The Definitive “Underground” Meditation Guide: Secrets to Effective Mind Training
by Scott Jeffrey
Overview: This in-depth guide provides meditation guidance, meditation instructions, and loads of “underground” tips based on over two decades of research and experience in mind training.
I was suffering from acute anxiety before and during exams in my sophomore year at the University of Michigan.
As a consequence, I was getting sick often and freezing during exams, lowering my performance.
My uncle shared with me a simple meditation practice he learned from a course. Using this method made a measurable difference in my health, performance, and well being.
And so, from then on, I began exploring and experimenting with different meditative practices and breathing techniques.
Perhaps you’ve never meditated before. Or, you’ve been meditating for years.
Maybe you dabble in meditation, or you tried it out and decided it wasn’t for you.
Regardless of your relationship to meditation (or lack thereof), I’m confident you’ll find tremendous value in today’s new guide.
In this comprehensive and unusual meditation instruction guide, I’m going to offer what I’ve learned from over 25 years of mind training.
- The unconscious reasons most people resist meditation guidance
- How to meditate even when you don’t want to
- Powerful meditation instructions to make mind training more effective
- Understanding the vital intersection between psychology and meditation
Let’s jump in …
Table of Contents
- What is Meditation?
- Who Can Benefit From Meditation?
- 16 Powerful Benefits of Meditation
- Five Unspoken Psychological Reasons We Resist Meditation
- The Legend of Bodhidharma
- The Physical Barriers to Meditation
- A Missing Element in Most Meditation Instructions
- Six Basic Guidelines for Proper Sitting Posture
- The Goal of Meditation from a Psychological Perspective
- Where Meditation and Psychology Meet
- A One-Minute Meditation Guidance
- 14 Underground Meditation Guidance Tips to Troubleshoot and Build Momentum
- Meditation Guidance Tip #1: Stand Before You Sit
- Meditation Guidance Tip #2: Walk Before You Stand
- Meditation Guidance Tip #3: Sit for Shorter Amounts of Time
- Meditation Guidance Tip #4: Stop Trying to Meditate
- Meditation Guidance Tip #5: Meditate at “Extreme” Times
- Meditation Guidance Tip #6: Watch Your Parts
- Meditation Guidance Tip #7: Pay Attention to Your Behavior After Meditation
- Meditation Guidance Tip #8: Meditate on an Empty Stomach
- Meditation Guidance Tip #9: Sit in a Technology-Free Environment
- Meditation Guidance Tip #10: Keep Experimenting
- Meditation Guidance Tip #11: Tune Your Breathe
- Meditation Guidance Tip #12: Be Aware of Self-Deception
- Meditation Guidance Tip #13: Observe Nature Instead of “Meditating”
- Meditation Guidance Tip #14: And Finally, Lighten Up …
- Cultivate a Living Method, Not a Dead One
- Another Secret Omitted From Most Meditation Guidance
- A Powerful Guided Meditation
- Recommended Books
- Read Next
What is Meditation?
First, to get the most out of today’s guide, a beginner’s mind is essential.
Regardless of what you’ve read or heard about meditation instruction, if you approach this guide with the mindset of a beginner, you’ll derive significantly more benefit.
Okay, so what exactly is meditation?
Meditation is the art and skill of paying attention.
Right now, at this moment as you read this, a lot is happening:
- A barrage of thoughts are flying through your mind (Should I keep reading this? Does this make sense? What am I going to eat next?)
- Various sensations are pulsing through your physical body.
- Waves of feelings are coursing through your emotional body.
And that’s just in your inner terrain. In your external environment, there are sounds, moving objects, invisible electromagnetic waves from the device you’re reading this on, and so much more.
But are you aware of all of this moment-to-moment information? Are you paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behavior in the here-and-now?
One function of meditation is to help you pay more attention to what’s happening inside of you and around you.
This comprehensive meditation guide is over 4,500 words. Click here to download a PDF version for future reference.
Who Can Benefit From Meditation?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer in the field of Cognitive-Based Mindfulness Therapy, defines mindfulness as
“Paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
From moment to moment, if you’re already fully present and aware of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and environment without judgment about yourself, your experience, or others, then you don’t need to meditate.
Why? Because, if you’re already fully present and aware, you’re already meditating (even if you don’t call it “meditation”).
So do we need to practice meditation and receive meditation guidance? For most, the answer is yes.
Why? Because we live in environments of constant distraction and overstimulation.
Since Abraham Maslow’s initial research, we’re becoming increasingly aware that neurotic behavior is present in most of us. True positive mental health is scarce.
For the most part, we are unconscious of our behavior and what’s motivating our actions throughout the day.
For example, let’s say you have a habit of checking Facebook often.
Consciously, you might think it’s because you’re bored or because you don’t want to miss anything.
Behind this explanation, however, there are factors you’re unaware of motivating this behavior.
