Buddhism is not so much a religion as it is a dharma. A way of being; a way of life. Buddhist worship, pray to, and believe in no higher being. There is not a heaven or hell in this way of life. Buddhist believe that life should be lived in a kind and simple way that has little negative impact on others. This is the reason many Buddhist become vegetarians or vegans. There are many branches of buddhism suited for different people. I personally cannot put a definite name to the form of buddhism I follow. In a way it encompasses many branches to form a way of life that most suits what I hope to learn from this life.
When I was first introduced to Buddhism I was fairly young and did not have the maturity to fully grasp or appreciate buddhism. Looking back on my past self I was controlled by my anger which led me to be thoughtless in my thoughts, speech, and actions. It wasn't until I looked honestly at my past actions that I was able to begin looking for a better way of being.
Music was my first outlet and quickly became a passion. Whenever my emotion got the better of me I turned to the comfort I found between the lines of the stave. The familiar intervals and harmonies could always perfectly express everything I was feeling and became my voice whenever my emotions overwhelmed me. Unfortunately, music was only treating the symptoms of life not the cause of my suffering.
It was then I turned to buddhism and truly began living my life in a more positive manner. Buddhism provided the final guidance I needed to let go of the anger I cultivated for so long. I tried meditating the way I saw others; legs crossed, palms relaxed, breath deep; and often found myself waking up from a very restful nap. I learned that I needed body movement to accompany my meditation to prevent my impromptu naps.
I began what I refer to as yoga meditation. Yoga meditation helps me begin and end the day more mindfully. Movement accompanied by deep breathing created for me a more focused mind capable of keeping present throughout the day.
I begin and end each yoga routine by taking 10 deep breaths in cobra pose. Cobra pose opens my chest which is where I carry most of my emotions. After cobra I do various slow stretches accompanied by 8 count breathing to give my body time settle into each pose and consciously feel all my muscles stretching. I choose not to have a strict pose routine, because the focus for me is not the poses themselves, but to feel more at one with my body and consequently my thoughts and actions.
In the past I tried to meditate in a completely quiet area of my home, but I found the quiet gives my mind too much space to wander and become unfocused. I now use gentle background music, such as nature sounds or white noise, to give my ears a base, of sort, to focus on. I sit with the background music for 5 minutes just long enough for my ears to begin to tune it out, so that if a loud noise interrupts it's not as terrifying (I can't begin to count the number of times I was meditating, had one of my precious fur-children bark or meow, and nearly threw them across the room in fear). Also if you're new to meditating gentle music is also good to focus on to help get your mind to clear itself. (Tip: avoid music that is tied memories or builds in tempo. When meditating your emotions are vulnerable and easily influenced. It's completely possible to find yourself feeling overly emotional because of music that is playing.)
In the end, meditation is a completely personal experience and what works for me is not the path for everyone. Throughout our lives we change and so do our needs. With changing needs it's important that you stay conscious of what still works for you and what has begun to become a habit. I hope this posts helps those who are interested or those who are familiar have a better understanding of yoga meditation and Buddhism.