Training the mind by way of meditation is similar to keeping the body fit by exercising. The mind is a muscle and can be exercised, but it requires work and effort. Meditation seems difficult at first, especially when people don’t know how to approach it. People can’t just sit down, close their eyes, and tune out the world like a practicing monk on the first go-around.
What Is Meditation?
First off, meditation isn’t magic and you don’t have to belong to any religion to practice meditation. Meditation is to practicing Buddhists what sports are to Americans; it is an umbrella term that involves many variations and practices. There are various styles of meditation, all of which involve training the mind and focusing on breath. Researchers have studied meditation and concluded that regular practice helps to lower heart rate, reduce anxiety and stress, improve sleep, lower blood pressure, and increase circulation.
When you start meditating, you will inevitably have thoughts come crashing into your mind like waves on the sand. Mindfulness meditation encourages people to follow wandering thoughts. The goal behind this is to teach people to not get involved with their thoughts and remain judgment-free. Become aware of the each thought and follow it out of the mind. This practice can help people identify changes in mood or make them more aware of human tendencies.
This type of meditation involves focusing on a single point, be it an affirmation, mantra, candle flame, or your own breath. It is difficult to focus the mind without wandering off to other thoughts or fantasies, but you can easily identify when your mind begins to wander by focusing on a single object. Don’t pursue these thoughts; simply let them go in order to improve overall concentration.
Transcendental Meditation (TM)
This specific form of silent meditation involves the use of a silent mantra, and it is practiced for 15-20 minutes twice daily. The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi created the TM technique and movement in India in the mid-1950s. He taught thousands of people from 1958 to 1965, and millions of people worldwide began practicing TM by the early 2000s. It is a non-religious movement that helps reduce stress, develop the self, and aid with natural relaxation.
How To Meditate
Step 1: Find A Place To Sit
You don’t need to purchase a fancy pillow or feng shui a room in your house for an optimal meditation session. You can sit in a public park or quiet room in your house. If you experience back pain, the support of a chair or cushion may be useful. You can also lie comfortably if that is more feasible.
Step 2: Body Positioning
The common image of a meditating person is sitting in the lotus position surrounded by candles. That’s not you and you shouldn’t try to be that when you first start meditating. Find a position that feels comfortable. Keeping the back straight is a priority, but sit or lay down (as we previously mentioned) in a position that doesn’t cause back pain. Close your eyes and start breathing, making no effort to control your breath. Just breath naturally.
Step 3: The Process Of Meditating
People are lost in thought every day, even if they don’t know it. The idea behind meditation is to quiet the mind and focus your attention on the present moment. How do you do this? Well, now it is time to focus on the breath. Your breath is a constant and you follow it with each inhale and exhale. As you inhale, feel the air fill your chest and up into your head. Let the breath go and expel the carbon dioxide from your body. As you continue this deep breathing technique, you may notice that your fingers start to tingle, or that you feel a little light-headed. You are flooding the body with oxygen and paying attention to the present moment, and this is good!
Step 4: Waking Up
As you take your last breath, fully exhale and sit in the moment before opening your eyes. You don’t need to move right away; rather, you can sit there with your eyes open until you are ready to stand back up and resume your day.
For beginners, start meditating for five minutes at a time. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew by attempting to meditate for 20 minutes on your first try. With each passing day, you can meditate for a minute or so longer. A 20-minute meditation session per day is more than sufficient and you should have the goal to master those 20 minutes.