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HOW TO MEDITATE

Charles Day*
www.desmoinesmeditation.com

Meditation helps you think, speak, and act more effectively and joyfully by training the
mind to focus and to let go of unwanted and unnecessary thoughts, feelings, and body
sensations. It is used to relax, reduce stress, manage pain, and promote personal and
spiritual growth. Scientific research consistently shows it benefits (1) physical and
psychological health, (2) relationships with family and others, (3) job performance and
satisfaction, (4) academic grades and intelligence scores, (5) artistic, creative, and
athletic skills, and (6) self-confidence, happiness, and peace. It also benefits but is not
a substitute for therapy. The technique of observing the breath is used in all religions.

 Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor, and keep your head, neck, and back straight
to assist in body relaxation, ease of breathing, and staying alert while relaxed.
 Close your eyes and focus your attention on the sensations of breath experienced
in and around the rim of your nose or, if you prefer, in the rising and falling of the
abdomen or chest. Breathe naturally and observe the changing sensations of each
in-breath and each out-breath in your chosen area for as long as possible.
 When your attention wanders to sounds, thoughts, feelings, images, or other body
sensations, gently let go of them and return your attention to your breathing.
 When the time you allow for meditation has passed, stop focusing on the breath and
wait thirty seconds or more before slowly opening your eyes and returning to ordinary
activity. Open your eyes slightly to check the time or use a quiet timer or alarm.
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 Meditate for 15, 20, or up to 60 minutes once or twice daily, or for just a few minutes
to relax when sick, tired, or stressed. Establishing a regular practice may take time.
 Decide how long each meditation will be before beginning it to keep the mind
from thinking about time or reacting to what comes up by stopping the meditation.
 If feeling the actual physical sensations of breath is difficult, just be aware of
breathing in and breathing out while keeping the attention on the chosen area.
 Sounds, thoughts, feelings, drowsiness, restlessness, and doubts about the value of
meditation are not problems. Just let go of them and return to the breath. Just as the
heart beats, the mind thinks, and so it wanders, at times often or for long periods.
It’s OK if thoughts float like clouds in the background if the focus stays on the breath.
 Other effective meditations use as a focus mentally repeating words (e.g., “relaxing,”
“letting go” or sacred words), prayer, counting breaths, body sensations, imagery,
sounds, music, chanting, slow specific movements (e.g., Tai Chi or Qi Gong), etc.
 Simply observing and returning to the breath, while sitting comfortably, minimizes
physical and mental activity and trains the mind to focus and to let go of negative and
distracting thoughts, feelings, and sensations. It is perhaps the oldest, most popular
meditation used today to promote psychological and spiritual growth and happiness.
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*Contact Charlie Day at (515) 255-8398, www.desmoinesmeditation.com or
charlesday1@mchsi.com to discuss meditation, Buddhism, sitting groups, retreats, or
meditation experiences. 97r10-8