I learned to meditate in an ashram while I was in college. That was over 40 years ago. Since then, I’ve become a Neurologist, studied the brain and mind and spent decades studying techniques aimed at producing profound states of relaxation and meditation for health purposes as well as to become more spiritually integrated. During this time I learned to dismiss a number of the myths I learned when I was taught to meditate.

There’s no point in dwelling on those myths. Let’s move right into the heart of the matter – how you can dramatically improve and deepen your meditative state. The 5 tips are:

Tip 1: Determine what you truly desire to achieve and experience.

Tip 2: Ask for help in achieving what you desire to achieve and experience.

Tip 3: Relax until your body and brain are asleep or nearly so.

Tip 4: Feel and learn what your relaxed body feels like.

Tip 5: Surrender your ego and experience and realize what you truly are.

Tip 1: Determine what you truly desire to achieve and experience.

Why have you decided to meditate? Is it for health purposes, spiritual development, both or neither? What do you want to happen as a result of spending time performing this practice? If your answer includes the word “should”, then please reconsider what it is you wish to achieve and experience. This practice is entirely for you. Move deep down inside of yourself and determine what is it that you truly desire? Be completely open and honest with yourself.

Close your eyes and allow the answer to move from your subconscious to your conscious awareness. You may be surprised by what you learn. Oftentimes we don’t allow ourselves to have what we truly wish for. We often deny ourselves because we feel undeserving. Let that go and move beyond that. What are your deepest desires when it comes to what you truly wish to achieve and experience from meditating. Do not impose any limits on your desires. Let it all come into your conscious awareness and simply acknowledge and accept it.

This tip is more important than you realize. It becomes your intention. As such, it also becomes a limitation or an upper limit that you have imposed on your aspirations. So, periodically reassess what it is that you desire and allow yourself to wish for more.

If for some reason you’re having a problem with this tip because you feel that desire or achievement is egocentric and doesn’t have a place in a meditation practice, please see Tip 5 and learn to surrender your ego. If you truly allow the desire you have deep within you to arise and you accept it for what it is, it is less likely to be derived from ego. That deeper part of you, your true self, has a purpose and that purpose is perceivable as heart-felt desire. That heart-felt desire is not born of ego.

Tip 2: Ask for help in achieving what you desire to achieve and experience.

Do you believe in a higher power? Do you pray to that higher power? If you’ve completed Tip 1 and you now know what you desire, why not include that in your prayer?

I begin every meditation with a prayer and included in that prayer is my heart-felt request for help. My prayers in this regard have been answered on many occasions and I have complete faith that this will continue.

Praying for what I truly desire also helps me determine if what I am asking for is truly a desire that originates from my true self as opposed to my ego. As I am praying and asking for assistance in achieving and experiencing what I truly desire I direct my attention to all of me and feel all of me to see if I am experiencing any resistance. If I encounter any resistance then I know that my request is tainted by ego and I need to revisit Tip 1. If I encounter no resistance, then my request feels genuine and I feel more confident that I am on the right path and my faith and trust are further amplified.

If you do not believe in a higher power then simply open yourself to the possibility of serendipity or coincidence. Be receptive that somehow, what you request and require will come to pass, by whatever means. Simply be open to the possibility regardless of any causative agent.

In the final analysis, I think most people would agree that it never hurts to ask.

Tip 3: Relax until your body and brain are asleep or nearly so.

Profoundly deep states of meditation are achieved when your brain is asleep or switched off (the ego is then switched off too), while you are increasingly more consciously aware. In my personal experience and in teaching others, the easiest and fastest way to achieve this state is by learning to be asleep or nearly asleep while learning to increase your conscious awareness. This is best accomplished by learning how to profoundly relax and feel. The resulting state of profound relaxation naturally transitions into a deep meditative state as your conscious awareness expands, while your brain and ego remain switched off. In learning to meditate in this manner you maximize the associated health benefits as your body is, and you learn what it feels like to be, maximally relaxed without stress (lower blood pressure, lower levels of stress hormones and cholesterol, reduced or absent anxiety, etc.).

When I use the word relax in the form of a directive, what I wish to communicate is to relax physically, emotionally and mentally. Many people think of relaxation as only a physical property, but it can be so much more based upon what you intend and allow.

The first step to maximize the benefits of this tip is to assume a comfortable position. As for me, I’ve learned that I can maximally relax when I am reclining or lying down. You may have already learned that to meditate you should be sitting cross-legged on the floor with your spine at a 90 degree axis to the Earth. I can tell you unequivocally, that anything you wish to achieve in a meditative state can be accomplished in any position. I would strongly recommend assuming a position that makes it easy for you to maximally relax and even fall asleep – more on this in a minute.

Close your eyes and take several deep abdominal breaths. Feel your belly fully expand and breathe into it. This will allow you to relax and more significantly reduce any anxiety you may be experiencing.

Relax all the muscles of your body. At first, focus on the muscles of your arms and legs and let them get very, very heavy. As your limbs get heavier and heavier, allow yourself to drift towards sleep.

The key is being asleep or nearly so, while becoming increasingly more consciously aware. This is typically accomplished over time. First allow yourself to drift into a state in which you are very relaxed and drowsy. Learn to exist in this state. What you will likely experience is a very relaxed state in which you are drifting in and out of conscious awareness. Each time you find yourself coming into awareness, intend that you once again become aware after losing awareness and then relax further and let yourself slip out of awareness again. Keep repeating this cycle. Over time, your conscious awareness will increase, while your body and brain remain asleep or nearly so.

