What Meditation is not!

Only in meditation can we truly experience our full being, beyond all habitual patterns as it is a way of bringing ourselves back or awaken in us the nature of the mind. Meditation can improve the quality of life and decrease healthcare costs as it is an effective form of stress reduction, and help achieve a state of thoughtless awareness to neutralize stress without reducing effectiveness and alertness.  Authentic meditation is a profound, deep peace that will enable you to focus on the present rather than dwelling on the past or the future and it can be done while doing your day’s labors or while sitting in a lotus posture on the top of a mountain.

Before knowing about meditation, you have to familiarize yourself with its practices and beliefs which are often considered a meditation but are not meditation at all.

Meditation is just one form of concentration.

While concentration is constantly projecting your attention towards a particular activity or task, in meditation don’t need to choose anything to concentrate upon. Concentration is important for learning meditation but it is not meditation.

Meditation is NOT Relaxation.

Meditation will make you relax but meditation is not relaxation because while relaxation makes you calm as well as gives you serenity, the natural outcome of relaxation is meditation.

Meditation is NOT a religious practice

Meditation is not a ritual or a particular exercise and anybody can do it.  It is a quality of your existence and the awareness of your true self. It is not connected with any specific ritual or religion but requires genuine effort of your part to learn meditation.
Meditation is NOT a state of mind

A meditative state is not meditation, it is the state of mind in meditation and many gadgets in the market promise to take you to that meditative state. Meditation is the awareness of your true self.  While in the meditative state you become still, calm, and tranquil, in meditation you remain aware of the present moment where no gadget can create that “true awareness”.

Meditation is NOT self-hypnosis

While an initial period of concentration is required in both meditation and self-hypnosis, in hypnosis you enter into a state of semi-conscious trance and become unaware of the moment while in meditation you maintain awareness and stay conscious of the meditative process.

Meditation is NOT thinking

Meditation is the process of transcending the thought process because we realize that we are not just our mind and body but there exist an awareness independent of any kind of thought which is what meditation is all about.

 

 

 

Mantra Meditation

The concept of mantra meditation started in India. This is the reason why most mantras are in Sanskrit, which is the language used in the Vedas – the oldest known written texts. Though the Sanskrit language is very old and uncommon, it has the phonetic significance and the ability to produce powerful sound vibration that is still found in the numerous mantras written in this language.

There are many misconceptions about what a mantra is and why they are repeatedly chanted during meditation. Many knowledgeable individuals believe that mantra is only a boring repetition of words that does not affect the consciousness but only leads you to sleep. Other wrong notions exist because people are not fully aware of the mechanisms of mantras. So before using mantras to meditate, you must have no doubts in your mind about them.

Foremost in mantra meditation is that you must be fully aware of its meaning.  If you are one of those who repeat a mantra in a mechanical fashion, then it will just be like any ordinary word. The most important requisite in mantra meditation is for you to emotionally feel the mantra. If this emotional attachment is absent, then the mantra is nothing more than a lullaby.

It also seems logical that since a mantra creates a powerful sound, all that needs to be done is repeating it using a recorder and just listen to it whenever you want to achieve a meditative state. However, this is not so. If you record a mantra and just listen to it then you are only passively listening and will act as a lullaby that gets you to sleep. So keep in mind that there are two basic requirements to get any benefit out of mantra meditation: 1) the mantra’s sound; and 2) orally repeating the mantra with full awareness and faith in its meaning.

Interestingly, there is also the misunderstanding that you need to repeat saying the mantra with sufficient sound and not just a whisper or a hum. While it is true that all your actions and thoughts produce a sound, there is no difference between saying a mantra loudly or silently.  Therefore, when repeating a mantra, you must have some emotional reason for doing so and you must know its meaning because chanting a mantra is different from merely listening to a recording.

Positive Affirmations and Meditation

If you want positive change in your life, you must develop a positive and powerful attitude, turn failure to success and drive it to a new level. Developing positive thinking techniques is one of the most powerful life strategies to achieve what you want because it will help you develop your personal power to transform your health and renew your passion and joy for life. Affirmations are you being conscious of your thoughts. They are statements where you assert things to be true just like a prayer. Finding something to say that will make you feel good is the basic idea to meditating with positive affirmation or you may want to combine meditation with prayer.

Basically, the idea of meditating with positive affirmation is to find something to say that will make you feel good like combining prayer with meditation. It doesn’t matter which religion you worship, just take a religious saying that makes you feel good and keep repeating it. For example, if you are stressed out, you can either envision in your mind the word relax or try repeating the word. Just focus and believe in what you say in order to optimize the meditation because it will allow your left side of the brain to be quieter so that the message can reach the right side of your brain, and evolve into an emotional experience.

