Why anyone and everyone can benefit whichever technique you use…
It’s an incredible thought that some form of meditation technique is being practiced in nearly every single community in the world, as we speak.
Meditation was and still is, an essential part of Eastern spiritual traditions such as Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism, as well as Christian and other spiritual traditions whereby aspects of silent, spoken or chanted prayer, are used.
With or without the religious context, meditation focuses on self-awareness and actualization and is used to promote a sense of well-being.
Meditation has now hit the mainstream, and as a result, it’s been defined in a variety of ways – moment-to-moment awareness, being in the here and now, and relaxing into the present.
We have come to equate meditation with ‘good feeling’ emotions such as joy, happiness, and relaxation.
Many kinds of meditation techniques exist today, and they have potentially different benefits…
Many people focus on the physical benefits of mediation, such as improved sleep patterns, a better immune system, the ability to concentrate more, perhaps less stress, a higher pain tolerance, for example.
Others may be more interested in the psychological benefits, such as increased empathy, patience, focus, and so on.
Another benefit that inspires people to meditate can be a spiritual reason – the mental space to go deeper into their faith, to acquire a greater sense of connection, and an opportunity to explore the non-material aspects of life are just a few facets of the spiritual dimension.
Whatever the meditation technique you personally use, the outcome is reputedly the same – a charge is generated within your body, and every cell is energized.
So, what is Mediation?
Literally, millions of people use meditation every day to help them with everything from stress to managing their job.
But what is it and is it really useful?
Meditation is a simple practice which is accessible to everyone and is reputed to reduce stress, create calmness and clarity as well as promote happiness.
It’s basically the practice of taking time to empty your mind by focussing on your breathing and letting go of any thoughts or emotions – being in the moment.
Meditation forces you to disidentify with your mind and your emotions – anyone with conscious awareness can do it, and you can do it anywhere – on a crowded bus, in your bedroom, in a monastery – the benefits are innumerable, and there are no side effects.
Putting it merely, setting aside time for meditation is seen as an essential emotional, mental, and physical health tool, and for it to work effectively, it is the necessary way to establish a regular routine and getting comfortable with the practice.
Your mind is a muscle, so think of your mind as a gym.
There appear to be many different techniques of meditation, and although meditating on your own is thought to be an essential part of the complete practice, having the guidance of a teacher can also be invaluable, particularly if you’re new to the techniques.
There are dozens of different styles and techniques for mediation.
There is no one right or wrong technique; they are just different and work in different ways for different people.
The fact that there are so many different varieties of meditation implies there is a form of meditation that can suit everybody, regardless of their lifestyle or personality.
Meditation is whatever forces you to focus your thoughts and emotions and to let them go and to concentrate instead on your own awareness and if that includes mantras, yoga, counting breaths, chanting, or different rituals, so be it…
We live is a stressful world where sometimes our senses are often dulled, meditation, which offers relaxation and heightened awareness, can’t be a bad thing.
What Techniques Are Out There?
Meditation is really a blanket term for the many different ways to enable a relaxed state of being. Still, whichever technique appeals to you is usually because of having the shared goal of inner peace.
However, the list of literally hundreds of different meditation techniques, at first glance, appears to be extremely long.
The list is long and varied because people are complicated and varied – there is no ‘one size fits all’ meditation approach that works.
Meditation is an extremely personal experience, and what may be relaxing for someone may be irritating for another.
Some people find it quite challenging to turn the off their minds, so guided meditations are a great option because they allow your mind to go on a path of self-exploration.
For many, mediation is really hard to do, and it doesn’t take long before they have given up – they find trying to empty their minds of ‘thought-vomit’ extremely difficult, if not impossible.
So, different meditation techniques have evolved as a result of learning what works for some and doesn’t for others.
Music, while meditating, for instance, works for some people but is distracting and irritating for others.
Other people love movement, and there are meditations such as Bio Danza or five rhythms, as well as yoga, which is more suitable for them.
Sitting down and trying to shut off your thoughts is extremely hard for many people – it certainly isn’t a case of sitting down, closing your eyes, and trying to do something called meditation which means all your thoughts are going to stop instantly! They won’t! You’ll find your mind will continue to think – it’s a matter of allowing your thoughts just to come and go…
Sound baths, gong baths, or breath-work works for many people who find it hard to shut out their minds in a vacuum – the sound acts as a sort of interlude between you and them, which allows you to shut off more completely.
Mediation is a very varied discipline which is drawn from many different religions and cultures, and not everyone will respond well to every form – your first experiences of meditation, for example, may have been bad – it’s a matter of finding a meditation technique that works for you – practice and perseverance are key.
There are a plethora of forms of mediation to try – everything from reiki to shamanic healing. Still, the general consensus is that regardless of which technique works best for you, without regular practice, it’s not worth trying at all.
