A revolutionary meditation guide: Match techniques to your abilities

Grow by understanding meditation techniques

By: Don Tipon
Updated: Dec 21, 2018 | Original: Nov 17, 2018
Category: Self | Tags: Meditation
Table of Contents (click TOC in the top menu)

You worry about the well-being of your family, friends, and country. You feel enormous stress about how to protect and care for them in this increasingly dangerous and deadly world.

Unfortunately, you are struggling just to make it through the day.

You want to improve your mental condition, abilities, and your productivity. But how?

This article explains how meditation techniques can speed up or slow your mental growth. Each technique works best for certain mental abilities and condition but could be harmful for others.

Choose the best technique for you. Fine tune it to fit your abilities. Then apply what you learned about how techniques work to quicken your improvement.

Let’s begin.

What is holding you back?

Your success or failure at everything you do depends on how well you manage your mind.

But, you probably have little education or training on using your thinking processes.

Your thoughts and actions are often beyond your control and driven by subconscious commands hidden deep within your mind.

You need help.

Meditation techniques can manipulate your mind and create positive mental states, so you can improve everything you do.

To get the best results from meditation, you need to understand how subconscious mechanisms are paralyzing you.

Let’s look at those mental barriers.

The problems with your brain

Your brain is the product of billions of years of natural (haphazard) selection of responses, now programmed into your DNA as subconscious commands called instincts. All humans are born with a truckload of instincts.

Instincts are ancient, automatic and subconscious commands that control your thoughts and actions.

I’m sure these instincts were necessary for survival in some past millennium, in some jungle or more primitive environment. But in our modern complex world, these simple instincts can destroy your life.

Instincts don’t consider all the new and changing conditions in your fast-paced modern world. They don’t use logic or weigh all the opportunities or ramifications. They don’t research or develop intelligent long-term plans.

Instincts are just dumb.

Even worse, instincts are wide-open doors for sociopaths to hack into your mind and control you like a puppet.

I’ll explain this serious vulnerability next.

Psychological attacks build mental prisons

Your modern world floods you with psychological attacks flowing from every TV, computer and smartphone. Examples of attacks are sexual innuendos, bullying, and phishing probes intended to manipulate and abuse you.

And what are the targets of these attacks? Your instincts. Why not? Everyone knows your instincts and how to push your buttons. Instincts haven’t changed in thousands of years.

People use your instincts to hold you back and prevent your improvement, so they can take advantage of you.

Attacks on people’s instincts have changed the course of nations and peoples throughout history, creating every detail of your culture and relationships.

Psychological attacks are a fact of life. Your only defense is to take back the control of your mind.

Next, I’ll explain why you hard work to succeed might end up crippling you.

Habits are your silent masters

Even when you design fantastic action plans that reward you with successes, you may still trip yourself up – if your actions become habits.

You start with a conscious, intelligent, and beneficial response. When that response is successful, you keep reacting in the same way.

When you repeat a response often and the feedback is positive, your brain will memorize it. Then it becomes an automatic and subconscious habit.

Habits are fast and efficient. Sometimes, only a habit will work. For example, in a game of baseball, a pitched ball moves so fast that the batter must swing his bat before his slow conscious mind realizes the ball is approaching. The batter must rely on his fast subconscious habits to hit the ball.

So, habits can be the perfect solution. Except, when your world changes, causing the habit to produce bad results. Let’s say a baseball pitcher develops a new way of throwing that makes the ball move strangely. The batter will strike out every time.

When a habit produces bad results, you have a big problem. Since a habit is subconscious and automatic, retraining your brain could take a lot of time and effort. In the meantime, a habit could do a lot of damage.

Habits can gang up with instincts and psychological attacks to hold you back as described next.

Your mind is a house of mirrors

Whenever you think, you only see reflections of your thoughts. You don’t notice this limitation. You cannot detect the size, shape and nature of your confinement. Reflections of your thoughts prevent you from thinking outside the box, forcing you to repeat your same old mental mistakes. This invisible enclosure imprisons your mind.

Add some psychological attacks and damaging habits into your house of mirrors and you have a real big problem.

Ancient ascetics hoped they could escape from their torturous confinement within primitive, morbid thoughts. They desperately tried anything and everything. Many died from their efforts.

For most of humanity, escape was impossible. But a few ancients stumbled onto practices which released them from their prison.

Now, I reveal their discoveries.

