mind will become serene and still. Stay with this feeling for 15 minutes or so before gradually bringing your focus back to the everyday world. If you continue this practice consistently, it will be easier to clear the mind and slip into this state, which will carry over into your day-to-day life and allow you to better deal with the stressors.
Buddhism believes in “loving kindness” to all; and once you learn how to clear away the outward distracting thoughts, you can learn how to meditate on this spiritual tenet. Begin your meditation by contemplating how we owe our existence to loving kindness at birth and through childhood. As adults, we express this gratitude through kindness to others and realize how interconnected we all are. Learning how to meditate allows us to access this life force and dedicate it to others in our everyday life.