Introduction to Meditation
Before we talk about how to meditate, let’s start from the meaning of meditation first. The ideal activity for resting the mind is meditation. The mind and body are similar in this regard. Your body experiences tiredness and fatigue after working hard and so does your mind.
Indeed, more often than not, more hard work is performed by the brain. Your mind is working all day long, enabling you to understand the world, learn new things, and solve any problems that come your way. Even as you doze off, your mind continues to work, thereby leading to dreams.
Thus, it is apparent that the mind hardly ever gets rest and therefore, one needs to seek some way via which the mind would get the opportunity to relax. A break is required by everything at some point, and your mind is no different. There is where meditation steps in.
It is a method being used for a long time to calm the mind, enabling it to improve focus. Meditation leads to an inner peace wherein you do not have to indulge in anything. You need just to sit back and observe. Once you attain clarity of mind, you can acquire a better control of your inner power and tap your maximum potential.
As stated in Wikipedia, a lot of religious beliefs incorporate meditation. These include Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism among others. It is natural to be curious as to whether one needs to be a part of any of these religions to meditate. However, this is not the case. Meditation refers to a universal practice which can be employed by just about anyone for inner peace and calm, irrespective of which religious belief they follow.
Earlier, meditation was not given much importance in the west with most people dismissing it as something meant for the eastern people or hippies. This is far from reality. Meditation is for anyone who is willing to put in some effort and time to acquire more information about it, following which he can meditate regularly. A little bit of time is all it would take daily.
The Relation of Science and Meditation
Meditation has also rendered the scientists curious. This is evident by the fact that over hundreds of studies have been done on the topic, some of them dating back to the 1950s. According to one study, MBSR or Mindfulness-based stress reduction is useful in alleviating the symptoms for a lot of physical and mental conditions. One study, conducted by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality revealed that with the intervention of meditation, psychological stress could be reduced. Other reviews and studies show that quite a lot of benefits for mental health can be acquired with the help of meditation. The symptoms of depression can be reduced via meditation as well. It can also be helpful in the management of depression that youth suffer from.
According to the studies, worries play a huge role in mental conditions, including anxiety and depression. The meditation interventions serve to reduce this worry. As per some studies, meditation enables one to acquire a coherent sense of himself. One begins to appreciate the various aspects of life, including compassion, character, and responsibility.
Why would Meditation be a Good Idea for Me?
1.Reduction in stress levels
Stress, if not handled at the correct time can be quite damaging.
All it takes is 25 minutes thrice a week for meditation to show results. You will start feeling less stressed over tasks. This is supported by recent research. It is an ill-kept secret that many famous artists, Silicon Valley kids, and Wall Street executives are in huge favor of using meditation to deal with stress. According to a study, meditation can lead to a decrease in anxiety by about 40%. Studies at Harvard Medical School discovered that the extent of the prefrontal cortex is increased owing to meditation. This is the brain area dealing with self-awareness and attention. Once you realize that some problematic situations are coming your way, you should close your eyes, while breathing steadily. You will be surprised by the effect that this simple technique has.
2. Improved sleep
It has become difficult, even more so after the prevalence of smartphones and tablets for the mind to become peaceful enough for one to drift off to sleep. Meditation can also improve your sleep. It enhances REM sleep along with increasing melatonin levels as well. A study from the JAMA Internal Medicine has revealed that many adults and middle-aged people are able to combat insomnia effectively after meditations. It just took six sessions to show results. As per Dr. Herbert Benson, who is the director of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Today Medicine, an affiliate of Harvard, the relaxation process can be improved via meditation thereby leading to lesser stress and better sleep.
3. Allowing workouts to provide you with optimal benefits
Your exercise can also be benefitted via meditation. According to the trainer at Aaptiv, which is an audio-based fitness startup, Sonja Rzepski, with meditation, there are lesser chances of getting bored during exercises and experiencing injury with meditation. Meditation leads to increased willpower which allows you to push yourself to the last limit. During the initial days, when you are just starting with exercises, you need more willpower. When you have more awareness about your movements and clarity in your thoughts, chances of injury decrease as your alert mind allows you to perform the various routines properly.
4. Leading to better relationships
You get better control of emotions via meditation. This does wonder for every relationship you have. If you have a conflict with someone, a calm attitude will enable you to keep your anger in check. Thus, you would be in a better position to deal with the issues. It is not just your own emotion that you would understand better. You will also find it easier to decipher the emotions of others. Thus, your personal life would become a whole lot more peaceful. According to a study by Maharishi International University, Iowa, women indulging in meditation are more satisfied with their marital life as compared to those who do not meditate.
