Meditation is very popular practice all around the globe. Meditation is a way to keep your mind fit, the same way a gym trainer would train the body to be fit.
Meditation is used as an umbrella term. There are many forms of meditation. Just as exercise is an umbrella term, and there are a number of different exercises you can do. It is a group of related activities. You can choose one technique and focus on mastering that, or you can practice multiple until you’ve mastered all forms of mediation.
So how do you go about practicing mediation? And what is the point?
Many think that the point of meditation is about emptying the mind. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Meditation is about focusing on the Here and Now.
What does that mean?
If you really think about it, many of our thoughts, angers and worries stem from thoughts of the past, and thoughts of the future. Meditation encourages your focus to be on right now, right at this moment. And what is happening right at this moment? You are breathing. Meditation uses a focus on breath because nothing is more current than your lungs filling with air and emptying at that moment. When we meditate, we temporarily let go of the past (which we cannot change) and the future (which is still unknown) and bask in the present; a place and time that is real and current, and that we often forget to appreciate.
When you can focus on the present, the past seems less significant, and the future is full of endless possibilities. The idea of good things or bad things happening is irrelevant. The understanding is that things happen, and things will always happen. Good or bad is a label we attribute to the situation based on thoughts of the past and our own ideas for the future. This is where our minds often become stuck in a loop.
Our minds are like hamsters on a hamster wheel. They can run all day and all night. But in the end, they aren’t really going anywhere. When our minds are filled with situations and circumstances, things that have been and things that could be, we are running and not really going anywhere. We have no control over most of the things that occupy our minds. And that is why, by using meditation techniques, you can focus on what you do have control over. You can focus on what is relevant. The Here and Now.
The mind is what runs the body. Meditation does not only promote mental health and awareness of yourself and the world around you, it has many physical befits as well. There have been many studies that show the positive effects of meditation on the body and its different systems. For example, meditation combats stress. Stress on its own can affect blood pressure, heart rate, sleep, pain, and anxiety.
- better quality of sleep
- lower blood pressure
- improved blood circulation
- a lower resting heart rate
- less anxiety
- slower respiratory rate
Mediation has even been known to be useful in weight loss, smoking cessation, and pain management when used in combination with other treatments.
While there are a number of forms of meditation techniques, they all share in the theme of focus. Any technique you choose will be difficult at first. We have spent our entire lives allowing our minds to run free. Getting your mind to focus without thoughts racing through will take practice and persistence.
This form of meditation involves focusing on one single point for concentration. This can be your breath, repeating a sound, listening to a repetitive gong etc.
The purpose of this form of meditation is that is offers you something to refocus back on when your mind wanders into thoughts. Instead of giving in to the random thoughts crowding your mind, you acknowledge them, and then let them go, going back to your point of focus.
This is usually the easiest way for beginners to start practicing meditation.
This technique is different from focused meditation. It is considered a more advanced form of meditation. Mindful meditation encourages the observation of thoughts rather than a clearing of thoughts. The idea is to see the thoughts that are floating through your mind in a neutral light. You are not judging or engaging the thoughts. You are simply acknowledging that they are there.
This meditation technique offers you a view of your thoughts from above, allowing you to find patterns in what you perceive as good thoughts and bad thoughts. With practice, you will become more aware of your tendency to quickly judge situations as negative, and you will be better able to alter your outlook to see things in a more positive light.
There are many other meditation techniques that you can try once you have mastered the art of focus. There is Tai Chi where you use your body and controlled muscle motions while keeping a relaxed mind. There is also walking meditation for those who are now able to practice Mindful Meditation with ease.
By practicing mediation for just 2 or 3 minutes a day, you can better train your mind and slowly begin to increase the amount of time you are able to meditate.