Alter your mind with meditation techniques

How can your mind improve itself?

A crippled or chaotic mind cannot heal itself. But meditation can transition a mind to a mental state where self healing is possible.

The miracle of meditation is that it alters your mental state by using the only tools available. The same debilitating instincts, habits and other subconscious mechanisms of your brain that crippled you.

How is this possible? Read on.

Control the environment

The most obvious tactic for altering your state of mind is to control your environment when meditating. Eliminate all influences that might slow your improvement.

Beginners should meditate in a quiet, safe, and isolated room to minimize distractions, social stresses and undesirable stimulation of instincts and habits.

Advanced practitioners may require an environment with some distractions to challenge their abilities.

Before you meditate, make sure you have the right conditions for you.

Next, the most powerful method.

Pit instincts against instincts

Conflicts between instincts happen all the time and you feel these as anxieties or stresses.

Beginners can’t stop or even reduce the damaging thoughts.

The surprising solution is – don’t try.

Instead, use a meditation technique which stimulates only instincts that create a better mental state. Then boost the power of those beneficial instincts to drive all other thoughts out of your mind.

No more conflict.

When you use the correct series of meditation techniques, you will gradually move your mind to more positive mental states, like climbing a ladder.

Now for additional tactics.

Steamroll instincts over habits

All your life you are learning cultural habits about what you should think and do. And you teach yourself many habits which were beneficial.

Habits are subconscious, automatic, and difficult to change. Habits oppose change, and therefor, oppose your improvement.

But, some instincts are strong enough to suppress habits. So, in your meditation session, trigger instincts that suppress habits and move you to a more positive state of mind.

Meditation techniques can empower instincts to subdue habits and other destructive instincts, corralling your mind into the least destructive corner of your prison. But this corner is a weak position. You cannot fight off psychological attacks forever.

Your rescue comes from an unexpected ally with the next tactic.

Dealing with your slow changing brain

Habits and other automatic responses are stored in neurons and connections between neurons. To change your habits, you must delete old connections and grow new ones. These changes cannot occur unless you frequently repeat a training pattern with positive feedback. But this takes a lot of time.

If you meditate frequently and consistently, your brain learns new habits which automatically shift your mind to new mental states and help you stay there.

You need these habits to quickly move you to your target mental state and stabilize you.

Now you need to know the target mental state.

What is the least damaging corner of your mental prison?

Most people are traumatized and crippled by emotions, instincts, habits, and psychological attacks.

For beginners, focusing on the present moment is a much better mental state.

Being in the present moment is less harmful than being stuck in traumatic events of the past or paralyzed by anxiety about the future.

When you are in the present moment, your conscious mind uses its intelligence to observe, feel and respond to what is real. You have the ability to make intelligent decisions and improve everything you do.

Daily meditation builds helpful habits and reduces harmful habits. But you need a power boost from the next tactic.

Push power to the conscious mind

Meditation techniques stimulate helpful instincts to shift your attention to the present moment. Beginners spend most of their time in session stimulating these helpful instincts.

Frequent meditation weakens bad mental habits and develops new beneficial habits. Eventually, you spend less time stimulating instincts.

Now your conscious mind has more time to watch and understand your mental activities. Slowly, your conscious mind learns how to help stay in the present moment. The more it helps, the less time you spend stimulating instincts. Eventually, your conscious mind has most of the session time to learn how to control everything your mind does.

Go beyond the present moment

Remember the baseball player and his habits for hitting the ball. Sometimes habits and instincts are the only solution. A person who knows how to manage their mind will choose the best mental state for the situation. The right response could be instinctual, habitual, intellectual or just plain conscious observation.

Being in the present moment is not the ultimate mental state. A better mental state is using your conscious mind to analyze and select the best mental state for the current situation. Then you shift your mind to that state to achieve your best performance. I call this higher state – managing your mind. This is one step beyond being forever stuck in the present moment, like an animal.

Managing your mind means that you consciously shift to the best mental state for the current situation.

Now your conscious mind can manage your habits. It can research what is the best habit, plan a training program, run a training program and then test the habit to make sure it performs according to plan.

You can even change instinctual reactions. You can create new points of view to trigger new instincts and get new reactions.

But these topics go beyond this article.

When you manage your mind, you are working above the mirrored walls of your mind. You can analyze your thinking processes and the world beyond. You can optimize how you think and respond to the world.

