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The art of meditation is as old as the mountains and as profound as the deepest ocean. Every religion and every spiritual practice preaches meditation in some form or the other. It may be through chanting the scared 'Om' or praying five times a day, such as the whole act of participating in 'namaaz'. Meditation is the act of being one with your body with your every breathing moment.
Meditation is an exercise, which allows your mind to be free of scattered thoughts. A free mind guides the practitioner to his inner peace and ultimate realization of bliss. Just as our body requires physical activity to be fit, meditation is a mental activity for the mind to function in tandem with the body. It is more than attaining a physical posture, closing the eyes, and taking breath control.
Find a Place
Find a place that is calm, quiet, and totally noiseless. Sit down with your legs crossed and get familiar with the ambiance. Rest your hands on your lap and try to relax. Get comfortable in the position. Use a chair if you can't sit in the cross-legged position for long. It's not necessary to attain a lotus position for meditation, in the beginning. It's more important to focus on the art and its act.
Breath Control
Begin with closing your eyes gently and take a few slow, pronounced deep breaths. Inhale from your nose and exhale from your mouth, for the first 10 breaths. Then inhale and exhale from your nose. Feel the cool breath on your upper lip and feel and warm breath leaving your body. Never force breathing, as it will keep disturbing your natural tempo. The initial breathing will seem shallow. As time progresses, you will automatically allow more air to fill your lungs, making your breaths deeper and deeper. Take long slow breath, when you reach this point and continue breathing deeply.
Being There
If you are a first timer, your mind will wander different planes. Your thoughts will distract your every breathing moment, and your mind will make you think of everything you should not. Don't be discouraged. It happens to everyone and probably happened to Buddha too. The point here, is to still push yourself to retain the position for at least 15 minutes. Bring your mind back on track, every time it tries to scoot off somewhere. Within a week of this drill, you will feel much more calmer, and you will be able to focus better. Meditation will eventually give you the power to hold your mind by a tight leash. It's an exhilarating boon, trust me on this one!
Grand Finale
At the end of your 15 minute meditation session, get mentally ready to open your eyes. Become aware of your position and all your other body parts. Rub your palms together and cover your face. Gently open your eyes while your hands are still covering your face. Slowly remove your hands from face, so that the light around doesn't startle you. Stretch your hands upwards and bend forward to touch your forehead to the ground. Well done!! This is exactly how meditation is done.
By following the aforementioned guidelines, you will be able to meditate for 30 odd minutes by the end of first month. If you can't meditate for a stretch of 15 minutes in the beginning, sit only for 5 minutes. Do not force yourself to do any part of this act. Allow it to come as naturally as possible. Finally here's a quote by Buddha, the icon of this art to motivate you to do better and attain your inner peace, peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.