Meditation – What’s It All About?
The goal of meditation is to focus your mind, stop the racing thoughts and find inner calm.
How to Get the Most from Meditation
Commitment is necessary in order to get the most out of meditation. Â When you start meditating regularly, you can find many Â benefits â€” from better health to higher levels of satisfaction and happiness. Here are some tips for maximizing your meditation practice:
- Meditate regularly , at least once a day.
- Set aside a quiet place where you can meditate without being disturbed.
- Decide how long you’re going to meditate for beforehand and then follow through, no matter how restless or bored you become.
- Don’t sit on a full stomach â€” wait at least an hour after a meal before meditating.
- Find a comfortable sitting position â€” and be sure to gently straighten your spine.
- Rest your tongue lightly on the roof of your mouth and breathe through your nose.
- Take a few deep breaths before you start, and consciously relax your body on the exhalation.
- Drop any expectations about what you’re supposed to be achieving or experiencing, and just be, exactly as you are.
- As much as possible, extend the qualities of mind and heart you develop in your meditation to every area of your life.
Four Basic Ways to Practice Meditation
- Follow your breathÂ This is the most universal of all mindfulness techniques. First, exhale strongly a few times to clear the base of the lungs of carbon dioxide. It is helpful to review the technique for following theÂ deep breathing methodÂ of imagining a lotus blossom residing in your lower abdomen; as the breath fills the belly, the petals of the blossom expand; as you exhale, the petals close back up.
- Observe an icon or objectÂ Allow your mind to rest lightly on an object. If you come from the Christian tradition, this might be an image of Christ, the Virgin Mary or the Holy Spirit.
If you are inspired by Eastern spiritual traditions, you might reflect upon an image or icon of the Buddha. You can also use a flower, crystal, or other object that has meaning for you. Lightly allow your attention to sit there, quietly and peacefully.
- Recite a mantraÂ A mantra literally means “that which protects the mind.” So reciting a mantra protects you with spiritual power. It is also said that when you chant a mantra, you are charging your breath and energy with the energy of the mantra. Again, choose something with meaning for you within your spiritual tradition: recite the Rosary, for example. Tibetan Buddhists use a mantra for peace, healing, transformation and healing. “Recite the mantra quietly, with deep attention, and let your breath, the mantra and your awareness become slowly one,” writes Rinpoche.
- Do a Guided Meditation.Â Guided meditation is akin to guided imagery, a powerful technique that focuses and directs the imagination toward a conscious goal. (Think of a diver imagining a “perfect dive” before he leaves the platform.) Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk who is a scholar, poet, peace activist and author. He suggests trying a very simple â€” yet profound â€” guided meditation that you can learn by yourself.
Popular Meditation Techniques
Meditation techniques tend to be relatively simple. Here is a brief list of the most commonly practiced ones. You can use one exclusively, experiment with several, or try one for a few months and then switch to a different technique.
- Repeating a meaningful word or phrase, known as a mantra
- Following or counting your breaths
- Paying attention to the sensations in your body
- Cultivating love, compassion, forgiveness, and other healing emotions
- Concentrating on a geometric shape or other simple visual object
- Visualizing a peaceful place or a healing energy or light
- Reflecting upon inspirational or sacred writings
- Gazing at a picture of a holy being or saint
- Contemplating the beauty to be found in nature, art, or music
- Bringing mindful awareness to the present moment
Be aware that changing techniques frequently makes it hard to reap the full range of benefits you can realize by using a consistent technique for a period of time â€” a few weeks to a month at least.
What meditation offers you
- Better focus
- Less anxiety
- More creativity
- More compassion
- Less stress
- Better memory
As a result, meditation helps you to see yourself and everyone around you from a clearer perspective, while simultaneously being more present, compassionate and empathetic with people no matter the situation. With time and practice, people can become calmer, have a greater capacity for empathy and respond in a more balanced way to experiences, people or events in their lives.