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Perhaps in prayer you are asking for direction in a particular matter, or you would like some help with some problems You probably would like an answer to these problems. Meditation is a tool suited to obtaining communication from the divine to yourself.
While prayer can be defined as "talking to God," meditation can be defined as "listening to God." I am going to discuss what meditation is, what it is not, and some simple ways to meditate.
You may have any number of preconceived notions concerning meditation. You may associate it with eastern mysticism. While eastern religions use overt meditation far more than western religions, there is no fundamental need to accept any sort of eastern religion, or in fact any particular religion, in order to meditate. Meditation is very simple to do, at very little necessary cost. It does not conflict with any other faith you may follow. Similarly, you may associate meditation with a need to perform yoga, fast, accept certain dietary restrictions, burn candles and incense, and other such things. While you may do or not do any of these things as you wish, these subjects lie outside the scope of this writing. Do them or not, as you prefer and think it best. You may even associate meditation with cult activities. Meditation is certainly not a cult; in fact, the way I suggest doing it leads itself away from harmful cult activities.
Much mystery has become associated with meditation, or with meditating "properly." While some may work better in some respects than others, I maintain that there is no "wrong" way to meditate. Like prayer, the most important thing involved is sincerely making the attempt.
The main thing you need to do to attempt meditation is to be comfortable. I suggest that you loosen any tight clothing before beginning. Remove your shoes, loosen your belt, take your hair down, remove your glasses. Do everything you can to make yourself more comfortable, much as you would if you were going to go to sleep for the night. A sweatsuit, robe or loose gown is desirable clothing to be wearing; your clothing must not be tight or uncomfortable. Likewise, it should be sufficiently warm or cool to keep your temperature comfortable. You may have preconceived notions of what you need to do in order to meditate. Those are fine to use, especially to get yourself started. If you feel that you need to be playing relaxing music, to have the room darkened and a candle burning, or incense burning, please do that.
While you do not need to assume any particular posture, I suggest that sitting cross-legged works well for many people. You may sit in a chair, stand, or even lay down. It is really not important, especially in the beginning. Breathe deeply and slowly. As you exhale, let all of the stresses and worries you are holding go out with your breath. Close your eyes, then begin consciously relaxing body parts. Begin by giving your feet the order to relax, then the ankles, and continue progressing upward, giving each body part the suggestion to relax until you have given the muscles in your face and head to relax. If visualizing colors helps you, you may choose to visualize the color blue, or your favorite color if you find that to be more relaxing to you. Keep breathing, slowly and deeply throughout this. When you relax your jaw, you may find that your mouth has opened slightly. Continue breathing through your nose and mouth now, as the air comfortably flows. Do not force anything, just relax and feel yourself just being who you are. By now, you may find yourself in a very relaxed, very content, very blissful state. This is meditation. Remain in this state as long as you wish. If you need to be somewhere at a particular time, I suggest that you use a kitchen timer or clock radio tuned to a station playing soft music to limit the time on this. However, I usually find it to be better to allow myself to remain in this state as long as I feel I need it, if I can.
If you have gone through, and have achieved a relaxed peaceful state, congratulations. You have just done a meditation! I suggest repeating this process at least once per day; twice is better, morning and evening. If it has not, please look at what went wrong. Did you hold on to some tension? Do you feel you need it? If you do, please let it go, at least for this time. You may pick it back up if you want after you are done if you wish. Similarly, did you quit thinking and worrying? Those things will be there to think and worry about after you are done meditating. Just let them go for now, and make an agreement with yourself to pick them back up later. Think of this as a short "mini vacation" that you may go on as often as you wish. If you are having trouble with the idea of a divine power and are resisting for that reason, please note that there is no mention of any divinity in this particular meditation. You can just trust your own brainwaves to be taking you into this state. If you prefer, you may attribute this to your creator. It is not really important at this point.
In the beginning, some people prefer guided meditations. I do not suggest them, as they will pull you into someone else's notions of relaxing images and archetypes. If you feel you need one, you may tape the above with any images that are useful to you.
Good luck and happy relaxing!
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