5. Look younger
This might sound incredulous. You will not feel the difference within a short span. However, with prolonged meditation, you might start looking more youthful. This has been elaborated on by a study in the International Journal of Neurosciences, conducted in the 80s. The study worked by measuring the age of short and long-term mediators biologically and compared it with the overall population. Blood pressure was taken, and vision, skin elasticity, and hearing were measured. The study revealed that those who practiced meditation were younger by nearly 12 years compared to the other population. Those who had been practicing meditation for short term appeared younger by five years. Brain deterioration owing to age may also be diminished by meditation, as has been stated in another study.
6. Enhanced creativity
All of us are in dire need of creativity these days. It is not possible to teach creativity. However, some meditation techniques can improve your creativity to a large extent. As per a study conducted by Dominique Lippelt and Lorenza Colzato from Leiden University, those who indulge in meditation for 25minutes via the Open Monitoring techniques show better performance in thinking tasks.
7. Combatting anxiety
The problems in life often tend to render us unable to focus on the present. These issues leave one stressed out. Meditation is found to be effective in dealing with generalized anxiety disorders, as has been discovered by Dr. Elizabeth Hoge. She is an assistant professor at the Harvard Medical School in addition to being a psychiatrist. Generalized anxiety disorder includes symptoms like irritability and poor sleep. People are unable to control their worries in this condition.
8. A key to attaining success in life
You must have heard that practice is required for perfection. If you want to be excellent at something, you need to put in hours of practice. It took the Beatles nearly 1200 concerts to acquire international recognition. Bill Gates commenced with programming when he was in grade 8. However, if recent researches are to be believed, there is another key to success. All the world-class performers, managers and athletes are found to have high brain integration levels. This implies that there is a strong connection between the various areas of the brain. Their attention span is high, and they have quick thinking ability when faced with issues. This is what is needed to be successful, substantiated by Dr. Fred Travis, a Neuroscientist from the US. This is the secret that lies behind creativity that unlocks the door to success. Fortunately, this has been further established by a study conducted via the Harvard Medical School. According to the survey, changes occur in waves of the brain owing to meditation which leads to better functionality. With this key, you can be successful in just about any aspect of life, and that too in lesser time.
Meditation – The Misconceptions and Myths
The practices of meditation have become increasingly popular nowadays, and it is being practiced in various ways such as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Nevertheless, still many people are reluctant to try it out and make the most of it due to the common misconceptions and myths regarding Medication. The article discusses 12 myths and misconceptions along with the facts that are actually there.
Myth 1: It’s only a relaxation technique
Actual fact: It is true that meditation helps in relieving stress and relaxing, however, it requires a mental effort. Furthermore, the objective of practicing meditation is not just to relax, it involves developing a peaceful and calm mind which then leads to personal empowerment and deeper meditation.
Myth 2: It’s only about self-hypnosis
Actual fact: If we consider Hypnotherapy, it usually includes help from a professional therapist who would guide you to adopt a different behavior, for example quit smoking or overeating. In some cases, it may also involve accessing the memories that a person no longer remembers. A similar objective is followed by self-hypnosis, in this case the person usually follows a script or video instruction and follow the steps. An example of a script can be “imagine if you save all the money that you spent on cigarettes, what would you do of it?” or “picture yourself wearing a bikini on the beach, every time you see cake”
The types of meditation vary. Some do involve visualization, however, most of them do not involve modifying or controlling your behavior. Throughout the whole session, your practitioner would be aware of your situation and would observe what you think.
Myth 3: It is a difficult practice
Actual fact: Your mind has a habit of shifting from one issue to another, therefore, it is the mind that is difficult to calm, and not the practice itself. The human mind becomes fixated by some things and distracted by others, there’s usually a lot going on which makes it harder to focus. In order to perform better, meditation helps in learning to focus.
With Zen meditation, you can be more aware and present. Whereas with Tibetan meditation, you can learn to be aware and calm and to focus on a specific subject. It is important to note that some topics can be difficult, for example the nature of human life or significance of compassion in it. Note that if you’re able to think, you’ll be able to meditate.
Myth 4: All meditation is transcendental
Actual fact: Very few practitioners follow the technique of Transcendental meditation (TM), and is just one kind of meditation. It has its own objective and follows a path that is modern as compared to Tibetan and Zen meditations. Furthermore, this type of meditation comes with a cost and is taught only by instructors that have a license to do it.
