‘Meditation' is a word that has a loose meaning and a precise one. This causes some confusion as to what the real practice of meditation is. Some use the term to refer to thinking or contemplating. Others use it to refer to daydreaming or fantasizing.
The precise meaning of meditation is neither of these.
Meditation is a precise technique for putting the mind at rest and reaching a state of consciousness that is very different from the normal waking state. It helps us understand ourselves and our consciousness.
Meditation is not directly associated with any religious practice. It is a science. This means that the process of meditation follows specific principles and gives results that can be tested.
When you meditate, the mind becomes silent. You lose focus on the external world and become concentrated on consciousness itself. It is a relaxed state.
Ever since we were kids, we have been taught to pay close attention to the outside world. No one emphasized looking within ourselves and concentrating on that. This produces a lack of self-understanding. Normally, a vast portion of our mind is dormant and asleep. Meditation helps us gain control over the mind as a whole.
The goal of meditation is to go beyond the mind and get in touch with our basic nature. This can bring peace and an inner state of contentment. The problem is that our minds are normally uncontrolled and undisciplined. It is very difficult to still the mind.
Meditation is a training of the mind. It trains you to let go of your biases. You become aware of the prejudices that your mind creates. It is a way of gaining self-knowledge.
Learning to Meditate
To learn to meditate, you must be able to become still. This begins with the body. Some people learn this by practicing yoga. In yoga, you practice keeping your head, neck, and trunk straight while sitting in a meditative posture. This posture takes some practice and should be assumed every day.
To meditate, you should find a quiet, uncluttered place where no one will disturb you. Sit on the floor with a cushion beneath you or in a firm chair. Straighten your back and close your eyes. Then, become aware of your body. Allow all of your muscles to relax except the ones that are holding up your head, neck, and back. You should do this slowly and enjoy the release of tension in your body. Meditation begins with this relaxation of the body and then moves on to thoughts.
Once your body is relaxed, focus on your breath. Take note of what part of your lungs are used in each breath. You should be breathing through your diaphragm and not your chest. Concentrate on your breath.
Meditation requires you to give your complete attention to some thing that you have picked. In our case, this thing is your breathing.
When you become aware of your breathing, you should not try to control it. Just become one with your breathing. While you are doing this, you may notice that your thoughts are turning to specific things and worries. They call on you to act and respond.
You should become aware of the restlessness of your mind. When you get this awareness, you should not react to your thoughts. You should just be aware of them from your inner being. You will now begin to notice that your thoughts will disappear.
Ordinarily, you would be making plans to respond to your thoughts and responding to them. Meditation teaches you to take an objective point of view on your thoughts. You are not your thoughts. You then will begin to experience inner joy and relief that in your true self you are not in unrest and in turmoil. This is sort of like a little vacation.
The vacation that you get from this experience is not an escape from the world. It is merely getting in touch with your inner being.
Meditation can help you give your attention more effectively and fully to the things that you do in life. It can help you learn to be open to things that are new as well.
Usually, you react to things that come before you in the same way that you react to your thoughts. You are controlled by the natural reactions of your mind in an automatic way. Meditation can help you clear your mind and see all of the possibilities that are available to you in a more full way. It allows you to deliberate in a creative way.
The Benefits of Meditation
Meditation can enhance your quality of life by improving your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. A lot of research has been done on meditation, and it has been shown that not just one technique is beneficial. Rather, a variety of techniques have been shown to give benefits.
Meditation Benefits The Brain
Meditation does not give you a route of escape from your problems. It rather helps us face them with your full being. Everyone deals with stress in their life, and this can lead to negative mood, anxiety, or chronic stress. Research has shown that meditation improves mood and memory, even if you are under a lot of pressure.
Meditation can help you stay focused. Research has shown that people who meditate easily process distracting thoughts and then quickly return to what they were focused on. This effect does not take many years to develop. A recent study shows that less than a week of meditation results in significant improvement of cognitive abilities.
Meditation also has positive results on some mental disorders. ADD, anxiety, and depression all have issues with distracting thoughts. Meditation can free you of detrimental thought patterns.
A surprising effect of meditation is that it actually makes your brain grow. You might think that having a bigger brain is not important, but the truth is that parts of your brain degrade with aging. This can cause a decline in cognitive abilities. Meditation can slow the thinning of brain tissue.
Meditation Benefits Your Body
Studies show that meditation can improve your immune response. One study showed that people who meditate who are given a flu shot produce more antibodies in their blood than people who don't meditate. This same study also showed that there was increased activity in areas of the brain associated with positive emotion in people who meditate.
Stress influences the ability of our immune system to fight off disease. The reduction in stress that comes from meditation can help improve the symptoms from a wide variety of conditions. These include heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, asthma, and allergies.
Research shows that meditation can have positive results on many health problems. In one study, it was shown that it can improve the effectiveness of medical treatment.
Meditation has been shown to increase mental alertness. It can sometimes act as a substitute for sleep.
Meditation can help reduce the effects of physical and emotional pain. Chronic physical pain can affect your mental health. Negative thoughts go along with the pain that can lead to stress. This in turn can lead to more problems. Research has shown that meditation can reduce the experience of pain by up to 50%.
Chronic physical pain can lead to problems with well-being. By meditating, people can learn to respond to pain in a healthier manner. When you train the mind, you have a choice about how you will experience things. When you learn that you are in control of your response, this can have a big effect on how you experience physical and emotional pain.
The Spiritual Benefits of Meditation
Meditation can help you get into the state of flow. The state of flow consists of a harmonious state with positive qualities, that brings you to a joyful state of being.
The state of flow includes the loss of self in the activity, being unaware of the passage of time, and a certain confidence. Meditation can help you attain this condition.
Meditation can also improve your powers of empathy. A particular kind of meditation, loving-kindness meditation, focuses on increasing your compassion for all living beings. When we gain knowledge of the suffering of others, we can work towards relieving them of it. This results in a more joyful state of being for ourselves.
Some people believe that meditation can lead a person to ultimate enlightenment. Through focus on your inner being, you gain insight into yourself and your deeper nature. This in turn can help you reveal the underlying nature of the universe. By removing the mental obstacles that divide us from the rest of the universe, we can become more connected to the whole.
The benefits of this awakening include a better understanding of our purpose, a feeling of completeness, and an enriched sort of self-knowledge.
Meditation is something that comes naturally to many people because it gets you in touch with your true inner self. With all of the benefits that we have seen that meditation has, it is worthwhile to give it a try.