The word meditation has come to have a variety of meanings. For some, meditation can be prayer, visualisation techniques, contemplation, or simply achieving a state of peace. People will even refer to daydreaming as meditation. But, true meditation began as, and still is, a process or discipline. It provides not just momentary peace or insight, but is life and mind-transforming over time.
Many people view the Eastern practice of meditating as a spiritual discipline and therefore a religious practice. Religion actually has nothing to do with meditation. It needn’t have anything to do with Gods or spirits. A Christian or Muslim can get the same benefits as a Hindu or Buddhist. It’s about achieving clarity of mind. This has nothing to do with developing your willpower or concentration. True meditation is the opposite. It’s about keen awareness and the free flow of energy (prayana) through the breath. Thoughts and objectives are obstacles.
You can think of the frame of mind in heightened consciousness as a lamp. No matter what’s in the room, it’s meaningless without the light. You’re focused on the lamp, not the objects. You don’t meditate on things, but the self. These objects could be emotions, random thoughts, mental pictures, or your own needs and loved ones that are always on your mind. The goal of meditation is to set aside all of this and achieve mental purity. It conditions you to become aware of yourself and where you are now. It’s not even about attaining serenity. Meditation is all about stillness and openness. It isn’t about blankness. It’s about supreme awareness.
Benefits of meditation
Regular meditation has many benefits that continue on in your non-meditative, daily activities. Meditation reduces anxiety and stress, which are known to cause a number of mental and physical issues. With reduced stress, you are able to slow down ageing while improving your cardiovascular and immune systems. As you gain the ability to eliminate intrusive thoughts from your psyche, it improves your ability to focus on tasks or events for more complete immersion and satisfaction. This sense of stillness you gain with meditation stays with you to keep you more mentally and emotionally balanced, more accepting, and more content.
An important part of traditional meditative techniques is the idea of the body’s seven chakras (also see this chakra chart). These are points of energy at the base of the spine, abdomen, solar plexus, heart, throat, forehead, and top of the head through which your physical and spiritual energies flow. Each is associated with certain colors, foods, body parts, moods and thoughts, and more. A focus on charging and opening these central points of energy will help to keep your mind and body balanced. While you can focus on any one as indicated by your troubles, a classic meditation is to begin at the root, or spine chakra, and charge each one as your awareness moves up your spine to the top of your head, or crown chakra.
As mentioned, the energy you need is drawn in through the breath (prayana). When you wish to start meditating, seat yourself in a way that’s comfortable to you. You can lie down, but you’ll become so comfortable you’re liable to fall asleep! Keep you back straight and begin breathing in deeply and slowly through your nose. Breathe out naturally through the mouth. You should feel the breaths in your throat. Try to extend the breaths to be slower and more complete, including using your diaphragm at the end of a breath. Pay attention to your prayana. Experience it. Other thoughts will naturally intrude, but just try to shut them out and keep going. With practice, you’ll find yourself meditating longer and more smoothly.
There are many meditation techniques. You can even buy audio recordings to help you stay focused. In any case, the most important thing is to get started and stick with it so you can make positive changes.
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Author: Dixie Somers
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband. Dixie can be found on Facebook!