Meditation is a powerful psychosomatic exercise, which influences both body and mind. It relieves stress, assuages anxiety, clears the mind, and calms the body. But more importantly, meditation cultivates focus and patience. It increases the distance between emotion and response, allowing practitioners to control and mediate their reactions to everyday highs and lows.
Meditation helps bring the world into objective focus, releasing us from immediate attachments to superfluous externalities and giving us something like a bird’s-eye-view of our own conscious experience. In doing all this, meditation heightens perception and quiets the chaos of our increasingly hectic and fast-paced world. And while it is contradictory to speak of a single correct way to meditate (the process is, and should be, unique for everyone), there are numerous ways to improve the experience and utilize the practice to its utmost.
Find the Right Space
Above all, it should be quiet. Though absolute silence is unnecessary, the ambience should be monotonous and soothing. Peaceful natural settings are always excellent places to meditate, but an empty room with soft music (without lyrics) is equally suitable. Earplugs may also help tune out distractions. In addition to sound, the space should also be free of all other distractions and the threat of interruption.
Enter meditation gradually. Start by releasing tension in your body. Stretch while focusing on your breath, and slowly drift into a relaxed state of body and mind. Yoga is also a great pre-meditation exercise.
One important aspect of meditation is learning to find a comfortable position in an otherwise uncomfortable, static pose. Help yourself by wearing loose clothing, getting to an agreeable temperature, removing shoes, and sitting on a cushion or plush carpet.
Set a Timer
When first starting, it helps to set a meditation schedule. Decide how long you want to practice (start at ten minutes and gradually increase to an hour or more) and set a timer to alert you when to finish. It also helps to meditate at fixed times every day. Early morning and before bed are ideal, but any habitually convenient time will work.
Positioning Your Body
Sitting cross-legged in the lotus or half-lotus pose with hands on knees is the traditional meditation position, but it is by no means essential. Good posture and prolonged stillness are the only requirements. So sitting with bent knees or lying flat on your back are viable meditation positions. But guard against falling asleep!
Patience is by far the most important part of meditation. Don’t worry about doing it wrong. Don’t let doubt creep in. Don’t get frustrated or bored. Be patient.
If patience is the first necessity, persistence is second. Mediation is a slow process of mental purification and refinement. The results will come, but only if meditation is a daily part of your life. Commit for the long haul and trust in the process of learning to be comfortable with yourself.
Don’t try to attain anything; don’t have goals or aims to strive for; and don’t question whether it is working. If you are meditating, it is working.
Controlled breath is a cornerstone of meditation. Feel the breath come in, entering your nose or mouth, being drawn through your nasal passage, down your throat, and into your chest. Then feel it release as your chest and stomach contract. Slow your breath, establish regular rhythm, and feel your body change and relax as the breath comes under your conscious control.
Empty the Mind
Meditation is a practice of controlling and silencing the ego. Every time a random thought pops into your head, silence it. Think about only your breath: the feeling of it entering and leaving you. Allow nothing else to creep in. (Note: this is quite difficult, and requires assiduous focus. But it gets easier with practice.)
With a little practice, you’ll be amazed at how profoundly quieting the mind affects the body. Muscle relaxation and feelings of euphoria increase in proportion to the amount of silence you can cultivate mentally. Focus, awareness, and self-observation are the cornerstones of meditation practice. But these can only be achieved by releasing conscious thought. With dedication, mediation eventually leads to inexplicable epiphanies that occur in a space beyond language or thought. You’ll be surprised what you can learn when you stop thinking.
By the Lifestyle bloggers at The Mirror who enjoy writing about all things from happy living to horoscopes.