With all the different styles out there, could someone point me in the right direction.
A good book, internet article on an easy practice to take up before sleep.
It really depends on you as a person. As you stated there is so many different styles and you need to find the one that "clicks" with you.
The easiest thing to do would be to just start watching your breath as it flows in and out. Try to just be an observer without changing anything. Set a timer and start with a very short time at the beginning like 2 minutes.
Most people have difficulties focusing for more than two minutes at a time and their thoughts begin to wander. it is absolutely o.k. that thoughts begin to wander from time to time and the usual advice is to just bring the thoughts "gently" back to the object of mediation, e.g. the breath or a word etc. However I personally found it easier to start out with just 2 minutes of meditation and then just increase the duration over time. If you try to start out with 20 or even 30 minutes of meditation at the beginning I found that this can easily lead to an aversion (I "have" to do my meditation now) and this of course will make it impossible for you to relax and over time you will give up meditating altogether. So I prefer starting out with just 2 minutes at a time. I have read and heard this advice from many experienced meditators and found it true for me.
By the way it is a myth that you need to do meditation/ relaxation in a sitting position. Many people find it difficult to sit upright an relax so it is absolutely o.k. to lie down to do your meditation, just be aware that it is much easier to fall asleep when lying down.
For some people watching the breath is not the right thing to do. I was one of those people so I searched for other forms that might work for me. Here are some popular books on meditation techniques:
The most famous book on "western" meditation. Technique consists of watching your breath and repeating a mantra: http://www.amazon.com/Relaxation-Response-Herbert-Benson/dp/0380006766/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420621793&sr=8-1&keywords=herbert+benson
Another popular mediation/ relaxtion technique. Consist of imagining "spaces" in and around your body. Totally different to watching your breath. If watching your breath does not work, this might do it for your:
Yet another method. It involves watching your body and the tension in it without trying to change anything. Worked well for me:
There are also various technology tools that may help in developing a meditation practice, like biofeedback devices, CES, mind machines etc.
I have occupied myself for quite a while with the subject of meditation/ relaxation so if you have any further questions, just let me know.
HEADSPACE APP. PERIOD. END OF STORY!
Check out any of Sam Harris' work
A lot of people are better off starting with yoga. Meditating on ones own is very difficult.
My personal recomendation for meditation is going through the big mind process a few times to have a taste of what the state of meditation really is. I really like the integral life practice starter kit to get you introduced to meditation. Its the best approach Ive seen to date.
Just some real basic-basic pointers.
1. Just like exercise... the meditiation you do is much more important then the meditation you should do. Even a couple of minutes a week is far better then nothing. And it's life. Some days you are going to miss. Don't beat yourself up about it, just try again the next day.
2. Meditation isn't 'having a blank mind'. Your brain is supposed to keep running and bringing new information up. Meditation is letting these things slide by. I like to think of it like a window. The sun may rise, the sun may set, clouds may come by, a bird may fly by... but the window just sits there letting it all pass by. Do the same thing with your thoughts.
3. Especially when starting out, don't worry about the gimmicks and toys. Don't worry about holosync and binaurals or lotus poses or biofeedback. When first starting out, go simple. Stretch out on the floor or bed. Set a timer for a few minutes, and just breathe. Doing some square breathing exercises or the like isn't a bad idea, but mostly you are after just relaxing, letting your brain go, and just being.
4. If you are having trouble sticking with it, there are literally hundreds of guided meditations on YouTube. Not all are great, but try out a few. Maybe you'll find one you like.
5. Take care of things before hand. Pee. Take a drink. Check your theromstat. Turn off your phone. Get in comfy clothes and go somewhere quiet and comfortable. Don't give yourself excuses to cut things short.
6. I'd sort of advise *not* doing it right before bed. What happens a lot (especially in western culture where we almost never close our eyes save for sleeping) is that you'll drop off to sleep before you finish your meditation. While that's not bad in and of itself, sleep will gradually take over your mediation, and you'll end up with good intentions and a little more nap.
Plus, the clear, relaxed, and easy-going feeling after a good one makes me want to get up and do things. Kinda counter-productive if you are going to sleep.
Meditation can be a transforming experience because you simply sit and reflect on what is going on inside. Approach it with a sense of adventure and radical self acceptance.
I've read a few books on this topic but the one I've always gone back to is titled "heart of meditation."
I recommend headspace.com as well. I fucked around with books and guided meditations on youtube for over a year before I found headspace. Its really good and simple. I made a big leap in noticing my emotions, letting go, and overall emotional understanding with headspace.
For me meditation was such a challange to start. I started meditating using guided meditations. The first I ever did was Brian Weiss' meditation to inner peace, which I bought of Amazon. This was easy for me to do, and once I became familiar, I started looking at other meditations like twin hearts (which is free) and after a while, I stoped needing them and just started mindful breathing as my main one.
Self hypnosis is very close to meditation, the difference is intention. For free recordings I found this site to be useful: http://www.simplifiedselfhypnosis.com/
My 2 cents.
I've been trying out the Headspace app for a bit more than a week and really enjoy the presentation and instruction. It makes it very simple to get started and I subscribed. I've gone from knowing nothing to getting the gist quite effortlesslyâ€¦.don't know if that's surprising but I really had no idea what I was getting into. Meditating just kept coming up in the top 3 things to kick more ass list over and over and over so I thoughtâ€¦.give it a go. I also stumbled upon Dan Harris' book 10% Happier: How I tamed the voice in my head, reduced stress without losing my edge, and found self-help that actually works - A true story. I can't say I've ever read a book that was more spot on "for me" WOW !!! It tells the story of a reporter who has ZERO interest in the hippy crunchy stuff who finds meditation incredibly helpful.
I've had a really good time getting started. Recommend both !! (now I understand what my wife has been talking about by being mindfulâ€¦.ohâ€¦.hey, that's a good idea. Duhâ€¦.)
the best you can buy in my opinion is