Perhaps you are unaware of your envy toward others.
You might not realize that you’re comparing yourself to every person, profile, and post you read.
Maybe you don’t feel how other people are looking down on you and how small a part of you feels as a consequence.
This kind of stuff is what’s below the surface. And these types of unpleasant feelings drive much of our impulsive behavior.
And so, for those us who want to live our values, get to know our shadows, realize our vision, and become more conscious adults, mind training and meditation instruction, in some form, seems essential.
Paying attention is one of the most vital skills we can learn—something that touches every area of our existence.
16 Powerful Benefits of Meditation
Now, you’ve probably already read or heard about the scientific benefits of meditation.
Perhaps that’s why companies including Google, Apple, Nike, Target, General Mills, Procter and Gamble, and AOL Time Warner offer meditation training to their executives. Even sports franchises, like the Seattle Seahawks, have meditation programs.
I don’t want to invest a lot of time here, but for our intellectual minds that need “scientific validation” for the things we do, here’s a list of some of the benefits of meditation derived from current research:
- Lowers stress levels
- Enhances immune function
- Grows gray matter and makes your brain more plastic
- Provides better focus and helps regulate attention
- Improves regulation of emotions
- Heightens self-awareness
- Slows down your brainwave patterns
- Strengthens discipline and self-control
- Reduces anxiety
- Promotes better sleep
- Increases compassion
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces physical pain
- Enhances creativity (divergent thinking)
- Strengthens immune function
- Elevates mood
Okay, okay. We get it. Meditation is good for us.
But if meditation is so good for us, why doesn’t everyone meditate?
And even for those of us who have received meditation guidance and do practice it, why is there often still resistance?
(Resistance can take the form of being unwilling to follow meditation instruction or making little progress in your practice.)
Five Unspoken Psychological Reasons We Resist Meditation
There are both psychological and physical reasons why most people resist meditation guidance and derive limited benefits when they follow the instructions.
Let’s bring the psychological reasons to consciousness first.
The Lazy Part
The Message: “I don’t want to meditate.”
When the lazy archetype possesses us, you might think meditation would become more natural. After all, we’re just sitting there.
But meditation is an active process that requires physical and mental energy. And our lazy part mainly wants to be entertained so it can “check out” and escape reality.
When we run on autopilot, ignoring our emotional flow and energy expenditure, there are little reserves for meditation.
For this reason, most people find it easier to meditate in the morning as we tend to have more mental energy at the start of the day.
Regardless, a part of us (usually an adolescent part) fundamentally doesn’t want to sit still and pay attention.
Why? Remember the message from our teachers in school? “Sit down and pay attention.”
We revolted against this command back then, and this part of us still defies this directive now.
The Message: “Yes! I completed another 30-minute meditation.”
The brother of laziness is the Achiever. And it too creates an equal level of resistance to meditation.
The Achiever’s expression of resistance, however, is different. It might not want to sit still, perceiving meditation as a waste of time. (“I’m too busy to meditate. I have important things to do.”)
Or, if the Achiever believes meditation is essential for achievement (which is becoming a more common sentiment), it will put it on a list of things to do and then meditation to cross it off that list.
The Achiever will also push you to meditate longer than you should.
All of these unconscious drives create internal resistance and reduce the efficacy of your meditation practice.
The Message: “I’m better than you because I meditate.”
There are now many social groups (so-called “spiritual” or “new age” communities) where meditation is considered “cool” or the “in-thing” to do.
Meditation can become a part of a person’s identity. (“I am a meditator.”)
And this identification leads to inflation. (“I’m superior to others because I meditate and they don’t.”)
Psychiatrist David R. Hawkins aptly called this a spiritual ego. These individuals feel special because they meditate.
Two unconscious motivations drive this ego identification: the basic needs for belonging and self-esteem. (Yes, from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.)
And these unrecognized drivers lead us to a false, inflated view of ourselves, which detracts from our meditation and creates resistance to cultivating a meaningful practice.
The Message: “You shouldmeditate.”
The unconscious message behind so many instructional meditation guides and the entire field of transpersonal psychology (that introduced the West to the benefits of meditation in the first place) is that you should meditate.
“Meditation is a moral imperative,” the literature states.
Essentially, the meditation community shames us into meditating. And if we don’t acknowledge this shame, it will silently limit or destroy our practice.
Meditation, in fact, will become a form of self-punishment. (No wonder so many people resist meditation!)
So why aren’t you meditating? What’s wrong with you? Don’t you know better? It’s good for you.
Do you feel shame now?
The Message: “I love meditating.”
Truthfully, I’ve come to observe that most people who meditate hate meditation. But the existence of this hatred isn’t fully known to them.
Everyone would be neutral toward something like meditation as it’s a natural process. We develop an aversion to things because of how (and by whom) the ideas are introduced to us.
In the beginning, every child is curious and interested in learnin