Now you need to understand which meditation type is best for you.

Get results when you understand your techniques

Choose your meditation technique by difficulty

Your progress will be faster and easier when you match the difficulty of a meditation technique to your current mental condition and abilities.

Overwhelming techniques land on you like a pile of bricks and do more damage than good.

Easy techniques don’t develop new abilities. Eventually, you will quit.

If you don’t know your abilities, experiment with several meditation types. When experimenting, use short sessions at first, five to ten minutes, to get a feel for how well a type fits you. If you can’t handle a short session, then try an easier technique.

You should not move to a harder technique until you can meditate in your current technique for twenty or more minutes with little mind wandering and no dozing off.

The technique descriptions below start with the easiest and end with the hardest. Now you can match your current abilities with the right meditation technique.

Match your mental condition with a technique

Your special mental condition will work with some techniques and not others. To find the best fit for you, read the subsection of each technique called, “Who would benefit.” I also recommend reading all the types before choosing.

Understand meditation types

There are thousands of meditation techniques. Understanding these techniques would be difficult, time consuming and not productive.

In the list of meditation types below, each numbered meditation type represents many techniques which alter the mind in the same way. This reduces the number of techniques to just a few types. Selecting the best type for you is easier.

Prepare for your meditation session

Select a quiet, safe, relaxing environment. Make yourself comfortable sitting upright on a cushion. If sitting for long periods is a health issue, select the best compromise for you, somewhere between sitting upright and laying down. Keep in mind, sitting upright helps you stay alert and not doze off while laying down is more difficult.

Choose your meditation type

1. Guided meditation

What you do

Make yourself comfortable by sitting or laying down. Close your eyes and listen to soft soothing music. Your meditation guide will speak to you in a pleasant voice. The guide talks you through a series of beautiful visions, happy experiences, imaginary spiritual experiences, focusing on body sensations or any combination of these.

You may also hear advice on how to relax, let things go, and to focus your mind on the present moment.

Your guided session could be a group event or you could listen to a recording in private.

What the technique does to you

The music, voice and visions presented by the guide captures all your attention and helps to push all other thinking out of your mind.

This technique is similar to hypnotic suggestion.

Who would benefit?

People with high levels of stress, anxiety, and uncontrolled or chaotic mental activity.

Improvement goals

This practice allows a person to ignore or forget their problems during the guided session. Provides needed relaxation and healing from stress and anxiety. Guided meditation may be the only way some people can unplug from their anxieties.

Problems

This technique cannot help a person with serious psychological difficulties and they should pursue a more direct and powerful treatment from a qualified psychologist.

On rare occasions, guided meditation can recall traumatic memories and cause dangerous emotions. If this happens, seek professional help.

Guided meditation tells people what and how to think and trains them to follow suggestions. This practice may weaken a person’s self-determinism and/or inject false beliefs.

The guide may end the session without a strong refocus of attention on the present moment, leaving a person in an imaginary reality.

Strategy for improvement

The pleasant music, speakers voice, and visualizations use a person’s habits and instincts to glue their attention on suggestions from the guide and expel negative thoughts.

The guide manages the mind of the listener. This technique does not challenge the listener to develop self-managing mental skills. I recommend more difficult techniques as soon as you are able.

2. Single breath meditation

What you do

Use this technique at work or whenever you can take a short break. Stop what you are doing and close your eyes. Focus your attention on your breathing. Then inhale deeply and exhale slowly while relaxing all your muscles. Repeat this deep breathing cycle as many times as you wish. Do this technique several times a day.

What the technique does to you

This quick, simple and easy technique can interrupt and disconnect a person from negative thoughts and emotions. Resets the mind to a relaxed state. Enables a person to rethink a difficult situation from a fresh and calm point of view.

When used several times a day, prevents the build up of negative emotions and anxiety.

Who would benefit?

This technique works well for everyone.

Improvement goals

Improves mental performance for short periods of time. Not difficult enough to develop new mental skills.

Problems

No problems or complications.

Strategy for improvement

Neurological connections in the brain will relax the mind when they sense slow deep breathing (see scientific research). This technique is also an old folk remedy that has helped people for ages.

Using this subconscious mechanism of the brain provides short-term benefits but no lasting improvement of mental skills. I recommend more difficult techniques.

