How to Meditate Effectively

Meditation is the Holy Grail of inspiration. It can bring peace, wisdom, awareness, stress relief, spiritual growth, connection to God’s will, intuition, purpose, improved physical health, pain management, intelligence and even increased metabolism.

There are countless methods of meditation varying from those which aim to achieve complete lack of conscious thought to those which focus on an intellectual problem to solve. Some methods call for complete stillness, others call for vigorous physical activity. In general, they all aim to exercise some constraint on conscious thought. Here is a general guide to meditation:

The General Meditation Guide

  • Bring yourself to an environment where you are free of interruptions or things that may distract you. For some, this will be a place of complete silence and solitude: wilderness, a locked room, a backyard at 5AM. For others, nearby noises can be tuned out as long as they do not require a response.
  • Choose a time when you do not have to watch the clock. If you need to set an alarm to avoid missing a responsibility, do so to help prevent you from watching time. Meditation can be effective even in small increments of time, even while waiting at a traffic light, but it is most effective when you can continue until you feel that it is time to stop.
  • Position yourself comfortably, but maintain good posture. You want to be able to remain relatively motionless without having to think consciously about your body. Good posture will help you avoid pain or cramping that could distract you. It will also keep you from falling asleep and allow your blood to flow freely which will help maintain optimal brain performance. Some people believe that certain positions allow spiritual energy to flow more freely as well.
  • Alternatively, meditation can be achieved while performing repetitive physical action such as walking, running, Thai Chi, etc. In this case, practice and maintain good form and rhythm.
  • Begin by concentrating on something simple and repetitive: a mantra, breathing, footsteps if you are walking or running, naturally repetitive, external sounds, such as crickets, repetitive bird sounds, waves of a large body of water, a particular thought. The goal is to occupy your mind to avoid thoughts that ramble and drift. Focusing on something simple and repetitive keeps your conscious mind busy without the assistance of the subconscious. Alternatively, you may choose to focus on becoming hyper-aware of yourself, your body or your surroundings.
  • Meditate without a goal. To meditate effectively, we should let go of all expectations, focus on the journey and allow the outcome to be determined free of our conscious thought. We may have a long term goal relating to meditation, but it is almost certain that the result, both short term and long term, will be unexpected, with benefits we had not considered.
  • Allow your conscious thoughts to drift away. Do not force them out; instead, acknowledge them and gently let them go. You may experience several thoughts drifting through your mind. Be open to whatever comes, acknowledge it and let it go. Do not focus on any one thought or thread; instead, continue focusing on the simple, repetitive item you started with.

One Experience Transcending Materialism Through Meditation – A Personal Perspective

One method of meditation I have found particularly effective is sitting on the steps of the deck in my back yard at night, repeating a mantra silently in my mind. I allow my thoughts to drift naturally and usually reach a point where I feel as if I am connected to my surroundings. The trees, the loud sounds of frogs, crickets and other various bugs are nearly hypnotic here in the summer. Even the distant sound of traffic seems to meld with the natural sounds.

Sitting at the top of the steps with my back straight and my hands on my knees which are straight out in front of me, I feel as if my consciousness expands beyond my body and that I am everything that I see, hear and breath, and that my body is just a part of me: an avatar. I find myself clearly recognizing that the physical elements that make up my body are the same as those which make up the tree in front of me, the crickets I hear, the air I breath and the stars I see in the sky.

This state of mind leads me to selfless observation of the world around me. Making contributions to the universe becomes more significant than my personal desires, because I recognize that I am connected to the universe. The contributions I make to others, I make to myself. This change in focus brings me more joy than any personal, material desire than I have ever fulfilled.

This method of meditation I frequently use is based on Japa, described by Dr. Wayne Dyer as, “repeating the sound of the name of God as a mantra.” His book, Getting in the Gap: Making Conscious Contact with God Through Meditation, details this method with an accompanying CD.

To continue reading about meditation, see 10 Meditation Tips and Getting in the Gap.