Different times in your life also can affect what kind of meditation technique would suit you – it’s therefore important to experiment with different varieties of techniques until you find one that suits you the most.
The most common types of meditation techniques include:
- Breathing Meditations
- Loving-kindness mediation – also known as Metta mediation, and its goal is to develop a kind and loving attitude towards everything, even enemies.
- Mindfulness Meditations – this is to encourage an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the moment. With this technique, you focus on your breathing and observe your emotions and thoughts but without fixating on them.
- Focus Meditations – for example, just to focus on breathing and to ignore all thoughts that enter the mind.
- Movement Meditation or Walking Meditations – such as Kundalini yoga or Tai Chi. The concept of walking meditation is to walk in silence as you observe everything that is going on all around you.
- Mantra Meditations – with the method, you silently repeat a calming word, thought, or phrase to prevent upsetting or distracting thoughts.
- Buddhist – Zen meditation/Christian/Spiritual Meditations
- Guided Meditations – also known as guided imagery or visualization, whereby you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing.
- Transcendental Meditations – this is when you silently repeat a personally assigned mantra such as a word, phrase, or sound in a particular way. The goal is to transcend or rise above the person’s current state of being.
- Progressive Relaxation Meditations – also known as body scan meditations, which encourage people to scan their bodies for areas of tension. Some forms of this mediation require people to tense and then relax muscles to relax the body slowly.
If you are able to use a mediation technique to train your mind to prune and hone your thoughts, and to focus only on what’s useful and important and to disregard the rest, to separate your ego and identity from the thoughts and emotions which are running through your head – then it sounds as though the meditation technique you are using, works for you…
As practitioner and author, Chade-Meng Tan describes as ‘the sacred pause,’ whichever way you feel works best for you when meditating is the technique you should stick with – there’s no right or wrong way.
So, whether we are breathing deeply, sitting in meditation, or just moving mindfully through each day, we are in effect building our ability to observe our body sensations, voice-tracks, and emotions without responding.
There’s a range of practices which range from the informal to the formal that can help us strengthen this skill.
The Benefits of Meditation…
The point of mediation and finding the technique that is most suitable for you is to find the end-goal of relaxation and of living in the moment.
Whichever technique you may meditate with should enable you to:
- Focus your attention. Focusing your attention is really one of the most important elements of meditation.
By focusing your attention helps free your mind from the many interruptions and disturbances that cause pressure on you and create worry. When you meditate you can focus your attention on such things as a specific object, an image, a mantra, as well as your breathing.
- Relaxed breathing. This method involves deep, even-paced breathing techniques using the diaphragm muscle to expand your lungs. The point is to slow your breathing and to take in more oxygen. This will do along way to reducing the use of shoulder, neck, and upper chest muscles while breathing so that you breathe more effectively, enhancing relaxation and calm.
- A quiet setting. It is essential to obtain full benefits, and meditation may be a lot easier if you’re in a quiet place with few distractions, which includes no television, radios, or mobile phones.
As you get more experienced at meditation, you may be able to do it anywhere, even in high-stress situations where you can benefit the most from meditation, such as traffic jams, a stressful work meeting, or a long queue.
- A comfortable position. You can practice meditation regardless of what position you are in. This could be sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions or activities.
- Just try to be comfortable so that you can get the most out of your meditation experience. Try and aim for good posture throughout the meditation.
- Open attitude. It is essential to let thoughts go through your mind without judgment.
By being able to achieve the above means that during the process of meditation, accumulated stresses are banished, your energy is increased, and your health is positively affected.
Therefore, the term ‘meditation’ in itself appears to be loosely referred to as a number of diverse techniques that have the same end-goal – that of seeking inner peace.
Most of these techniques are relatively easy to learn and practice, and the more difficult ones need continuous perseverance but can be as equally successful.
Best Meditation Results
So, if you’ve tried meditation and you don’t think it really works, perhaps you need to try a different technique or look at the way you are actually practicing your chosen technique.
There are many reasons why people find the results are as good as the hype when it comes to meditation.
Judging yourself is a common mistake, as many people question whether they are meditating correctly or effectively.
Meditating when you’re sleepy or tired is also a common reason for people to give up as falling asleep when meditating is not the answer for a successful outcome!
The over-riding Result, in relation to which meditation techniques benefit participants the most, appears to be the different techniques have different effects on the individual’s emotional and cognitive skills, well-being as well as their brains!
The many different techniques practiced indicate successes for target areas such as stress, anxiety, depression, and if you are suffering from one of these afflictions, a more focussed, specific form of meditation could be the answer.
The answer is to try meditating, find a technique that you are comfortable with and suits you and your lifestyle, stick with it and you’ll find the beneficial results in a matter of weeks…
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