3. Mantra, prayer, walking meditation, yoga

What you do

Walking meditation, doing yoga poses, mantras, and prayers are grouped into one type of meditation. All these techniques strongly attract a person’s attention and expel all other thoughts by repeating interesting mental and physical activities.

There are endless variations of spoken words and physical actions. You can find information about variations at Live and Dare.

For the rest of this description, I will use the mantra technique as a representative of all the others.

What the technique does to you

The mental and physical activities of a mantra trigger your instincts and habits to focus your attention on interesting present moment events and suppress all other mental activities.

A person will remain focused on the present for a while after the session.

Who would benefit?

People stuck in negative thinking, easily distracted or can’t focus on tasks that require attention for over ten minutes.

Improvement goals

This technique can stop negative thinking, cut off a person from their anxieties and redirect their attention to current events. Focusing on real, present moment events is relaxing and more productive.

This practice increases a person’s ability to disconnect from worrying and concentrate on positive activities they can do right now.

Problems

People should avoid mantras, prayers, and other practices which suggest false ideas or unverified concepts.

Strategy for improvement

Physical events such as mantras, prayers, walking intently, and yoga poses trigger strong instincts that focus attention on current events and expel other mental activities. Now you are altering your mental state by using instincts against other instincts and habits.

Use physical activities that strongly attract your attention to make the technique easier. For example, you can easily focus on a beautiful mantra recited out loud with other people so it echos in the room and in your chest. A much more difficult exercise would be a foreign language mantra you don’t understand, recited silently in your mind while alone in a quiet room.

Meditation should challenge, but not overwhelm. For your fastest progress, start easy and gradually increase difficulty as your abilities increase.

When you can silently recite a boring mantra for twenty or more minutes without mind wandering or doze off, you are ready for a more difficult technique.

4. Counting breaths

What you do

Put your attention on the sensations of inhaling and exhaling. After each inhale and exhale, count up by one till you get to ten. Then count down by one after each breath cycle until you return to the number one. Keep breathing and counting up and down throughout your meditation session.

If you forget what count you are on, or doze off, restart the process without self-criticism and continue till the end of your planned session.

What the technique does to you

The sensations of your breathing keeps some of your subconscious mind busy. Counting breaths keeps your conscious mind busy with a simple activity. These activities help shift your attention to present moment events. Errors in counting give you obvious and early warnings when you lose focus.

Who would benefit?

People who have developed at least a little ability to act like an executive, monitor what their mind is doing and control its activities.

Improvement goals

This technique is an opportunity to experiment, learn, improve and train abilities for self directing attention, preventing mind wandering and eliminating dozing off. These new skills let you shift your attention to the present moment and stay their.

Problems

No known problems since this technique is simple and directs a person’s attention only to current events.

Strategy for improvement

The sensations of breathing and the mental task of counting breaths attract attention with weak stimulation from instincts. This technique is much more difficult than a mantra and demands development of new mental skills or else the mind wanders or dozes off.

Beginners could start with only a few breaths per session and have many sessions in a day.

If you can do this technique without mind wandering or doze off, increase the difficulty by increasing the length of the session.

This technique develops and trains new mental skills which enable you to focus on the present moment for long periods of time. These skills are permanent and beneficial for everything you do.

Advance to a harder technique when you can meditate for twenty to thirty minutes with little mind wandering and no doze off.

5. Attention on your breath

What you do

This type includes several meditation techniques where you focus attention on one body activity at a time. The most common meditation object is breathing. Most techniques allow you to shift focus to a new meditation object during your session.

What the technique does to you

Putting your attention on a single boring body activity triggers instincts and habits that distract and disturb you instead of helping you focus. This increases difficulty and forces you to development new mind management skills.

Who would benefit?

This technique type is beneficial only if you already have considerable mind management skills.

Improvement goals

You develop skills to control your attention against strong instincts and habits which normally distract and disturb you. You will develop powerful skills for managing the activities of your mind.

Problems

The extreme difficulty causes many people to quit.

Strategy for improvement

Before you begin your session make sure you are ready. You will have a difficult session if you are hungry, tired, have an immediate problem, or feel distressed. If you do things to increase your alertness and calmness before session, your session will be easier.

You should make your initial sessions short so you can end the session on a positive note and not have a big loss. Then gradually increase session length as you improve your skills. For example, you could start at two minutes and work up to thirty minutes.

Begin your session with the counting breaths technique. After you have focused on your breath and counting, stop counting and just focus on your breath.