Whereas, Tibetan Buddhist and Zen meditations are the more popular ones that can be accessed easily by any individual who wishes to learn and apply it in the regular meditation sessions.
In the West, the most common kind of meditation is mindfulness meditation. You just need to follow some simple steps, and you’re good to go. It is quite easy to practice.
Myth 5: Sitting in a Lotus Position/ requirement to do Yoga and to be Flexible
Actual fact: Both the misconceptions are connected to each other, and are incorrect. Meditation is basically an element of particular types of yoga, which involved Kundalini, Hatha and Ashtanga. Also, it is not necessary that you have to learn yoga in order to meditate.
Moreover, it is not required that you sit in a Lotus position having your feet high and legs crosses. You can do it in any position such as: crossed legs, sitting in a chair, standing or anything that you’re comfortable with.
Some meditations also involve position that require you to keep moving, so you can do one while walking. Movement does have an impact on your mind, an example of this can be when we put a baby in the stroller or rock him to sleep in order to make him calm.
However, why do people associate meditation with the lotus flower? The reason is that it is pure and beautiful and develops from the mud. Similarly, a person can enhance their thoughts and make them peaceful, calm and positive.
Myth 6: It’s about chanting Om.
Actual fact: This misconception is related to Myth 5. Individuals do chant Om and sit in a Lotus pose, the purpose of which is only to help the mind focus. However, there are so many other mantras, and it is not necessary at all to chant Om. It only depends on the individual, what type of meditation is he looking for.
Myth 7: Meditation is targeted to religious types.
Actual fact: Meditation in not only for a particular group of people, everyone can do it. Both Yoga and Meditation pre-date, and that is the reason some of the phrases may seem like old and religious. If you face any concern in reading the mantras that include OM that may be contrary to your beliefs, note that meditation helps in studying the science of mind and is very helpful.
Myth 8: It is only focused towards Easterners.
Actual fact: It is true that since its development, meditation has been practiced frequently by those living in the east, as it was integrated with their culture (e.g. in China and India). However, it is for everyone. As quoted by the oldest of text about yoga, meditation has been there for over 5000 years and this is because it is helpful and it works. As the society modernizes, people are giving up on meditation, however, there are many people that are coming back to these practices due the increasing stress levels and the feeling of being empty in the inside.
You just have to remain natural, sit still and necessarily chant or do yoga in each session. If you wish to enhance and get better results, meditation can help you with it.
Myth 9: Meditation is a selfish waste of time
Actual fact: With meditation, you can actually help yourself and others as well. It enables you to take full control over your emotions and through and not carry them as a burden. If you’ve made any mistakes in life that you regret, meditation can help you deal with such strong emotions of anger and depression. With meditation, you would be able to break the link between that unskillful action and your mood. This would help you in creating better relations.
Many individuals who’ve been meditating tell their experiences of being more linked to the world as well as themselves. When you’re more connected with others, you get a sense of compassion and empathy, and both of these elements are significant in developing relations and eliminating any feeling of isolations or loneliness which may develop as you grow old.
Myth 10: Meditation is escapist nonsense
Actual fact: With meditation, you don’t get the feeling to escape the world, rather, you wish to connect more. You can improve your focus and understanding abilities, which will help you face your problems and discover solutions, rather than running from them.
Myth 11: There is an application for Meditation
Actual fact: Technology can only assist you with Meditation by providing tips, reminders and that’s it, it cannot do it for you. You need to be aware and focus on your breathing, chanting and music will only help you relax and get in the mood to meditate. Self-improvement comes naturally with the help of meditation and there is no short-cut to it. You need to meditate daily to improve and to achieve your goals.
Myth 12: Meditation means to allow your mind to go empty or completely blank
Actual fact: Our mind is full of thoughts, meditation helps us eliminate these distraction and focus on what we wish to achieve. Meditation will not cause your mind to go blank, however, it gives you the ability to be in control of your thoughts and decide what thoughts you need to ignore.
Meditation enables you to observe what you think, emotions are just feelings that pass. Meditation teaches us that you don’t have to get attached to a certain emotion and allow it to have an impact on your mind.
There’s a though process going on in our minds, and it totally depends on us that what thought do we wish to keep and which one to ignore. Switching from one thought to another can lead to mischief which often results in a person acting in a way that is not helpful and wise.
The idea about emptiness regarding meditation, is often the one confusion that arises. One should not overlook or get confused with the concept of emptiness, which is actually a special mental awareness.
