If you’re a beginner to the practice of meditation, these steps will help you on your way to developing this beneficial practice.
Meditation refers to a state of deep peace that entails thoughtful awareness. In meditation the mind is calm and silent, yet completely alert and focused only in the present moment.
Practitioners of meditation report increased awareness and concentration, decreased feelings of stress and a more positive outlook in life. Many people have developed a practice of meditation as part of their journey to reach their full human potential. The benefits I have experienced from meditation in my own life are remarkable.
Long ago, meditation was mainly associated with monks, mystics and other spiritual disciplines. However, you don’t have to be a monk or mystic to enjoy its benefits. And you don’t even have to be in a special place to practice it. You can practice it in a variety of places.
Studies have shown that meditation does bring about beneficial physiologic effects to the body and by extension- your life. There has been a growing consensus in the medical community about the benefits of meditation with stress reduction, heart health, anxiety disorders, weight loss, hypertension and a host of other health concerns.
Although there are many different approaches to meditation, the fundamental principles remain the same. The most important among these principles is that of allowing obstructive, negative or wandering thoughts to just come and pass through the mind. Focus on calming the mind with a goal of clearing any troubling thoughts or worries. When you just allow different thoughts to flow through and leave your mind without resistance or admonishment for having the thoughts, it helps to clear the mind of chatter and debris. This helps set a foundation to build a higher quality meditation session.
All negative thoughts we have – the harsh or difficult boss or coworkers, negative self-talk, lack and limitation beliefs, relationship challenges, etc., are said to be the main contributors to the ‘polluting’ of our mind. An established meditation practice allows for the ‘cleansing’ of our mind so that we are able to focus on a more deeper and meaningful level of existence.
Some meditation practitioners choose to shut out all sensory input – no sights, no sounds, and nothing to touch while they detach themselves from the commotion around them. The quiet of sensory deprivation may seem deafening at first, since we all are accustomed to constantly hearing and seeing things. As you continue this exercise, you will find yourself becoming aware of spiritual connections of all things around and within you while experiencing the surrounding stillness.
If you find some of the poses found in different meditation practices daunting or difficult due to physical limitations, you need not worry. The goal here is to be in a comfortable position conducive to your practice. This may be while sitting cross-legged, sitting up in a comfortable chair, lying down, sitting in your car doing a quick ‘power’ session at lunch, at the beach or even sitting on the bank of a beautiful flowing river. If the position allows you to relax and focus, then it works.
The place you perform meditation should have a calm atmosphere. You may want to use an exercise or yoga mat if you plan on sitting somewhere on a floor. You may want to have your place of meditation arranged so that it is soothing to the senses. Many people set an atmosphere with calming meditation music, beautifully scented essential oil soy candles or handmade incense specifically for meditation practice.
How To Begin
When starting your session, your back should be as straight as possible, but without tension or feeling tight or rigid. When possible, wearing loose, comfortable clothing will help you to relax.
Silence helps some people relax more easily, so finding a quiet, isolated space away from ringing phones, honking horns, the hum of a washing machine or children playing will help.
Even though some of us have experienced or have seen people chanting during specific types of meditation, this is not necessary. If you want to just focus on breathing, that is perfectly fine. You could start by focusing on a profound short affirmation or a single word if this is your goal. The idea here is to develop your practice in a way that is most beneficial to you. Any of these types of actions can be done as long as it achieves the purpose of inducing a deep and calming meditative state.
One sample routine you may want to try when beginning your practice is to silently go through each part of your body and tense and hold the muscles associated with each individual part. Holding for a count of five, then gently releasing the muscles of each group as you go through and repeat the process while you work your way up the body. You should start to feel each area of your body releasing any held tension. Visualize each muscle group releasing held-in stress.
In all, meditation is a relatively risk-free practice and its benefits are well worth the effort (or non-effort – remember, we’re relaxing!).
Do you practice meditation? What were some of the benefits you’ve noticed in your own life? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below.