Positive affirmations are short positive statements used to reprogram your thought patterns and replace them with positive self-nurturing beliefs. Affirmations will work if you are determined to make changes and are more prepared to let go of the past. Remember, to always think and say positive affirmations to remind you to think consciously about your words and you will experience these changes to reflect our positive affirmation.

How deeply you held your beliefs and how determined you are at bringing that change in your life, will determine how quickly your affirmations will work for you. Some people have experienced instantaneous change because they believe it to be right for them. Therefore, it is not a question of time, but how prepared you are to embrace and accept change. However, you should be under no illusion that you will not be experiencing other issues in other aspects of your life because other issues will pop up but the joy is, now you have the knowledge and skills to deal with these issues effectively.

Affirmations will manifest a real change in your life and make you feel better about yourself if you use it correctly. By changing the way you think you will be reprogramming your mind and remove negative beliefs from sabotaging you again and will enable you to achieve the life you’ve always wanted.

Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is for everyone and the benefits of practicing it regularly are vast.  Meditation is a concentrated communion with nature and with everything around you but there is so many different ways to meditate because there are also many types of personalities and a form of expression that satisfies one person will not necessarily satisfy another.   The best thing about meditation is that anyone can do it and it can be learned at almost any age and incorporated into your daily life. Meditation can help you in a multitude of ways and you can practice it either in the comfort of your own home or with a meditation group.

There are two main types of meditation. First, there is concentrative meditation which focuses attention either on an image, a sound/word, phrase or the rhythm of breathing to calm the mind for the emergence of greater clarity and awareness. For instance, when someone is angry, anxious, fearful or distracted they tend to breathe in a shallow, rapid and uneven manner. Whereas when somebody is calm, composed and focused, they tend to breathe slowly, deeply and in a regular manner.  Focusing on a continuous rhythm of inhaling and exhaling provides an object for meditation. As awareness is focused on breathing, the mind is absorbed into listening to the inhaling and exhaling rhythm, which results in breathing deeper and slower and a more aware but tranquil state of mind.

The second main type of meditation is mindfulness meditation, which involves focusing attention on becoming aware on the continuous passing of a multitude of images, feelings, thoughts, smells and sounds without becoming deeply involved with these. This could help in gaining a calmer, collected and non reactive mind set. This type of meditation can be compared to a wide angle lens as opposed to a regular lens. It is like being aware of the entire field instead of just seeing a specific object. Through these types of meditations you learn to acquire the relaxation response, be aware of your mind and how your attitude can produce stress. A meditation, by quieting the mind, gets you in tune with your inner physician and allows your body’s inner wisdom to be utilized.

In modern days, you may have forgotten the origins of meditation and its purpose because of the bustle of the modern life and the very fascinating and more understandable world of science. But, meditation is not just for gaining the meaning of life but for learning about your true self.

 

Why meditate?

Everyone needs to meditate so that they will learn more about the way their mind works. By meditating they will recognize unhelpful thought patterns, actions, and feelings responsible for making them less effective. They will be more aware of the problems they didn’t know which may be responsible for their unhealthy patterns of anger or feeling despondent. While it is true that some people take more naturally to meditation than others, anybody can do it if done for even as little as 15 minutes a day.

Scientific evidence also shows that meditation reduces blood pressure and relieves pain or stress. Other conditions that benefit from meditation include drug addiction, fibromyalgia, infertility, psoriasis, respiratory diseases, premenstrual syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers. Psychological benefits include decreasing anxiety, depression, insomnia and panic attacks, and increasing or improving emotional stability, vitality, happiness, memory and learning ability.

Meditation has two basic goals. The first is spiritual renewal, aiming to produce a feeling of oneness with a higher being whether it is a divine god, a holy spirit, or an eternal truth. Next, is searching the basic truths in life in a peaceful state, separating illusion from reality and obtaining a better understanding of reality instead of confusing this with a thoughtless condition. The first goal could be easily attained through devotion or sincere dedication.

The product of the first goal is peace of mind, which helps persons understand the problems they encounter. With an expanded consciousness, a person is able to loosen the tightness of psychological attachments and go beyond petty reactions because they realize that there is more to living than just snobbery, which comes from an insecure ego and resentment caused by wounded vanity. Having a sense of oneness with a spiritual being helps refine the passions and allow a person to grow emotionally. This identification with the core of one’s being makes the will to act based on what is right and wrong stronger.

