Meditation is very often misunderstood. It has been associated with all sorts of “New Age” thinking; Occult Practise and much hullaballoo. Here is my take on this.
Meditation refers to a state where your body and mind are consciously relaxed and focused. There are various forms of meditation, however today I am referring to the simple mindful meditation process. People who practice meditation report increased awareness, focus, and concentration, as well as a more positive outlook in life. I can personally vouch for this as I have practiced meditation daily for almost a year following my burnout and the results speak for themselves.
Meditation is most commonly associated with monks, mystics and other spiritual disciplines. However, you don’t have to be a monk or mystic to enjoy its benefits. And you don’t even have to be in a special place to practice it. You could even try it in your own home. Right now there are numerous apps and online programs to guide you through basic meditations. A quick search online will get you started in no time.
Although there are many different approaches to meditation, the fundamental principles remain the same. The most important among these principles is that of removing obstructive, negative, and wandering thoughts and fantasies, and calming the mind with a deep sense of focus. This clears the mind of debris and prepares it for a higher quality of activity. In doing so we train our minds and we can control our thoughts when our thoughts no longer serve us.
One might have negative thoughts about your work overload, over-bearing boss, social media bombardment, traffic congestion or any other thought that does not bring you a sense of calm or control. Through mindful meditation, you can learn to notice these negative thoughts and choose to dwell on them or let them pass and change your thinking. For me, I like noticing the “spam” thoughts and replacing them with more meaningful thoughts.
One does not need to assume the typical meditation pose that is commonly associated with the traditional Eastern Meditation. Whilst there might be some benefit of adopting that pose (I have not explored this) I find that for me the key principle is to be in a comfortable position conducive to concentration. This may be while sitting cross-legged, standing, lying down, and even walking.
If the position allows you to relax and focus, then that would be a good starting point. While sitting or standing, the back should be straight, but not tense or tight. In other positions, the only no-no is slouching and falling asleep.
Loose, comfortable clothes help a lot in the process since tight-fitting clothes tend to choke you up and make you feel tense.
The place you perform meditation should have a soothing atmosphere. It may be in your living room, or bedroom, or any place that you feel comfortable in. You might want an exercise mat if you plan to take on the more challenging positions (if you feel more focused doing so, and if the contortionist in you is screaming for release). You may want to have the place arranged so that it is soothing to your senses.
Silence helps most people relax and meditate so you may want a quiet, isolated area far from the ringing of the phone or the humming of the washing machine. Pleasing scents also help in that regard, so stocking up on aromatic candles isn’t such a bad idea either.
The principle of mindful meditation is simply to control your focus. You could try focusing on a certain object or thought, or even, while keeping your eyes open, focus on a single sight. Personally, I find that simply observing my breath as it flows in and out is one of the fastest ways for me to experience an energy shift. I would describe an energy shift as a change in thoughts, feelings, and emotions. For example, if I am feeling anxious, I will meditate to bring about a sense of calmness and control, that would be my energy shift.
One sample routine would be to while in a meditative state silently name every part of your body and focusing your consciousness on that part. While doing this you should be aware of any tension on any part of your body. Mentally visualize releasing this tension. It works wonders. Start at the top of your head and do a full body scan right down to the tip of your toes.
In all, meditation is a relatively risk-free practice and its benefits are well worth the effort (or non-effort remember we’re relaxing).
Studies have shown that meditation does bring about beneficial physiologic effects to the body. And there has been a growing consensus in the medical community to further study the effects of such. So, do not wait any longer, start now in creating your health and well-being…start meditating today!
If you are still unsure of where to start or you would like to know more about mindfulness meditation, then please get in touch with me.