What is Meditation?
Meditation comes in many different forms, some may require you to focus on one thing, or to visualize something that brings you happiness but there is usually three objectives to meditation these are: training your mind to be present, quietening the mind increasing awareness and mindfulness. This is done of-course by simple breathing and relaxation exercises. Meditation is not limited to a select few but can be done by everyone at any age at any time with a huge number of health benefits.
Different Types of Meditation Techniques
Transcendental Meditation: Transcendental meditation is one of the more popular forms of meditation. This form of meditation has its roots in India developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and was popularised around the 1960’s. Transcendental meditation is an easy and effective way of meditating, which anyone at any level can practice on a daily basis. Transcendental meditation requires a person to chant a mantra which has some significance and that is relatable to them for 20 minutes twice daily. The aim of transcendental meditation is to reach a relaxed yet aware form of mind which enables you to have the power to let go of negative thoughts, worries and anxieties.
Mindfulness Meditation: mindfulness meditation is all about you. What’s inside and how to live in the present moment. In comparison to many meditation techniques the sole focus is centred on you and your perception of the present moment. Often our minds are so focused on analysing the past and predicting the future we forget to live in the present, which is truly the only time we have. Mindfulness meditation helps to quiet the mind, thus reducing stress, worry and the anxieties of day to day life.
Concentration Meditation: concentration meditation is a form of meditation where your awareness is focused on a certain object or place.
Gratitude Meditation: gratitude meditation is quite simple yet incredibly effective. Being grateful has tremendous benefits on psychology and has been known to decrease stress and increase overall well-being in life. Gratitude meditation allows a person to feel their gratitude’s it really allows people to focus on the feeling of being grateful. Being grateful not only enriches our lives but reminds us how many of the little things we take for granted and how truly incredible our lives are. Being grateful fills our minds up with positive thoughts and confirms the miracle of life, it allows us to appreciate everything around us in a deeper and more profound level.
Zen Meditation: Zen meditation is a form of meditation in which the practitioner aims to reach enlightenment. This form of meditation relaxes the body on a cellular level and quiets the mind to allow the practitioner to create insight into the existence of life in order to gain enlightenment.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation has numerous health benefits and non more profound with ailments concerned with the mind. Meditation improves stress levels, hypertension (high blood pressure), stabilises mood, lowers depressions, decreases anxiety, increases levels of wellbeing, increases sleep quality and increases creativity. Meditation has been shown to prevent aging. There have been profound benefits in regards to mental function allowing people that meditate to increase their IQ, alertness, attention and emotions.
Which form of meditation is right for you?
Well this entirely depends on you and the time you have invested to meditate. You might consider transcendental meditation or mindfulness meditation as these two forms are widely practiced and there are great programs out there that can help you step by step for all of your meditation goals. We will be running through a very simple meditation below, which you can incorporate into your daily practice.
Being in the Present Moment Being in the present moment is being in the now, neither in the future or the past. It is about fully immersing yourself in what is present and what is going on right now – because this, is ultimately what we are experience, not the past as it has already happened and not the future because it has not happened yet. So being in the present moment is finding the equilibrium between past and future – in other words right now. We are so fixated on analysing the past and planning the future that we miss out on the now. Meditation helps you regain your awareness and center it around what is happening now and experiencing your life at higher level of consciousness than ever before.
Higher Consciousness Meditation and higher consciousness have been synonymous and are still very much so. Higher consciousness is simply a higher state of awareness that is the ability to actualise what is within yourself and to understand the infinite part of your being. Higher consciousness does not have labels, categories, not time, no past and no future it is merely the acceptance and awareness of the meaning of life.
How Long Should you meditate?
Set aside a realistic time for yourself, if you are running on a busy schedule 10 minutes is totally fine. Optimally around 20-30 minutes is excellent to really get the ball rolling. If you are one of those people who have little to no attention span but are willing to give it a try, sit down for five minutes and work your way up from there – little steps always go a very long way!
