Learning Meditation: Inducing Meditation With 4 Relaxation Techniques

There is NOT just one way to access the state of meditation. There are 4 major methods, and each of these can be combined together. This guide to learning mediation aims to take the confusion out of how to use different induction techniques for enter the state of meditation.

By Murray Johannsen.  Feel free to connect via this website, Linkedin,  or by email.

Five Steps to Getting Started

  1. Find a good course of learning. Content is as important as quality of instruction
  2. Find a good teacher. Many can meditate, but fewer can teach it.
  3. Find an effective induction technique (see below). The practices below are ways to enter the state of meditation.
  4. Practice, Practice and Practice. But unfortunately, too many people give up too soon.
  5. Keep trying new things. DON’T GET STUCK IN A RUT.

The Basics You Must Know to Learn Meditation

Image by: SkoroLeto

There are plenty of meditation techniques one can use to induce the state of meditation. However, most of these techniques have a tendency for the mind to focus on monotonous stimuli.

In ordinary consciousness, the mind is constantly scanning the environment, attentive to new stimuli, things that could be of interest, and something that could be dangerous. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. Responding quickly to stimuli aids survival; ignoring new stimuli could threaten it.

However, the mind processes momentous stimuli differently. Take, for example, listening to the sound of the sea. This sound focuses attention and causes the mind to change — it relaxes.

Getting the Most From Meditation

Meditation has many benefits besides the ability to relax.  But, just this one thing makes it worth while learning.

Meditation produces positive changes in both the mind the body. You can drill down and find a detailed list here.

Learn To Practice of Meditation

Meditation is a natural, latent relaxation response built into the mind-body. It works — as tens millions who have used it over thousands of years can attest.

It is best done with a process know as an induction. Here are four different types of inductions.

Don’t delay. Get started now to take greater control.

Getting Started: Two Classic Induction Techniques That Don’t Work Very Well

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  — Common American saying.

Image by: Guyon Morée. The angry kitty. Certain negative emotional states such as anger will prevent one from entering a meditative state.

Getting Started. Many meditation teachers, both in Buddhism and in the West, don’t seem to understand that the way an experienced meditator enters meditation and someone who is completely new to the technique needs to be different.

A state of mind is not somehhting one can enter with a snap of one’s fingers or magical thinking such as, “I’m meditating now.” It is best done with a process know as an induction. There are different ones you can use.

When one first gets started, you will need to learn an induction technique. Unfortunately, some of these don’t work very well.

Example 1: Walking Meditation. You go to a retreat, and the teacher says, “Now I want you to do a walking meditation, follow me.” So you follow him, but nothing changes outside of walking painfully slow.

In the walking meditation example, it is the wrong technique for the novice. However, for someone who has meditated for a while, walking while meditating is an interesting experience.

Example 2: Just Breathing. It’s more than putting your attention on your breath. In fact, for many people, that doesn’t work. For example, you go to a retreat and the teacher tells you to “Focus on your breathing,” The person then stays quiet for the next 30 minutes while sitting cross-legged on a pillow, uncomfortable as hell. You keep thinking, “I have to breathe all my life; what’s so magical about breathing on top of a pillow.” In this case, the teacher did not do a guided meditation technique.

Fortunately, there are many different induction techniques one can use. The a major ones are below. And one can combine them as well.

Four Proven Induction Techniques

For some, entering the state of meditation is easy. For many, it’s not. Basic techniques include:

  • Focus Attention, Awareness and Thinking
  • Using the Kinesthetic Sense (The Body)
  • Practice with Vision and Visualization
  • Use of Internal and External Auditory (Sounds)
Image by: Bryan Helfrich

Focus Awareness and Attention and Thinking

Whether you can access meditation and stay in it depends on your use of awareness and attention.

Awareness, in this case, is defined as a process that does not require thought. One way to explore the meaning of awareness is to stop thinking.

Unlike awareness, attention has a focus. It is directed at something, commonly called the object of meditation, whether that is a thought, an image, a sound, a movement, etc. Concentration and contemplation are focused attention that occurs for a period of time.

The best way to think is not to think. In fact, some of the highest forms of practice involve no thought. Believe me, it is hard not to think. Thinking typically is asserted with distraction.

Kinesthetic (Body) Techniques

Sitting in a chair, pillow or mat is unlikely to induce meditation. However, sitting combined with an auditory or visual technique will likely be successful.

