When most people think of meditation they probably imagine a Buddhist monk sat quietly in his orange robes. And that is pretty much what they do, but there is more going on in their minds than you might imagine and the techniques can be used by me and you to fight off the stress and anxiety of work and general life.
In this article we are going to explore how to meditate like a monk, why they do it and what they actually get from it.
What is a Buddhist Monk?
It might sound like a strange question but to understand why a monk is meditating in the first place, you need to understand what a monk is.
A Buddhist monk is an ordained person who practices religion by living in a monastery and following a strict set of religious concepts. The Buddhist monks devote their entire lives to the practice.
A Buddhist monks goal in life is to achieve Nirvana, or awakening. The monks aim to have a complete understanding of the world and to rid themselves of what they consider bad traits such as dissatisfaction, stress and suffering, craving, aversion, and delusion.
This maybe explains why meditation is such a big part of the monks lives as they try to understand their thoughts and find meaning in things they experience.
How Do Monks Meditate?
Prep for Buddhist meditation is similar to other forms of meditation. The monk will sit comfortably, usually with their legs crossed. The body is positioned so that it is vertically aligned. Comfortable, but not a sleeping position.
Different monks might use different techniques but they all have the same strategy. They are trying to quiet the racing mind by focusing on one thing and by achieving this focus, they live purely in that moment.
Buddhist Meditation for Beginners
Before you start thinking you are going to become an enlightened monk, you need to be realistic about this. Buddhist monks retreat for years at a time to monasteries specifically to meditate. They meditate every waking hour for weeks on end….half an hour a day doesn’t really compare to their commitment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn the techniques and get some of the benefits.
Lets explore how a monk actually meditates. Firstly, it isn’t about trying to wipe the thoughts from your mind. Its about bringing calm to your busy mind by accepting the thoughts that constantly flow by but just observing them coming and going rather than acting on them.
Simple 3 Step Process to Meditate Like a Monk.
In order to meditate you are trying to calm your mind. You are trying to focus on one thing and live only in that moment. Not thinking about the past or the future, just that moment you are in right there and then.
Step 1 – Get comfy
You need to be comfy to meditate. Comfy but upright. The classic monk position is ideal. You don’t want to lie down or you risk falling asleep. Sitting cross legged with your spine straight is a good position as its comfortable but keeps you awake. If your knees are too bad for this position, you could sit against a wall with your legs out in front…Just sit comfortably!
Step 2 – Breath
Once sat comfortably, loosely close your eyes and breath normally, through your nose. Remember, you are trying to focus on one thing. The Buddhist monks practice this for hours and hours but you should start with just a few minutes. Start to focus on your breath. What is it doing? Feel it filling your lungs, stretching your chest, making a noise as it goes through your nose. Feel it flowing out of your body, out of your nose, how does it feel? What noise is it making? Focus only on the breath. Every time you feel your mind wandering to anything else, just try and bring your attention back to the breath….Its extremely difficult to focus entirely on your breath, and nothing else. Don’t try to pull your mind away from the other thoughts, its just to difficult, just try to keep bringing your mind back to your breath.
Step 3 – Practice
Meditating like a monk, focusing on one thing, in that moment, for any length of time is very difficult. As stated above, monks practice meditation for 8 hours a day for weeks and weeks at a time to try and perfect it. You need to practice in order to meditate for any longer than a couple minutes. Just increase your meditation time as you feel you can focus for longer and longer in that moment.
Can You Really Meditate?
In conclusion, yes you can meditate but it takes practice and you need to be realistic about what to expect.
Set aside 20 minutes of quiet time every day to practice and you will start to get better at focusing on the moment.