For centuries, meditation techniques has been an integral part of daily life for many civilizations and now valid, mainstream research supports its effectiveness for healing and overall well-being. Many societies have used meditation to remain physically, spiritually and mentally healthy since practically the beginning of time. Many people advocate teaching meditation techniques in school because children who meditate tend to be more emotionally intelligent and developmentally mature than those who do not.
There are several different methods of meditation, most of which vary mostly just in the way in which you clear your mind. After you’re focused, it’s simply a matter of disciplining yourself to remain that way for a pre-determined amount of time. Over the next few paragraphs, we’re going to discuss two of the most common meditation techniques used by beginners today so that you may choose which one is right for you.
Hugely popular in Hollywood with such stars as Goldie Hawn, mindfulness meditation is probably the most popular form of meditation but that doesn’t mean that it’s the ONLY way or the RIGHT way. Remember that meditation is all about what works best for you. If this is the best way for you to find your center and clear your mind then so be it, but if something else works better for you, then go for it.
The purpose of mindfulness meditation is to increase your awareness of the sensations that surround you. You simply sit quietly and let thoughts, feelings and images float through your head without focusing on them or reacting to them. You do the same with everything external; sounds, smells and feelings are happening and you’re aware of them, but you don’t react to them. This method, once you master it, will give you an intense feeling of clarity and “connectedness”.
This method may be easiest for you if you have difficulty blocking out external factors such as noises because you’re just concentrating on your own breathing. This is often a good way to calm down if you find yourself in a high-stress situation or if you’re experiencing anxiety because one of the physiological responses to stress is rapid breathing. If you can control your breathing, you can often reduce your anxiety levels right along with it.
To practice concentrative meditation, simply find yourself a quiet place and sit in a position that you can comfortably maintain. Usually a cross-legged position with your hands on your knees or folded in front of you works well. Once you’re comfortable, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Concentrate on taking slow, deep breaths and try to keep your mind trained only on that. This will help you become still and will help you develop inner clarity. It is extremely calming.
A Few Pointers
You’ll probably have a bit of difficulty focusing when you first begin meditating but stick with it. Here are a few tips to help you get in the groove:
- Have a set time each day – Meditating at the same time each day will help you to develop a routine
- Don’t skip days – It may be easy once you start reaping the benefits of meditation to believe that you don’t really need it. Not true. Meditate every day.
- Don’t stop early – One of the primary reasons to meditate is to develop mental control and if you allow your brain to quit early, you’re defeating the purpose.
- Make a Meditation Area – Having a designated area to meditate will help get your mind in the groove. When you go there, your body will begin to automatically calm and prepare to meditate. Also, after a while, you’ll begin to notice positive energy in that area, even when you’re not meditating.
- Don’t Try to Force Calm – It’s common, and normal, for your mind to wander in the beginning of your meditation session. Just let it happen because trying to force the issue will just cause stress. Relax, concentrate on your mantra, or your breathing, or your Om and let your mind clear itself.
These are just a few of the ways that you can get started with your meditation routine. There are no set-in-stone rules because each person is different. Remember, meditation is a gift of inner peace and clarity so don’t think of it as a chore. Relax, unwind and just enjoy existing!
Subject expert Dr. Bernie Siegel discusses his reasons for meditating and also offers some useful tips and ideas about how to calm your mind and heal your body in his video, How do Meditation techniques and Relaxation Impact the Brain and Healing. It’s well worth the read.