The term meditation is most often applied to any state of prolonged focus or reflection upon a word, subject or object. There are many variations of meditation. Each calls for the repetitive use of a word or a thought (a mantra).
Dr Patricia Carrington (1978) developed Clinically Standardized Meditation (CSM). It was created by modifying a classical form of mantra meditation so that it became a relaxation technique suitable for Western use.
1. Plan your meditation sessions so that you will not be meditating within an hour after eating a meal, and avoid stimulants such as coffee and tea for one hour beforehand.
2. Choose a relatively quiet room to meditate in where you can be alone, and silence the telephone. Meditation should be undertaken in a serious manner with few distractions. Explain to others that you are not to be interrupted.
3. Meditate before a green plant, flowers, or some other natural object where it is pleasant to rest your eyes.
4. Face away from any direct source of light. The room need not be dark, but subdued lighting is preferable.
5. Sit on a chair or on the floor, whichever your prefer, in an easy, comfortable position. It will help you relax if you remove your shoes and loosen all tight clothing before commencing to meditate.
6. If during meditation you find yourself uncomfortable, you can always change your position slightly, stretch or yawn, or scratch an itch. The point in this type of meditation is to be comfortable.
7. If, despite all precautions, you are interrupted during the meditation, play for time. Try not to jump up out of meditation suddenly any more than you would jump up from a deep sleep if you could avoid it. Move slowly, yawn, stretch – and then get up. If feasible, return to your meditation after the interruption to finish off the remainder of your meditation time.
8. The best way to time your meditation is by occasionally looking at your clock or watch through half-closed eyes, squinting so as not to alert yourself.
9. After finishing meditation, remain seated for at least two minutes with your eyes closed. During this time allow your mind to return to everyday thoughts. You may want to rub your hands together gently and run them lightly over your cheeks as though in a face-washing motion, or to stretch. Then rise in a leisurely manner.
Whenever thoughts enter your mind (as they will often do, because that is part of the meditative process) simply treat these thoughts as you might clouds drifting across the sky on a summer’s day. You don’t try to push the clouds away. You don’t hold onto them. You simply watch them come and go. When you realize that your mind is drifting away and is caught up in thoughts, gently come back to your object of focus. No forcing – you do this pleasantly, the way you would come home again to greet a good friend. The extraneous thoughts that you had are a natural and useful part of the meditative process.
Keep in mind that you are not to try to make anything ‘happen’ during meditation. Trust the meditation to ‘know’ best. Some people have compared these forms of meditation to the experience of being in a rowboat without oars, gently drifting on a quiet stream. Let the stream take you where it will.
Select one of the mantras suggested in the list below or substitute a word of our own choosing which has a pleasant ringing sound. If you decide to create your own mantra, be sure to avoid using any word that is emotionally ‘loaded.’ No names of people, no words that bring too intense or exciting an image. The word should ring through your mind and give you a feeling of serenity. If it has a touch of unfamiliarity or mystery to it, this can help remove you from everyday thoughts and concerns.
You could also search online for a List of Transcendental Meditation Mantras or pay for a course to get one.
Having selected your mantra, sit down comfortably. With eyes open and resting upon some pleasant object such as a plant, say the mantra out loud to yourself, repeating it slowly and rhythmically. Enjoy saying your mantra. Experiment with the sound. Play with it. Let it rock you gently with its rhythm. As you repeat it, say it softer and softer, until finally you let it become almost a whisper.
Now stop saying the mantra out loud, close your eyes, and simply listen to the mantra in your mind. Think it, but do not say it. Let your facial muscles relax, do not pronounce the word, just quietly ‘hear’ the mantra, as for example, ‘Ah-nam’.… ‘Ah-nam’…. ‘Ah-nam’.… ‘Ah-nam’….
That is all there is to meditating – just sitting peacefully, hearing the mantra in your mind, allowing it to change any way it wants – to get louder or softer – to disappear or return – to stretch out or speed up…. Meditation is like drifting on a stream in a boat without oars – because you need no oars – you are not going anywhere.
Continue meditating for twenty minutes. When the time is up, sit quietly without meditating for at least two or three minutes more (or longer if you wish) then follow the instructions in Point 9 for coming out of meditation.
How many times a day?
Ideally twice — 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon / early evening + half a minute to start and at least 2 minutes to finish each session.
In practice we might sometimes only manage to fit one session into our day and occasionally we might only have time for 10 minutes of meditation.
However 10 minutes = 15 minutes benefit, 20 minutes = 40 minutes benefit.