What is meditation
According to Dr. Joan Borysenko, a pioneer in the field of mind/body medicine, in her Beginner's Guide to Meditation, meditation means being 'pleasantly anchored in the present moment'. With the hectic lifestyle people live in today, stress is a strong contributor to heart disease and high blood pressure. This is why it is important to learn to relax and relax our body. And this can be achieved through meditation. Meditation is easy for us to incorporate into our lives.
Meditation is becoming more and more popular every day and there is a reason behind this. Scientists study it, doctors recommend it and millions of people all over the world practice it every day. Why? Because meditation works. Meditation is not just a matter of belief or disbelief. Meditation can improve our achievements and it can help us we can develop hidden talents and capabilities that we had forgotten we possess. Achieve more with less effort - that is the essence of Meditation.
Meditations can completely relax our body and mind and it can also make our brain more alert and make our heart relax. It refreshes us completely and gets us ready for another batch of work. It also helps us block out any distractions that may come across our way.
There are three principles that form meditation:
- To be able to concentrate, we need to focus on one thing or object at a time.
- As soon as our thoughts start to wander, we gently bring them back to our focus object.
- During meditation, we need to ignore any distracting, irrelevant thoughts and sensations.
When we meditate regularly, we will apply these principles with each and any additional thought.
Types of meditation
Using meditation you can employ the connection between the mind and the body to achieve specific developmental goals. Meditation is particularly good in reducing the stress that you encounter and develop in everyday life. When you decide to make meditation a regular part of your life, you need to decide which type of meditation technique and or philosophy best suits you. If you wish to learn more about Transcendental Meditation then check this page.
How you mediate can mean the difference between trying to become detached from your stress or from trying to build on the problems that are stressing you to form the basis of personal growth, often in a creative way.
There are many types of meditation, some ancient, some newer, each with its own, different style. Meditation teachers classify meditation as focusing on four different ways:
- Focused on Concentration - this means basically focusing your attention on one object only. Totally concentrating on it. For example, concentrating on the flame of a candle, or simply focusing on your breath. See my Concentration example
- Focused on Generation (generative meditation). This type of meditation helps you meditate to achieve a state of loving kindness by using your memory, your imagination and the sensations of your body.
- Focused on Receptivity (receptive meditation). This means basically becoming receptive to any experience arising. An example of this is the zen meditation, zazen.
- Focused on Reflection (reflective meditation). This meditation type involves constantly focusing on an object, but also being aware to whatever emotions, feelings and sensations come forth from the experience. Meditation on the qualities of the Buddha is a good example of this.
Click Here for free lessons on Meditation Techniques and Yoga.
When to meditate, how often, and for how long
Three questions asked by those who are starting out with meditation are:
- When is best to meditate?
- How often a day to meditate?
- How long to meditate for?
Different people approach meditation in different ways, at different rates and times. Depending on how busy the day is: if you're a stay-at-home person, or have a full-time job; If you start you work at 6 am, or 8 am, or just work in the afternoon; If you have children, or not. However, there are some rules, or rather guidelines, that are good to follow, when you decide to set aside some time for meditation, regardless of your life/lifestyle circumstances.
- Try to meditate twice a day. In the morning, after your morning routine, but before you really start your day, and in the evening, just before retreating to bed. Don't try to meditate in the bed, as you'll fall asleep right away, as you're too comfortable there, and usually for our subconscious mind, bed = sleep.
- If you cannot meditate twice a day, at least try to get a meditation schedule in the morning, before starting your day. This clears your mind from the night before, and gives you the freshness and zest to have a great day. It really starts you on the right foot.
- Put aside about 15 minutes for each meditation session, if you can handle more, all the better. Some people make a practice of meditating 1 hour per session, however if you only want to meditate to relieve stress, clear your mind and live a healthy life, and you are not interested in making meditation a major part of your daily routine, then there is no reason to go overboard with it. 15-20 minutes per session can be sufficient.
- During weekends, however, try to meditate for longer periods of time. One hour per session would be optimal. Meditating for longer during the weekend, when you may have more time, can help you go into deeper states.
There is a misconception that the longer you meditate the better it is. However, this is not true. What makes it successful is the consistency, regularity of practice. So whether you close your eyes for 10 minutes, meditate for 20 minutes, or one hour, the sessions should equally help you if you do it every day, preferably at the same times each day, so your body adjusts to this rhythm. Our yoga guide book site gives you information on how to use yoga as an aid to meditation.
A final note on the times of the day. Our bodies are all different, and what works for most of us, might not work for all. As your body and mind can be different throughout the day, it's best to try various times to see what works for you. I have a friend who is always meditating at 6 pm, shortly after going home from work. This late afternoon meditation clears his mind off the stress from work, and sets it to enjoy the rest of the evening with his family.
Our yoga guide book site gives you information on how to use yoga as an aid to meditation.