How to Meditate
 The Heart and Science of Yoga A Systematic Procedure For Meditation  
The following “Systematic Procedure” for Meditation is merely presented as an introduction. Any individual seriously interested in learning how to meditate should seek personal instruction from a qualified teacher. For further information, please contact AMI via e-mail at ami@americanmeditation.org or by telephone at (518) 674-8714.
PREPARE THE BODY PHYSICALLY

Meditation is easiest when the body feels fresh, comfortable, relaxed and clean. Taking a shower or even washing your face, hands and feet will give you a fresher feeling. In the morning, your body will feel most comfortable meditating if you empty your bladder and bowels first (if that is your habit); then prepare for meditation.  

PRAYERS
This is a good time for your morning or evening prayers if that is part of our own personal tradition.  
RELAX AND STRETCH THE MUSCLES
A few minutes of Easy-Gentle Yoga exercises can create a vast improvement in your health and meditation practice.  
BREATHING PRACTICES (Nadi Shodhana)
Sit in your chosen meditation posture with your eyes gently closed and the head, neck and trunk straight. Complete three rounds of Alternate Nostril Breathing Exercise (Nadi Shodhana).  
RELAXATION PRACTICE (Survey the Body)
Sitting in your meditation posture, with your eyes gently closed and the head, neck and trunk straight, inhale and exhale through the nostrils slowly, smoothly and deeply. There should be no noise, jerks or pauses in the breath; let the inhalations and exhalations flow naturally without exertion in one continuous movement. Keep the body still. Mentally travel through the body systemically paying attention to major muscle groups, joints and organs. Move progressively down the body from the crown of the head to the toes and back up again.  
SITTING IN MEDITATION
After completing preliminary breathing and relaxation exercises you are ready to meditate. 1. Assume your chosen meditation posture either in a straight back chair or in a traditional seated posture on the floor. Be sure the head, neck and trunk are straight. 2. Next, apply the “Finger Lock” (the thumb and forefinger together, resting the hands and palms downward on the thighs). 3. Next apply the “Root Lock” (gently tightening the anal sphincter muscle). 4. With your eyes gently closed, become aware of the breath. With each inhalation, mentally visualize the breath flowing from the toes (through the body) to the crown of the head (a little bit inside the head and a little bit outside the head) while silently listening to the mantra SO. With each exhalation, mentally visualize the breath flowing from the crown (through the body) back to the toes while silently listening to the mantra HUM. Continue to silently witness the inhalation and exhalation approximately five times listening to the SO-HUM mantra. During this process, notice that your breath has become smooth and calm. 5. Then, disregard the breath altogether and rest all your attention inside the Heart Center — the space between the two breasts. This is the place at which you will meditate. You’re not looking there. You are there (in that space). As you enter the witnessing state, sit quietly without any movement and lovingly listen to the sound and vibration of the SO-HUM (without any awareness on the breath). If any thoughts, images or sounds come into your awareness, do not push them away or become angry with yourself because the ego suggests you are a poor meditator. Simply witness any thought that competes with the SO-HUM mantra, willingly sacrifice it to your personal concept of the Supreme Reality, and then gently redirect your attention back to the SO-HUM mantra. 6. Continue to listen to the sound of the mantra. Listen to each syllable, and even notice the space between syllables. The mantra is your leader. As the mind becomes more focused on the SO-HUM mantra, begin to notice that the mantra arises from the silence and returns to the silence. When the silence appears, simply experience the silence, and when the mantra reappears, follow it deeper and deeper into the silence.  
ENDING YOUR MEDITATION
When you are ready to end your meditation, acknowledge the Supreme Reality within, and rest in that fullness and bliss. Next, make the transition to external awareness by bringing your cupped hands over your eyes. As you gently open your eyes into your cupped palms, keep your attention on the Divinity that resides within the Heart Center as you silently repeat these words: “Lead me from the unreal to the real.” As you slowly separate the fingers to permit light to reach your awareness, silently silently say, “Lead from the darkness to the light.” Finally, as you slowly place your hands gently on your thighs silently repeat, “Lead me from mortality to immortality.”

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