Basic Closed Eye Meditation

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Find a quiet, clean, safe space for yourself. Make yourself comfortable. For greater comfort, remove your glasses and shoes if the place you are in allows you to. Assume a comfort able position, sitting on a chair, or in any cross-legged position of your choosing on the floor, spine erect but not rigid, hands softly resting on your knees or in your lap. If you are uncomfortable sitting, try lying on your back on the floor, with pillows or rolled-up towels placed under the back of your head or neck and your knees for support. (Try not to lie on a bed when you meditate because you may become so relaxed that you fall asleep!)

Close your eyes. Shrug your shoulders up toward your ears, then down toward your feet to release any tension you may be feeling.

Now bring your awareness to the point just below your nostrils. Focus on your breath. If possible, breathe in and out through your nose rather than your mouth: Breathing through the nose helps to filter, purify, and moisten the breath before it is distributed throughout the body.

On each inhalation, focus your awareness on the cool intake of air into your nostrils.

On each exhalation, feel the warm, moist outflow of breath from your nostrils.

Continue breathing in this manner for several minutes. As you inhale, be aware of the cool intake of air. As you exhale, be aware of the warm outflow of breath. Let the focus of your awareness be the breath. If your attention becomes distracted by other thoughts, just gently dismiss them and bring your awareness back to the breath.

After a few minutes, slowly bring your awareness back to your body. Feel the energy flowing to your fingers and toes. With your eyes still closed, gently stretch your fingers and toes. Rub your hands together and cup the palms lightly over your eyes. Feel the warmth of your hands restoring and energizing you. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes. Keep your hands cupped over your eyes for a moment while you adjust to the light, and then slowly release your hands. Take a moment to notice any changes in how you feel or how you perceive your surroundings.

This basic meditation can help to make you feel more relaxed and centered. It can give you renewed energy and help you to think more clearly. It can be used to start your day, as a stress-buster during a busy day of work, or as a way of clearing mental debris at the end of a workday. The greatest benefits of meditation will come with regular practice. Through meditation, the mind can become more centered and clear. This provides an ideal opportunity for you to access your deepest, inherent wisdom.

As you deepen your practice of meditation, try extending your period of meditation in small increments until gradually you are meditating for a period of 15 minutes. Try meditating early in the morning if you can, after you've gotten up and done your morning ritual, and before starting the workday. As you progress, you might also add a 15-minute period of meditation at the end of the workday to clear your mind of the clutter of thoughts and feelings that have accumulated during the morning and afternoon, and so restore yourself as you prepare for your evening activities. You can experiment with meditating before going to sleep. Be aware, though, that some people get a burst of energy either immediately following or several hours after meditating, so it might interfere with your sleep. Try not to meditate as you're lying in bed trying to fall asleep because you may begin to equate meditation with sleep, and the two are different processes. Early morning and early evening seem to be especially auspicious times for meditation. This is echoed in many diverse religious traditions, which place the time for recitation of sacred prayers at dawn and dusk.

If you would like to try meditating with a mantra or a visual image, you can follow the guidelines for the basic meditation, using a sound, word, or image as your object of concentration. Whatever the method of meditation you practice, allow your breath to be as full, natural, and deep as possible.

You might also practice meditation while walking or going about daily activities, in a practice sometimes referred to as "mindfulness" meditation. Remember: If you focus on your breath as you sit, lie, walk, or move about, it will always bring you back to awareness of the present moment. We cannot breathe in the past; we cannot breathe in the future; we can only breathe in the present. Breath is life itself; it is the gateway to our inner being. If you follow your breath with consciousness, the breath can be your best guide to your deepest self.

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