As we all know, it is difficult to live in the present. Our minds are constantly rehashing the past and making up fantasies about the future, and this prevents us from making the most of our present. Meditation tries to make us give up these thoughts and focus our attention on the present.
Preventing our mind from wandering is easier said than done. Try and prevent your mind from thinking about anything and staying blank for a while, and you will see how your mind rebels. Meditation thus helps us take control of our mind.
The Soham technique is one of the easiest forms of meditation, and it is also one of the most profound and effective forms. If you are a beginner, this is probably one of the easiest ways you can meditate and achieve calm.
Take a breath, and observe the sound your breathing makes. Picture the inhalation sound as 'So' and the exhalation sound as 'hum'. Then sit cross-legged in a quiet room with the lights off, curtains drawn, and close your eyes. Take a deep breath and say the word 'So' in your mind while inhaling. Similarly, as you exhale, say the word 'hum' in your mind. Each inhalation and exhalation is one respiration. 12 respirations form one set or one cycle. Do at least three cycles, which means that you will be taking a total of 36 respirations.
Remember to keep concentrating on your breath. Although the mind tends to wander, if you say 'Soham' and keep track of your inhalations and exhalations, your mind will tend to focus on your breath.
Another technique of meditation is to count your breaths 108 times. So inhale, exhale, and say 'One'. Keep repeating this until you reach the number 108. Focus on your breath and on the number, and stop your mind from wandering. Don't fight with your mind but try and bring your mind back to your counting every time you find that your mind has wandered. This will be easy in the beginning but as you reach a higher number, you will find that you are breathing and counting automatically and your mind has reached the other end of the world! This is thus a more difficult method of meditation, but with practice you will soon be able to control your mind, which is a big step in the positive direction.
If you like, instead of counting numbers you can even say the word "Om" in your mind. You will however need a rosary string to help you keep track of your progress. A string has 108 beads, so when you reach the end of the string you can stop, or you can start a second round.
Lie down on a mattress with your legs shoulder width apart and hands loose by your sides. Concentrate on your body parts, beginning with your toes, and consciously telling each body part to relax. Slowly work your way up to your forehead and head, and then work it down again to your toes. By the time you finish, you will be completely relaxed and refreshed. Make sure you keep a timer on, so even if you fall asleep the alarm will wake you up!