When should you meditate?
Most people meditate in the morning to start their day off with a relaxed and focused mind and carry this feeling throughout everyday tasks and work. Practicing meditation in the morning allows good thoughts and feels to flow throw your body, increases your creativity and increases mental sharpness. Other people find that meditating before bed time is beneficial. However, establishing a practice of 20 minutes two times a day is fantastic – this will ensure your results are fast tracked. It may be a little difficult for you to fit into your day as mentioned earlier, start for a short period of time and work your way up.
Eyes Closed or Eyes Open?
This is entirely up to you. Eyes closed allow you to focus within yourself and eyes open trains you to be present in everyday life. Having your eyes has its own advantages, these being: while meditating with your eyes open your mind becomes accustomed and interprets the world within the present moment much fluently without having to focus your attention to the present moment.
Have good Posture
If you are thinking of meditating while in a seated position, ensure that your spine and posture is straight. There may be a tendency to slouch and if this happens you might consider lying down on a couch or on your bed.
Use an Alarm
If you aren’t using a guided mediation program you may need to set an alarm so that you will know when to finish meditating. Try adding a minute or two to your set time for example if you are meditating for 20 minutes set your alarm for 22 minutes. This ensures that you have time to centre yourself before you get into a deep state of meditation, in other words it gives you a bit of time to fiddle around scratch itches and swallow saliva.
What if I miss a day of meditation?
Just like with exercise or practice with absolutely anything that you are looking to get good at, meditation has to be practiced with the same motivation if you want to see lasting improvements. If you do not feel like meditating push yourself to do so, in the long run you will be extremely thankful that you did. There are a huge range of benefits from meditation and incorporating meditation into your daily wellness rituals will make the world of difference.
What if my mind won’t quiet? There is a simple remedy to this, just keep going! Keep bringing your attention back to your breathe and if your mind keeps wandering off make sure to revert back to your breath. You will see what I mean by this in the how to section below.
How to Meditate (for Beginners)
Find a quiet place to sit or lay down ensure that your spine is straight. Pick a quiet room that you will not be bothered in. You can also do chose to do it in complete darkness, or you can simply shut the blinds and outside distractions. Soothing and calming music is helpful while meditating. Soothing music that such as ocean waves or rainforest sounds are great, this helps with relaxation and the quietening of the mind. You can lie down or sit up, if you are lying down make sure that your back is straight and you are comfortable. Ensure that your back is flat. If you are sitting up it is great to keep a good posture as this allows breathing and oxygen flow to be more fluid.
Close your eyes and breathe through your nose and focus on the rise and fall of your breath then focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Ensure your inward breath is deep and your abdomen rather than your chest rises. Turn your awareness in wards and focus on the rise and fall of your abdomen. After a minute or so you will find that your mind will wonder off don’t worry this is normal. Your everyday life will manifest itself within your minds-eye and things that have been on your mind will appear, such as your job, relationships or any other form of distraction worry or procrastination. When you notice your mind wandering off bring your awareness back to your breath again focusing on the inhale, exhale and the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen – this will bring you back to the present moment.
Step 3 Take a deep breath in and release a breath out focusing on the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen. Focus your attention your scalp relax the muscles that surround your scalp, relax this area and allow the stress to melt away. Focus your attention to the muscles around the eyes then repeat with your jaw, your forehead, shoulders, arms, torso, and legs all the way down to your feet and toes, ensuring that all these body parts are relaxed and are not tense.
Step 4 You have now reached a relaxed state of mind. The aim is to keep this relaxed yet aware state of mind for your nominated period of time.
Step 5 Bring your awareness back to the room you are in and open your eyes, you should be feeling incredibly relaxed, at ease and clear minded. Start meditating as soon as you can the benefits on your mind and body are great! Start with 5 minutes and work your way up from there.
Hopefully you will start feeling results in no time. If you have any tips or tricks for meditation please share them with us below.
Thanks again and stay mindful!
Photo Credit: Ignas Kukenys