Focus on Breath

Classically, many traditions start with paying attention to breathing while sitting (the kinesthetic ) with closed eyes. However, after 20 minutes or so, many people realize that they did not change state and so give up. This happened to me. The first time I was sitting on a pillow, uncomfortable as hell, with a pain in both my leg and back that I was trying to ignore a thing, “This has got to be the greatest waste of my money ever,” “Will this never end,” “Focus on just breath is stupid.” Fortunately, I didn’t give up; I just tried another method, in this case, transcendental meditation and the state change occurred.

Body Techniques

a. Passive Setting

For someone who is just getting started, most teachers say it is important to find the right chair, the couch, the half-lotus, the full lotus and so on. What this positions have in common is a restriction of movement

Image by: premasagar

b. Active Movement

After one has developed a certain amount of practice skill, one can add movement while meditating. There are many types of exercises. A simple one is a walking meditation. Another is the 108 Prostrations in Korean Buddhism or the Whirling Dervishes in Sufism.

Image by Jakub Hałun. Tai chi show on Kung Fu Corner in Kowloon Park, Hong Kong

Visual Techniques

Image by: Art visionnaire narratif

Putting the mind at rest can be done when the eyes focus on a single point of concentration with monotonous stimuli. For example, let’s say you focus on the TV screen for five minutes. You will unlikely induce meditation since the scenes coming off the screen are anything but monotonous. However, staring at a blank wall will most certainly calm the mind.

a. Practice With Eyes Closed

Image by: Tony Hisgett

It’s common to learn to meditate with the eyes closed. This makes sense if you think about it. Minimizing the number of stimuli hitting the mind causes the mind to become more relaxed.

b. Practice With Eyes Open

One can begin to open the eyes; while sitting, most people start their mediation practices with their eyes closed. But one does not have to do this. Instead, one can focus attention on something such as the image above.

Access Through Auditory Techniques

While there is some benefit to creating a nice set of sounds to calm the, most commonly, novices are given a mantra. Many of these mantras consist of a single sound that is repeated over and over again. Some of these syllabi are considered sacred, a name of the divine.

a. External Sounds

Audio-Technica ATH-A500 Headphone,

Sounds are also widely used as an object of meditation and to access the state. Sounds can calm the mind or excite it. Think for a moment about how most people wake up. There you are, just in a nice relaxed state of mind. But wait, what is that, a horrible sound, so toxic that you might get out of bed. It is, of course, the alarm clock. Then, to make matters worse, one hears this same terrible sound two or three times because an engineer has developed something called the snooze button. Internal.

b. Internal Sounds

While today’s technology gives one more option in the use of sounds, classically, the sounds that were the most valuable were the ones that one would generate. Some of these sounds have meaning; others do not. Some are very, very old going back thousands of years. To illustrate the difference, let’s look at affirmations and mantras.

b1: Affirmations

An affirmation is typically a phrase repeated over and over and over again. The act of repeating the phrase may or may not help one to enter a meditative state. For example, one could repeat the words, “I am happy.” Hundreds of times, but still not be happy. The same goes for the affirmation, “I am meditating.”

b2: Mantras
Image by: Christopher J. Fynn. The mantra of Avalokiteshvara, OM MANI PADME HUM, in Tibetan script on the petals of a lotus with the seed syllable HRI in the center.

A mantra is a sound or series of sound that help one access or stays in a state of meditation. Often these phrases go back a long time to a language such as Pali, Sanskrit, or a Chinese dialect, so they may not seem to have any meaning when first heard.

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Legacee’s founder, Murray Johannsen coaches on meditation. He speaks from experience — having started meditating at 22. And he’s well aware of the unique stressors faced by executives and entrepreneurs — and how to deal with them.


Charles Bell (1774-1842): The Anatomy of the Brain, Explained in a Series of Engravings.

Good induction techniques help to access the meditative state. First, it’s important to understand that meditation induction techniques differ from those used during meditation. But not everyone responds equally well to the same method. For example, many traditions give the beginner a mantra. This technique generally works well, but not every beginner can reach a deep state of meditation using this technique the first time.

To summarize, there are many techniques to access and stay in the meditative state. However, it is essential to note that some people find specific methods to work better, and others do not work so well. For example, an auditory mantra while sitting may not work, so the person stops thinking that meditation is not for them. But if different techniques were used, they would have better luck.

However, like most things, you are bound to succeed if you persist.


Benson, Herbert & Klipper, Miriam (2000). The Relaxation Response. HarperTouch.

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