When you focus on your breath, amplify every sensation in magnitude, importance and emotional feeling. Select one sensation of breathing, magnify it and split it into more sensations and amplify each of those. Example: the sensation of air flowing in your nose could be split into air flowing in your nostrils, nasal cavities, and sinuses.

If other body sensations appear, use them too. Fill your mind with sensations to focus on present moment events and expel all other thoughts.

As you increase your ability to control your focus, reduce the exaggeration of sensations.

The above brute force methods help you keep control of your attention while you gradually develop methods to detect and correct mind wandering and doze off.

When rogue mental activities arise, recognize this as the challenge you need to learn how to manage your mind.

The simplest response to rogue thoughts is to acknowledge their presence as an event separate from you (you are pure awareness of passing events) and refocus on your breathing.

If a rogue thought persists, analyze the distraction, name its disturbance type and realize its unimportance and it will usually fade away. Examples of types are, worrying about future events, trying to solve a problem, and sorrow about events of the past.

When a rogue thought returns because it is important, become a manager. Make a mental note of the problem. Promise yourself to handle the issue after session and return to watching your breath.

After the session, write down the problem and schedule time to work on solutions. Some of these problems may take months or years to solve. Some problems are so big, you can only contribute toward a resolution. But if you know you are doing your best, this will help you calm your mind and allow you to do what you can do to resolve the problem.

A meditation session is where you increase your mental abilities, not where your solve world problems. You have to assign the right amount of time to each activity. Know that you cannot solve problems if you cannot focus your mind.

If you notice your mind is wandering, following rogue thoughts, or dozing off; train yourself to detect and correct these conditions in their early stages before they grow in strength. Then you never lose complete control.

Improve all your skills until they are automatic and your session is easy.

When you can easily sit through a twenty to thirty minute session with no major loss of focus, try a harder technique.

6. Attention on your mind

What you do

You can start your meditation session with any of the easier techniques. Then when you are doing well, stop focusing on the meditation object. Now do nothing but watch whatever mental activities and body sensations occur. Acknowledge them and then let them go.

What the technique does to you

This is the most difficult technique of all because there is no meditation object to hold your attention. It also challenges you to let go of all mental activities. Your mind becomes more quiet and your awareness under your control increases significantly.

As you improve your ability to let things go, you appear to have a paradox – to be aware of nothing.

Who would benefit?

People proficient with the previous technique or have excellent awareness and control of their mental processes.

Improvement goals

Your ability to acknowledge, identify and dismiss mental activities allows you to spend most of your time discovering more subtle mental phenomena and working to understand what they are.

You are increasing your ability to manage and improve your mental skills. You can apply these powerful mental skills to solving problems and making your life better.

Problems

The enormous difficulty is the primary problem.

Strategy for improvement

The paradox of being aware of everything and dismissing everything creates many new experiences, new challenges and more questions. These questions are educational and worth investigating. Don’t get discouraged when you can’t find the answer. This research into the unknown parts of your mind takes time. Just keep doing the technique and you will make new discoveries.

When you become proficient at this exploration, it can be fun and interesting.

When not in a meditation session, you can practice using your new mental management skills. Interaction with the external world is many times more complex than meditation and you must learn how to use your mental skills to handle real-world problems.

To help you understand the complexities of life you can read the article, “HOW TO UNTANGLE BUDDHIST NO-SELF RIDDLES TO CREATE POWERFUL LIFE STRATEGIES.” Other articles on the website will also be helpful.

Design your meditation for your fastest progress

Now you can choose the meditation technique that best fits your mental condition, abilities, and goals.

Then you can fine-tune the difficulty to match your abilities so you can optimize your progress.

You understand how each technique works so you know exactly what you have to do to get results.

But you also get a big bonus here. This explanation of techniques allows you to design your entire improvement path. As your mental abilities improve, you can select your new best technique and fine-tune the difficulty for your fastest progress.

You now posses the easiest and fastest path toward greater mental performance.

With your new mental powers you can make major improvements to how you manage your mind.

Meditation teaches you how to manage your instincts, habits, emotions, and conscious abilities so you can constantly improve your performance. (Click the link to tweet)

Because your mind management skills improve everything you do, you are much more productive, you can solve more problems, and make greater improvements to your life.

What are you waiting for?

Master you mind and change your life.


If you have any suggestions or questions please email me at DonTipon@FixYourThink.com


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