Meditation Tips No. 1: Time & Habits
When meditation was imported into the West, the myth of the 20 minute meditation was borne. This short amount of time made the task of selling meditation easier, and it formed a part of the packaging which encouraged Western people to try it.

In fact, there is no prescribed set-in-stone duration for meditation, just the simple common sense view that like anything else, the more you practice the greater the benefits will be. As a rule of thumb, anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour per meditation session, will be very beneficial to your physical and mental health. Sitting in meditation for longer than an hour is normally only done in special retreats, as it can damage the joints of the body by doing so repeatedly.

Initially the key objective, is to form the habit of meditating on a daily basis. That way the benefits can accrue regularly through time, and you will carry on meditating whether you happen feel like it or not, on any given day.

By committing to a daily meditation practice, it will become like brushing your teeth, or going to sleep; you don't think about it anymore - you just do it. This may well take some mental effort for the first few months, until your daily meditation habit is established.

The best time of day for meditation is very much up to you and your life-style. Some people find early in a morning ideal while the day is fresh and their minds are relatively quiet. For others, the end of the day suits them most and it relaxes them for a good night's sleep. If you do two meditation sessions per day, then a morning and an evening time session would be ideal.

Meditation Tips No. 2: Thoughts
Some meditation methods give the impression that one of the purposes of meditation is to stop thinking. And this approach can lead some people who try meditation to feel as if they have failed, because there is always one (or often several dozen) more thoughts appearing in their mind, when they do their meditation practice.

The thing to understand is that your mind is where your thoughts manifest themselves, and it's perfectly normal to find them there.

The real aim of meditation, as far as thoughts are concerned, is to notice their arising and passing away without getting caught up in their flow. And through this observing process, you will become aware that you, the Observer, are not your thoughts. And that your thoughts turn out to be as transitory as passing clouds on a windy day.

If you do find yourself getting caught up in a stream of thoughts, just notice this has happened, and then come back to your object of meditation.

If you were to take the trouble to count the number of thoughts you have in a week, and I'm not suggesting you do, it would probably come to several thousand.

So here you are, sitting in meditation minding your own business, when thought 7,209 of this week appears. What do you do? Run after it like you are a puppy following anything that moves, like it's the most important, amazing thought that you have had this year? Like these thoughts control you?

No. You observe each thought as it arises and passes away, as you would a plane in the sky, or the sound of a passing car. You don't mentally run after a plane or a car, and you don't mentally run after your thoughts.

And, in time, in dawns on you. Thoughts are just an endless stream transient inner impressions, largely based on what happened today, at work, or what I saw on the TV, or what a friend said etc.

And with daily meditation practice, your thoughts will begin to quieten down, from a lack of your attention and your lack of interest in them. Then you can experience great inner peace and tranquility.

A peace and tranquility which is always there, only without meditation, it is obscured by the activities of your thinking machine.

Meditation Tips No. 3: Conscious Experience
Meditation, contemplation and self-reflection, whatever you chose to call it, is a very natural activity for consciously aware beings such as ourselves. And meditation techniques can be very straightforward for us to learn and to apply.

However, there are a few common difficulties we can encounter in our practice of meditation.

1. The first of these is fear of what might happen, or could happen to you. Or, perhaps, the meditation process does begin to transform you and you are now afraid of losing friends because you've started change your interests and your priorities.

2. Another common difficulty, are your expectations of what you should be experiencing. Maybe you have read stories of yogis and their amazing mental feats. Or perhaps you have heard accounts of altered states of consciousness being achieved through meditation, and you expect to achieve these easily.

3. Or it could be that you over analyse your experiences and you become over judgmental of how you are doing, compared to some imagined ideal person you have read about in a book.

All of these difficulties are false-hoods that you are laying on yourself, which are making your meditation way more difficult and challenging than it needs to be.

The 'knack' to meditation, if there is such a thing, is to lay to one-side your fears, expectations, judgments and analysis, and to simply enjoy the meditative experience. It is what it is, on any given day.

In some ways, that is what mediation is all about, the conscious experience of being alive in the moment. And within that simple experience, is the elegant beauty of your unfolding life.

© David R. Durham

Author's Bio: 

I am a spiritual healer with a passion for spirituality within the rich diversity of our human experience.