For the second goal, you will need much practice in order to have a mature philosophy as part of this goal is to have clarity of the mind. This helps in improving a person’s sense of what is right and wrong. This is also the main purpose of education and is a critical indication of future success or failure. Purity of the heart and freedom from hate, negativity, prejudice and resentment are other objective of meditation.

Today, research literature on meditation is growing in number and so are the various kinds of medical practitioners who are increasingly incorporating meditative techniques in their practice. Research has also shown that meditation contributes to the improvement of a person’s physiological and psychological condition. This is because meditation causes brainwave patterns to turn to an alpha state, the level of consciousness which promotes healing.

Basic Requirements for Meditation

When talking about meditation, we are referring to a method that helps us in relaxing our bodies and minds. In the past, different techniques have been used by different religions for their respective spiritual traditions. Nowadays, meditation is a common activity for individuals who want to improve their physical and mental well being.

Here are the five basic requirements for meditation:

Practical Idealism. You must believe in what you practice. Meditation must not be a hypocritical act and must be supported by a philosophy which guides your actions, attitude, motivations, relationships and restraints.

A suitable place. If you are a beginner, find a place conducive to sitting or lying down to relax your body muscles with minimum distractions.  As your concentration prowess    develops, you will be alb to meditate just about anywhere and anywhere you want,   even in the noisiest and busy environments.

A comfortable posture. Ensure that your mind and body is comfortable, as it has been proven that postural realignment can affect your state of mind.  The mind can meditate only if the body is totally free from pain so complicated postures, such as the lotus posture, are merely symbolic and not ideal for meditation. Therefore, the spine should be structurally sound and normally kept erect and the body weight is distributed around it. Ideally, a sitting position is better for meditation because lying down could easily lead you to sleep. A semi-reclining position is only recommended if you are a person who does not easily go to sleep during the day.

Relaxed disposition. Meditation is never an ego trip or any sort of competition. It should be a relaxed attitude which is the most essential element of meditation where alertness and relaxation must be in perfect balance. Distractions from environmental sounds are inevitable but if you slip away, just make sure to bring your awareness to the meditation object.  Eventually and with practice these moments of deep restfulness and calm during the meditative state will be more frequent.

Methods constituting the practice of meditation. These are the fifth requisite element in meditation and you could choose your preferred method. For example, while in some meditation methods the subject has to close their eyes to make relaxation easier to induce, others involve looking at an object with open eyes.   There are those who prefer the use of mantra because for them single thought sound has the effect of quietening the mind while awareness of breathing is also used as a single meditation method to promote relaxation. Remember that you must have knowledge and understanding of these methods as each have its own unique requirement you have to follow.

What is Meditation?

Meditation means different things to different groups of people.  To grossly over-generalise, in the West, it tends to mean a concentrated state of mind in serious reflection while in the East, it tends to mean fixing the mind in a spiritual ideal and to be one with it.  Meditation is a proven alternative method of therapy and can be classified as a mind-body medicine. There are people who consider meditation as a prayer or worship but meditation is all about awareness and what you do with awareness is meditation, like listening to the birds or music as long as it’s done to free your mind from distractions.

Meditation is like training the mind to keep it healthy just like physical exercise to keep the body fit as through meditation it is possible to develop a positive and clear state of mind.  It’s not only about thinking good thoughts. It’s all about bringing the best in yourself, and your thoughts, as well as your emotions. Meditations are a way of life and a way of reducing anger, stress and other negative emotions around you and to grow in consciousness to help you become a compassionate, loving, and productive person.

Interestingly, a growing number of medical practitioners in various specialties prescribe meditation as a way for patients to lower their blood pressure, improve physical performance for people with various ailments, including cardiovascular disease. They also recommend it to people who suffer from asthma to help them breathe easier during an asthma attack. It is even recommended for relieving insomnia and for general relaxation because it is known as a safe and simple method for balancing the emotional, mental and physical states of a person.

Using meditation in healing has been used for as long as religion was first conceived as meditative techniques have been a product of diverse cultures rooted in the traditions of the world’s great religions.  All religious groups practice some kind of meditative ritual and they value meditation as a way for promoting healing and alleviating suffering, especially in impoverished nations.

Meditating is different from having a good rest or sitting pretty because silence without spiritual aspirations is unproductive.  Being aware of inner silence is hard to achieve and can be confused with being dull or soporific, which are clearly not objectives of meditation. However, by learning the regular series of balanced techniques, you will be able to liberate your body and mind as well as improve the quality of your consciousness.

