What is Meditation?
Many who have never tried to meditate mistakenly think that meditation is about sitting quietly with your legs crossed thinking about nothing while you go into some kind of trance visiting the spirits of your sub conscience. This is wrong. Meditation is the practice of focusing on a simple thing or thought and then when the mind drifts away (which it will always do) you return to whatever you had decided to focus on. Actually meditation just means "to focus" and comes from Greek. It's not so important what you focus on as long as it’s a fairly simple thing like you breath, a sound or a sensation in the body. Also, there is nothing religious about it and can be practiced regardless of your religious beliefs.
An example of a meditation
Meditating on the breath could be described like this: First you focus on your breath, right around your nostrils and notice how the air passes back and forth. Once you have focused on this you will start getting all kinds of thoughts in your head. For example, it may be that your round nostrils reminds you of a round ball, and then you come to think about the last time you played tennis, then you realize it’s a long time ago since you played tennis and that the reason you no longer play tennis is because of your health condition... At this point you realize that your thoughts have run away with you and you simply re-focus your attention on the sensation of your breath in your nostrils. Then you may go down a completely different train of thought which might take you to a situation in your childhood home. When you realize this, you re-focus on the breath. Some times your thoughts might take you to a bad place, sometimes to a good. But whether you are taken to a good or bad place you must always return to the breath.
And this is how you continue throughout the duration of the meditation: You focus on the focus point (breathing), your thoughts will run away with you, you return to the focus point. It is a constant cycle of focus and thoughts that pull you away from the focus point. Sometimes you will return to the focus point quickly, maybe after just 4-5 seconds. But once you get deeper into the meditation and maybe get a little drowsy you can easily have trains of thought which lasts 1-2 minutes before you realize you have drifted away from your focus point. Many become discouraged when they have long chains of thought and think that they are bad at meditating. They are not - it is quite normal that the rows of thought can be very long - especially when meditation is new to you.
3x10 minute program
As you can read on the page Cure Yourself you should meditate for 30 minutes 2 times a day if you follow my Basic Head Program. I would recommend that you split those 30 minutes up into 3 meditations of 10 minutes with different focus points: the breath, the sensation of the body and a sound.
Breathing: For the first 10 minutes you will use your breath as the focus point and practice breathing with your stomach. Many STO sufferers have the habit of breathing with their chest which overexerts virtually all the neck muscles we are trying to relax. This exercise will help you to practice breathing with your stomach again. When you breathe with your stomach you must push your stomach out - you have to try to push out the part below your bellybutton – try to make your belly “pregnant”. When you do this the body will automatically suck air into the lungs. But it is important that the inhalation starts by you pushing your stomach out. Exhalation is done by you relaxing in one go – exhalation shouldn’t take more than a second or two. But the exhalation must not be a controlled one – it should happen as a consequence of you relaxing your body. When done probably, your breathing will sound like the breath of a someone sleeping – this is the body’s natural unconscious and correct way to breathe but many find it unnatural and have to “re-learn” it. In fact, many find this so unnatural that they will want to return to breathing with the chest as they are used to. It can even feel intimidating to allow yourself to loose control during the exhalation. But keep practicing - allowing yourself to loose control for just that second it takes to exhale will do you good.
Body: During the next 10 minutes you need to focus on how the body feels. I would recommend that you feel the body through and find the place in the body that feels the best. Personally, I can find the best feeling in the legs if I put them on top of a table. It feels nice to have your legs up on the table - that's why you do it - but you may also enjoy the same feeling without having your legs up on the table. This meditation can also be used when you lie in your bed at night falling asleep. Now focus on this feeling and when you realize that your thoughts have run away with you, you return to enjoy the feeling.
The sounds: During the last 10 minutes, you must focus on the sounds around you – this is your focus point. You can either focus on the most pleasant sound or you can focus on the most dominant/annoying sound. The later is a great exercise if you are sensitive to sounds because when you meditate/focus on annoying sounds and allow them to be there, you are no longer trying to run away from them and your stress will reduce. But sometimes it's just more comfortable to focus on the wind in the trees, ocean waves or birds singing. Focus on the sounds and when you discover that your thoughts have run away with you, you return to the sounds.