First let's take a look at preparation of the body and mind. If your muscles are tense and the body is rigid, it is much more difficult to reach a state of calm that is needed by the mind. Take a minute or two to notice if your jaw or hands are clenched. Do you hold your shoulders high up into your neck or does your neck and upper back ache? If you notice any of those signs that your body is not relaxed, take a few minutes more to start at the top of your head and relax each set of muscles in your body. For example forehead and eyebrows, cheeks and jaw, moving down the body until you've purposely relaxed every muscle group, including fingers and toes. If you are finding it difficult, you may want to use a progressive relaxation technique in which you purposely tense the muscles very tightly first and then release to relaxation. This helps a lot for people who just are not aware of the extent of their tension or rigid posture.
Breathing is another important element of the relaxation process. Deep, slow breathes, in through the nose if possible, filling up the lungs with as much air as you can, holding for a second or two, and then releasing the breathe, blowing out slowly through pursed lips. This can and should be done at the same time as relaxing the muscle groups.
Exercise and stretching can also be used to prepare for meditation as well as being a form of meditation. Yoga, Tai Chi, and some of the martial arts incorporate mindfulness with breathing techniques and are a great way to rid the body of tension and stress.
OK. Now let's take a look at focusing your mind. Keep in mind that all of the techniques mentioned will incorporate some form of the relaxation and breathing techniques, as well as the focusing techniques.
When thoughts come into your mind treat them like a fast moving cloud. Notice them and let them drift by and be gone, don't engage in them.
Use of a mantra such as Om or Ah is another tool to use for focusing the mind. A mantra can also be a word, a sentence, or an affirmation if you like.
Staring at an object such as a candle flame, a mandala, or any other object that you may choose is another way to get and maintain focus. Mandela's are considered a form of Sacred Geometry which, is another fascinating subject, and they can be very beautiful and intricate objects of art, that you can create and personalize yourself if you like.
Music, guided meditation, visualization, video, and any combination of these are frequently used in meditation practices.
What are your favorite meditation methods? What kinds of experiences have you had while using the techniques? Do you have an excellent book or website to recommend?
Here is a list of websites I found, that are helpful, if you would like to explore them for more information on meditation.
this video meditation series is my favorite and it serves two purposes for me as a chakra balancing and meditation/ centering exercise in one and is best if listened to with headphones on....enjoy!