Meditation Techniques

Meditation techniques range from easily learned to those that require some training. Enumerated here are meditation techniques according to degree of difficulty from the easiest to the hardest procedures. Please take note that if you are a beginner, it is a good idea to be under the guidance of a qualified practitioner as many people undergo some discomfort from the initial psychological impact because repressed memories are revived.

Simple Meditation – is good for inducing the relaxation response and is ideal before breakfast.

Walking Meditation – is a technique where you must focus on both feet as each touches the ground. Concentrate on your two feet and do not let anything distract you. This exercise forces you to attend to the action of walking and helps to improve your power of concentration and mindfulness.    

Transcendental Meditation – otherwise known as TM, is the most thoroughly researched meditation technique. You will be given a word or phrase to be your “personal mantra” and you will repeatedly say this to enable your mind to focus. Research has shown that TM results in heightened awareness and a deeper state of relaxation, it increases psychological adaptability and physical stability, improve creativity, intelligence and comprehension ability. It is also one of the most effective techniques for reducing alcohol and drug abuse as it decreases anxiety.

Mindfulness – is also known as insight meditation or Vipassana in Buddhism. This means fully experiencing what is happening around you. Mindfulness helps in turning down all the troubles in our minds like anger, doubts, guilt, etc. and focuses your thoughts on the good things around you. It helps in improving the effectiveness of your response to any situation.

There are 2 types of mindful meditation. There is the formal type, such as the yoga and tai-chi, and the informal mindfulness, which involves mindfully focusing on all daily activity, no matter how trivial.

Journey Meditation – is a technique that combines images and visualization for achieving a state of meditation. An example would be imagining oneself in a peaceful place. You start by finding a peaceful place to sit either on a chair or on the floor with your back against a wall and imagine yourself in a peaceful place.

Vibrational Meditation – is also known as sounding meditation. Here, repeating a word or sound is the point of focus and releasing noise and sound is a way to release stress. This technique aims to clear the tightness in the muscles when you are feeling tense.

Movement Meditation – Like yoga, this technique combines breathing with flowing movements to achieve a meditative state. It is most appealing for people who like to have a meditative state of mind through bodily movement.

Body Scan Meditation – is similar to a formal type of mindfulness meditation technique, but is done outside a formal tai chi or yoga class.

Instant Calming Sequence – is most useful when you are in a crisis as it helps lessen the negative effects from a stressful situation.

All these meditation techniques have one thing in common – to produce a calming effect and the technique you use is a matter of personal choice.

Meditation Guide

Meditation is a mind discipline where we attempt to go beyond thinking or conditioning and onto a deeper awareness or relaxation. Different methods in meditation are used but at the core of each is the objective of quieting and focusing the mind.

When you have progressed and become an expert in meditation, you will find it easy to meditate anytime and anywhere you want. You will have an inner calm and easily control your emotions  and increase awareness of thoughts no matter what it is that is going on around you.

Here are a few simple, basic steps for you to follow:

Set a time – You must follow a daily routine for meditating as you will gain most out of it when done regularly.  Depending on your personal needs, meditation can be done any time of the day, although most people do it first thing in the morning or before they retire at night.

Find a relaxing environment – Find a place that is free from distractions. Turn your phone, radio, or TV off. If you want, you could play a low volume repetitive music in the background. You could also meditate outdoors but make sure you are far from a busy roadway.

Have level grounds to sit on – If the ground is uncomfortable, you could sit on a cushion. Sit in a relaxed position with your legs crossed and your arms rested either on your lap or to the side. Keep your back straight to optimize breathing. Do not adopt unusual postures.

Feel for “unrelaxed” parts of your body – Every part of your body has to be relaxed and you have to feel for anything that does not feel comfortable then you should adjust your posture until everything feels just right. There must be no presence of tension.

Concentrate on your breathing – Listen to your breathing, to stop you from thinking about anything else. Once you feel your nerves have settled recite a mantra (saying a sacred word repeatedly) or a verse from the bible. If you are a beginner, you could start by just counting your breathe from 1 to 10 over and over. You could also utter a single word like “Om” at a steady rhythm. Circumvent any images that try to intrude into your thoughts and visualize yourself in a calm, peaceful place.

Silence the mind – once your mind is focused on peaceful things, you have to focus it on nothing at all. Clear your mind of anything. This may sound simple but requires tremendous discipline and is the pinnacle in meditation. This approach is simply focusing on one thing then letting it go without thinking of it as good or bad. Approach every thought that comes to your mind in this manner until only silence remains.

This is just one of the simple methods for meditating.  Anybody can use it at any place, anytime. Do not expect immediate results. The purpose of meditation is not to turn you into a Zen master but to free your mind from unhealthy thoughts