As long as the body is relaxed and comfortable there is no particular advantage to any one position, except that
there may be a tendency to fall asleep, in which case a more 'alert' posture could be selected. To sit in a straight backed
chair suits most people.
The first step is to find out how you breath normally. How fast is your breathing? (Count the number of breaths in one minute.) What parts of the lungs are filled and which muscles are used?. How fast is your out breath in relation to your in breath?
By experimentation you may ascertain that it is possible to bring air into your lungs using three different sets of muscles: the abdominal, the lower chest and the upper chest. Take a deep breath, filling the lungs in three stages. Start by pushing out with the abdominal muscles and work your way up. Most people habitually only use one or two of these three lung areas, it's well worth finding out which you use and what it feels like to use the rest.
In posture, and with your eyes closed, practise breathing fully and slowly, focusing your attention on the point at which the air enters and leaves your body, aim for a rate of five breaths per minute, or slower, but on no account make the breathing slow enough to give you discomfort. Don't worry if you can't comfortably keep down to five breaths per minute, as long as your breathing is a bit deeper and slower than normal then you should feel the benefits. Continue this practice for from five to twenty minutes, more if you require, or perhaps less if you are using it as a preliminary to another technique.
Rate of breathing is a sign of the mental state of a person, rapid breathing for anxiety, (assuming there hasn't been physical exertion), and slow breathing for relaxation. By taking conscious control of the breathing rate it is possible to reduce anxiety and promote a relaxed attitude. By breathing fully and efficiently we promote healthy lungs and a healthy body.
Eventually your breathing should become full, slow and relaxed. Good breathing can be practiced at any time, while walking for instance, but allow your breathing to speed up naturally when you exert yourself physically.
Meditation can only be of benefit if you actually do it, so it is best to make a point of meditating regularly every
day, setting aside a special time if necessary. Nobody is too busy to meditate, even if your day is completely full all you
need to do is take 20 minutes less sleep and use that time for meditation, the sleep that you do have will then be more
Technique No. 2
For this technique you need a blue spot on a white background, the spot should be about 3or4 cm in diameter and central on a backing of at least 15cm square.
The gaze at the blue spot, fixedly but without straining, and as un-blinking as possible without discomfort. As your gaze shifts involuntarily, you may see a yellow dot on the white background, next to the blue, this is an afterimage produced by your retina and is a visible sign that you are currently unable to control your gaze. No matter, simply re-focus on the blue spot. With improvement this retinal image will be reduced to a flickering halo of yellow around the blue spot.
To start with a period of five minutes will be sufficient at this technique, building up gradually to twenty minutes. On no account should you continue if you experience any physical discomfort, if you want to keep meditating change to a different technique.
A good idea might be to fix the spot on the ceiling above your bed, so that it can be observed while laying flat on your back (arms straight by your side). This posture is good for relaxing, but with other (eyes closed) techniques there is a danger of falling asleep.
This technique gives an appreciation of the lack of control we have over our own bodies, and it can only be mastered by a combination of concentration and relaxation. The ability to do well at this technique, where the degree of success is apparent to the meditator in an unambiguous form, is an excellent preparation for later techniques.
Sometimes people experience various types of visions while doing meditation techniques, this can range from hearing voices or seeing bright lights to feelings of being "totally at one with the universe".
Many people consider this to be the main purpose of meditation, and may believe that they are being contacted by some sort of spiritual beings. On the other hand these visions could be seen as a distraction which is produced by the mind of the meditator, the mind often being reluctant to look at itself.
Particularly if you try technique no.2 you will see some odd looking visual effects. For instance it may look as if
the room you are in has turned flat and grey. This is nothing to worry about, it's just a visual effect which happens
when you stare at a stationary object. The way your eye and brain interprets images is very efficient as long as everything
is moving around in your visual field, not so when holding your gaze still on a stationary tableaux. To find out more about this you can check up on 'retinal afterimage'.
Focus your attention on the centre of your forehead, and keep it there. Suddenly you realise that your attention has wandered, perhaps your mind is running over trivial thoughts without your direction. Return your attention to the centre of your forehead. However many times your attention wanders all you have to do is bring it back under control.
While you are doing this check for muscular tension in your face. The eyebrows, the eyes and around them, the mouth, the cheeks, the jaw the tongue and so on. Any tension should be allowed to relax, and if necessary you should deliberately tense that muscle a bit more so that you can get the feel of relaxing it. These physical tensions are generally indicative of an un-relaxed mental state, and can often be present without us being aware of them.
This technique is similar to No.2, except that it is the mind, rather than the eye that is focused and held steady. It gives an awareness of the lack of control we have over our own minds, we see that our thoughts run riot, and it is only by looking at ourselves as we really are, rather than how we like to see ourselves, that we can master the technique.
With practice it may at first seem that you are getting worse at this technique, this being because you were originally not so aware that the mind was wandering. As you progress you will notice ever more subtle distractions, this being a sign of success.
Spend from five to twenty minutes on this technique, or longer if you feel so inclined.
Within one meditation session you may wish to combine these techniques, perhaps starting with No.1 before going
on to another or others. There should be no need to go from a later (higher number) technique to an earlier one except
that you may find a technique too taxing, and then you could return to an earlier one rather than cut short the meditation.
Assume posture, close eyes.
This technique has no technique, simply be aware. Aware of your mind, aware of your body and aware of your surroundings. Meditation is not a technique, it is a state of mind, a "meditation technique" makes it more likely that meditation will occur, but it holds no guarantee. Through the first three techniques you can familiarise yourself with the meditative state, to recognise it and eventually to achieve it at will, which is this, the fourth technique.
Don't be discouraged if this seems difficult or incomprehensible, diligent practice of techniques one to three will bring results. It's probably worth going back to them once in a while anyway, in order check yourself.
It may help to do an occasional longer meditation, of an hours duration.