When the turbulence of distracting thoughts subsides and our mind becomes still, a deep happiness and contentment naturally arises from within. This feeling of contentment and well-being helps us to cope with the busyness and difficulties of daily life.
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso – The New Meditation Handbook
The first stage of meditation is to stop distractions and make our mind clearer and more lucid. This can be accomplished by practicing a simple breathing meditation, following the steps below.
#1 – A quiet place and comfortable posture
We choose a quiet place to meditate and sit in a comfortable position. We can sit in the traditional cross-legged posture or in any other position that is comfortable. If we wish, we can sit on a chair. The most important thing is to keep our back straight to prevent our mind from becoming sluggish or sleepy.
#2 – Turn attention to the breath
We sit with our eyes partially closed and turn our attention to our breathing. We breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control our breath, and we try to become aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. This sensation is our object of meditation. We should try to concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else.
#3 – Our mind may seem busier
At first, our mind will be very busy, and we might even feel that the meditation is making our mind busier; but in reality we are just becoming more aware of how busy our mind actually is. There will be a great temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, but we should resist this and remain focused single-pointedly on the sensation of the breath.
#4 – Gently improve concentration
If we discover that our mind has wandered and is following our thoughts, we should immediately return it to the breath. We should repeat this as many times as necessary until the mind settles on the breath.
#5 – Experience inner peace and relaxation
If we practise patiently in this way, gradually our distracting thoughts will subside and we shall experience a sense of inner peace and relaxation. Our mind will feel lucid and spacious and we shall feel refreshed.