12 responses to “How to Meditate Effectively”

  1. Lianne Crofts Avatar
    Lianne Crofts

    I fall into the meditative state more easily when doing other things (rather than just TRYING to meditate). I’ve found I access the calm, focused place within best by walking in the countryside… NOT by seating myself comfortably and having EXPECTATIONS of meditation. Just allowing it to happen is more natural than trying to force it.

  2. Chela Avatar

    Is this Lianne Rose Crofts, who went to Warwickshire College?

  3. vincent Avatar

    i cant think clearly…. i always tell myself ill do my online school tomorrow…. but then that day, i dont do it…. no meaning of life or anything…

  4. Danny Avatar

    @Lianne Crofts – Thanks for sharing your ideas and suggestions. I have on occasion found myself experiencing what we might call “spontaneous meditation” as you describe. However, I personally haven’t found the same kind of benefit from that as I do from regular meditation through conscious choice, perhaps mostly because it just doesn’t happen that often for me. However, letting go of expectations is a big part of what allows me to meditate successfully. When I have decided to meditate with rigid expectation of outcome, I have often been met with failure. On the other hand, when my expectations are loose, they are usually exceeded.

    @vincent – Thanks for sharing your struggles and I hope that you find some resolution. It sounds like you’re stuck in an energy draining cycle. You feel unmotivated, you fail to complete your plans, you beat yourself up for failing thus weakening yourself even more and feeling even less motivated. Sometimes turning a cycle like that around can start with completing a small task and allowing yourself to feel good about it, rather than focusing on the overwhelming tasks that you may not be completing. But, sometimes when you have fallen so deep that you lose your sense of purpose and all motivation, you may need to seek professional help. You may start by talking to your academic adviser to see if their are any resources that your school can offer you. Often times schools are able to offer free counseling and other professional services to students. A student’s life is tough, and most schools (even online schools) know this and offer resources to students to help cope.

    As a non-professional speaking from my life experiences, my first suggestion would be to make an effort to live in the moment. If you have something that you want to do, do it now and don’t worry about what you will do tomorrow. None of us have control over what we will or won’t do tomorrow or what may change in life. Tomorrow is uncertain. If you have something to do and you have the time to do it right now, do it now, and then celebrate when it’s done.

  5. Lianne Crofts Avatar
    Lianne Crofts

    Reply to Chela – yes, it is I! Not sure who you are though – were you doing A’s with me? x

  6. Chela Avatar

    It’s Sarah – I’ve searched for you over the years on the internet to see if you were ok, and I see that you are! Which is good. x

  7. arvind Avatar

    thanks for the help and can you also help me to take in energy from the nature i.e, spiritual energy please do so

  8. Joshua Bukosky Avatar
    Joshua Bukosky

    I’m just a teenager who wants to expand my knowledge. I’ve been trying to get this to work, or see an outcome, but I still haven’t found results. Does anyone have suggestions?

  9. Charles Moulton Avatar
    Charles Moulton

    I found it interesting in the original post that about meditating while at a stop light. I find myself doing this often and slipping into a meditative state in many other areas one might not expect.

    I am just now trying to integrate malas into my routine at home as an attempt to more easily achieve my “other” state of being with the aid of something that I may always have with me.

    I am open to any other suggestions as well in smoothing out this process as I seek to be in meditative state as often as life will allow.

  10. Prince Avatar

    Thanks Danny you made a stricking contribution in your article that l love so much and that is sayings words under your voice and also saying them out. I love you and your son making mention of him create joy of fatherhood in me. God bless.

  11. Cyrus Avatar

    I want to learn how to meditate but I need help and teach me

  12. arlyn Avatar

    Hello Dan!

    Your ideas about meditation is very informative and helpful. I appreciate reading it. Your ideas there are very realistic and may have happened, is happening and could really happen to everyone. I also salute you of your being a very responsible father to your son. Your son is indeed very lucky for having a great father just like you! Perhaps, your practice of meditation has indeed of great guide to you in raising up and nurturing your son with love, care, and everything. You are indeed so great!