How to Engage Your Mind without Meditation

5 steps to stop worrying and move toward inner calm

In society today, people constantly strive for worldly perfection, success and happiness. Ultimately, that path leads to a lack of personal fulfillment, as people fall short in those pursuits. People can easily be overcome by failure because they do not understand that success and happiness comes from within.

Buddha teaches that the real cause of human pain and suffering is our lack of skill in using our minds. Buddha also shows us that both happiness and suffering are stored in the mind, and the way to release ourselves from our suffering is through meditation practice. Here are a few simple steps on how to engage your mind through meditation.

Step 1: Choose a focal point

It can be difficult to engage your mind if you have to compete with outside distractions. Many people are able to blot out the outside world if they have something they can focus on, like a candle or a serene picture. Concentrate on that object, and you will find the outside world has faded away.

Step 2: Choose your environment wisely

Don't try to compete with your roommate's new stereo system or your neighbor's barking dog. Find a quiet place to begin your experience in meditation. If you have a less-than-serene environment, you may want to listen to some calming music using a pair of headphones.

Step 3: Get comfortable, but not too comfortable

It's best to meditate in a seated position, either on the floor or in a straight-backed chair. Don't try to force yourself into a lotus position, or any other position that could cause you pain and hamper your efforts. If you are in pain, you will have a tough time engaging your mind rather than focusing on the pain. You want to be comfortable, but not so comfortable that you'd be tempted to doze off while meditating.

Step 4: Breathe deeply

Close your eyes and take some nice deep breaths, inhaling in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Think about every inhalation and every exhalation and feel your body begin to relax. Be mindful of the times you felt relaxed and serene, because this is the place you want to be in, and it helps if you get there and remember how you got there. Did you focus on music or did you chant some type of mantra? Whatever meditation technique you used that restored that inner peace, you are going to want to replicate it each time you practice meditation.

Step 5: Meditate mindfully

In mindful meditation, you remain open to every aspect of the meditation experience, even if that means acknowledging that worried thought or barking dog. You do not focus on just one object, like breathing. In concentration meditation, you give your attention a target to help you stay grounded in the present.

Don’t worry if you are not able to engage your mind yet. This takes a degree of practice and patience to achieve a focused meditative state, and don’t expect too much on your first attempt.

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