It is often very helpful in this process to perform this step while listening to music. The music will help you move back and forth between being consciously aware and unaware. We’ve experimented with and developed technology during the past 19 years that has had a remarkable impact on our spiritual embodiment and meditative states, as shown in the picture below.

Tip 4: Feel and learn what your relaxed body feels like.

In my experience, the fastest and most reliable way to get out of your head is to feel. The easiest way to stop thinking is to start feeling. So, what is it that you feel? Your body – all of it below the neck – that’s what you feel.

Every time you have a thought or after you regain conscious awareness, those are your triggers to direct your attention to all of your body and sense what it feels like. If at first it’s difficult to direct your attention to all of your body, then just sense what your hands and/or feet feel like. Over time you will be able to feel all of your body at once.

What will it feel like? Feel the skin of your body at first. See if you can sense what feels like a fine vibration. Don’t be surprised if at first it’s difficult to feel this vibration. Persist and over time you will feel it. If you aren’t able to sense it and you want to perceive what it feels like, then outside of your meditation session, extend your hands out in front of you and alternate between making a tight fist and opening your hands 5 times quickly and then open your hands and direct your attention to the skin of your hands and fingers. You should be able to feel a fine tingling sensation. That’s the vibratory sense you’re looking to perceive during meditation. Over time you will be able to feel that full-body.

Also, sense how relaxed your muscles feel. There should be a generalized heaviness, particularly in your arms and legs. Relax further and feel your body sinking into the surface of whatever surface you are on top of. After you sense how your body is feeling – your vibratory sense in your skin and the heaviness of your muscles – let go and allow yourself to drift off into nothingness. When another thought comes into your mind, and it will or when you regain conscious awareness, just repeat the feeling process once again and then let go again. Keep repeating this process and then before you know it, you will be out of your head and not thinking. In this manner, meditation becomes a feeling process rather than a thinking process. Over time, and it shouldn’t take too long, you will notice that as long as you are feeling, you are not thinking.

Another way to feel your level of relaxation is to sense how easy it is to take in a full abdominal breath. As you become more and more relaxed, you will be able to fully inflate your lungs with very little effort as the muscles of your diaphragm and ribs cage become more and more relaxed and compliant.

In addition, give yourself permission to feel any emotional feelings that arise. When they do, don’t treat them like thoughts, even if these emotional feelings are associated with thoughts. Instead, focus on the emotional feelings and encourage and allow yourself to feel them more intensely, even if it is painful. Witness the whole process, even if it moves you out of your relaxed state of being and even if it precipitates further thought. You have suppressed these emotions and now they are coming to the surface, into your conscious awareness. Your body is telling you that it’s time to process whatever it is that is causing you to feel this way. I would encourage you to talk to a friend or a professional if you feel the need to, in order to effectively deal with the issue that is rising into your conscious awareness. Otherwise, these unresolved issues will prevent you from deepening your state of relaxation/meditation, especially if you continue to suppress them.

Once you learn what your profoundly relaxed body feels like, particularly after you can regularly experience what your body feels like when it is asleep or nearly so, you will be able to recreate that feeling anytime. This is an excellent way to relax throughout the day, particularly if you encounter a stressful situation. Take a break, assume a comfortable posture, breathe deeply and recreate that feeling state of profound relaxation. This will return your body and mind to a stress-free state of being.

Tip 5: Surrender your ego and experience and realize what you truly are.

Deep meditative states are states of being that are devoid of ego. It is important to realize that you are not your ego and in fact, your ego is not even an entity. Your ego is nothing more than your collection of beliefs, coping strategies and mental processes that you’ve adopted throughout your life, mainly during your childhood and adolescent years. Your ego is the programming that you’ve implemented in your brain. When you operate from a mental perspective, you are funneling your conscious awareness through the lens of your egoic programming. As a result, it seems as though you are that, because that is the persona or costume that you are wearing in that moment and revealing to the world. In truth, you are not that, but when you are working through that lens, you cannot appreciate what you truly are.

Relaxing from a mental perspective is letting down your guard. It includes becoming far less attached to your beliefs, coping strategies and mental processes. Unfortunately, many people are very attached to their beliefs. Some people are so attached to their beliefs that they actually believe that they are their beliefs. This issue is entirely the result of funneling one’s conscious awareness through the brain, which stores one’s beliefs and which predisposes us to this false sense of identity. Because we tend to self-identify in the manner, it makes it more difficult to accept that our beliefs are rarely truths. When one realizes this self-imposed dilemma, it becomes easier to not hold onto our beliefs so tightly and to not self-identify with them.

With this understanding it becomes easier to adopt an attitude of surrender. In my earlier meditation sessions I would pray for help in surrendering my ego. I would intend that I let go of all of my egoic programming and tendencies. In this manner it was my hope that with less ego attachment I would recognize the experience of my true self. One of the realizations that helped me become far less attached to my ego was the recognition that I was no different than a drug addict. I was truly Addicted to My Ego, which caused me to use that title in a book that I wrote. It became clear that to rid myself of this problem I needed to ask for help. It worked for me and I have little doubt it can work for you.

As you lessen your attachment to ego you will begin to experience and realize what you truly are. In my opinion, this is the most important benefit of learning how to experience a deep meditative state. I hope these tips help you toward this end.