I have been meditating since the age of 21. I am now 31. My journey thus far has been difficult, exciting and very rewarding. I started meditatig because I needed help deal with the nasty things that life threw at me. Meditation helps balance emotions.
I spent ten years practicing mindfulness meditation: focusing on the breathing whilst keeping the eyes closed. I never got the focusing part right. In late 2014, I discovered Zazen - or Zen meditation: counting from 1 to 10 when exhaling whilst keeping the eyes slightly opened at a 30 to 45 degrees angle.
The beginning of my practicing of Zazen marked the beginning of a new stage for me. Until then, medidating was difficult. Zazen gave me hope in that I could now focus much better and feel a difference in how I would perceive life, its challenges and its beauty. I started feeling more serene.
In very late December 2014 - early January 2015, I started practicing silent mantra meditation: the mental repetition of a sound. There are many variations of this practice. Some people repeat traditional Buddhist mantras such as "So'ham," "Om Mani Padme Hum" or "Om" - the sound of the creation of the universe during the Big Bang - while others repeat words such as "Love," "Money," or "Widsom." I settled on "Om" - also spelled "Aum."
I chose "Aum" because of its simplicity and how effective I found it to be. Different mantras give different results. I recently graduated from meditating 10 to 15 minutes a seating - or meditation session - to 20 minutes. The results are very encouraging.
When I started meditating, I spent too much time looking for the perfect technique that would yield the best results. Like shopping for a car. I tried many techniques - which I recommend everyone does - for various amounts of times and in different seating positions. I like 20 minutes and either a seated or a seiza position.
One can get distracted and overwhelmed if reading too much about the many meditation techniques and their variations. Try all of them, pick one and hone it. It all comes down to which technique you feel comfortable with and which technique makes you feel better then when before you started.
Then there is the part of explaining meditation to others in order for them to respect it. It's more of a lifestyle than anything else. I meditate everyday if possible, as early in the morning as humanily possible, sometimes twice a day. The second time between 4 and 6pm.
Meditating twice a day reinforces the benefit of the practice. So does the location and the environment. Anybody would tell you to find a quiet place to meditate and nothing could be more true. That's the first condition for a good session. The second condition for a good session is to not expect miracles and accept that each session yields different results. Meditation is not an exact science.
There are other elements that make for a perfect meditation session. Time of day and weather conditions. If I could, I would meditate every day by the beach on a comfortable rocking chair. Nothing beats the quite, breezy outside.
When you start meditating and when you start a new technique, you will go through ups and downs and become an emotional and spiritual rollercoaster. That shows that it works. Because meditation is the gateway to reflecting on ideas, feelings and memories that are burried under millions of random and unimportant thoughts. Meditation is to your mind and soul what a decanter is for an old bottle of wine.
If you never practiced meditation and would like to know how it feels to medidate, read the following last two sentences. During the meditation, I feel my body slowly relax and my heart become lighter. At the end of almost each session, I open my eyes and realize that I disconnected myself from the world for 20 minutes and that I am ready to get back into it.