Origin and Different Types of Meditation
The first practice of meditation can be traced from the origins of the tale of Buddha. The Buddha was a noble Indian Prince who had loving relatives, a lovely wife and a lovely son. He lived in a splendid palace and was rich beyond his imagination. But after witnessing a dead body one day. He then realized he couldn’t stop his suffering, aging, sickness and death, no matter how strong a prince he was. He then decided to seek wisdom to end suffering. He meditated under the worst conditions for 7 years and attained enlightenment. He then taught other people his methods, and his own son included.
The story is inspiring, whether or not you consider it to be real. It should be observed that the Buddhists do not worship the Buddha, rather they try to imitate him. In temples, like Medicine Buddha or Wisdom Buddha Manjushri, there are many illumined beings. But again, they aren’t worshipped like gods, they are role models to remind us what we need to work on in our lives.
Despite all this, some people regard the number of Buddhas and symbols used as idolatry and associate it as a sect of religion. Indeed, some people are shocking when they see what looks like a Star of David and, even worse, a Swastika in Buddhist photo and on Buddha’s chests in images. The6-pointed Star symbolizes the of the purest Buddhas, Vajrayogini. The swastika is a symbol of reincarnation and eternal life, which is why it was used as their own symbol of power in certain political parties. This is awarded to the most devoted practitioners of the act.
However, if you consider Buddhism as the science of mind, you won’t be affected by the religious aspect of it. There are around 20 main meditations to rotate, improve your meditation skills and give you a clearer picture of vacuity. A profound understanding of vacuity is thought to be the way to illumination, a peaceful mind of wisdom which seeks to benefit all living entities.
Types of meditation
There are many types of meditation, each striving to focus, calm and improve the mind, but each striving to achieve their own ultimate goal. We also focus on different forms of meditation that you can feasibly perform on your own. Ultimately, you might want to do more online research, or through books once you become a more skilled meditator. It is very easy to control the simpler forms of meditation. To get a lot from it, you don’t have to be a Buddhist. It will be required to follow books written by the historical Buddha in 600 BC. The book mentions his 84,000 Sutra lessons, which are beneficial to incorporate all forms of meditations.
There are various forms of meditation merged with modern techniques, while some country’s like Tibet firmly stick to ancient practices. Here are the list of types as follows:
- Tibetan Buddhist meditation
- Transcendental Meditation (TM)
- Guided imagery
- Zen meditation
Tibetan Buddhist Meditation
Tibetan Buddhism is the purest form of meditation and Buddhism, because Tibet is such an isolated country that this form of meditation is practiced continuously with little external influence for centuries. Experienced Indian meditators went there to teach those who wanted to follow the way of illumination. The Dalai Lama is Tibet’s political and spiritual leader and a successful meditator as a monk. However, to get great results you don’t have to be a monk. When you calm down, you can concentrate on some subject to get a better understanding. Guided meditations on key topics such as reincarnation, kindness and the final truth, emptiness, lead to the freedom from suffering, that is to say, enlightenment. You can achieve the state of Nirvana. Nirvana is not a physical place, rather a state of mind. An illumined being can be beneficial to all because it is so kind and compassionate.
Transcendental Meditation (TM)
Transcendental meditation is basically a form of mantra meditation founded in the 1950s. The lessons are costly and no special benefit is shown in comparison with any other meditation, especially since most are free to learn. It is popular among the Beatles and other pop stars, but popular does not always mean useful and effective. Save your money or invest about $1,000 in some retreats, books and classes for beginners instead.
Sometimes referred to as visualization, this meditation method encourages you to create mental illustrations of relaxing places or situations. You try to use as many as senses as possible to calm the mind and focus it, such as scents, sounds, noise, and graphics. This is an excellent way to become more meditative. Its objective is peace and relaxation. It can be done with meditation on consciousness of the mind.
This type of meditation is based on the awareness, that is, the knowledge and acceptance of life in the present moment. It means taking care of what you do at the moment and not living absent minded. Two everyday examples include to really taste your food or concentrate on washing a dish. Without judging them, you will observe your thoughts. The aim is to concentrate the mind and get to know it more. You can also concentrate on the sensory input to calm the mind.
You silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase in this kind of meditation to prevent distraction and to awaken inner strength. The word OM, for example, has a vibrational quality that should increase your knowledge and connection with the cosmos. The aim is to concentrate further and to avoid distractions so that concentration and awareness can be deeper and deeper. The purpose is connection and higher wisdom, like the great wisdom of illumination.
Two main practices exist in Zen or Zazen meditation. It is respiratory meditation and consciousness meditation to be present and conscious. The aim is inner tranquility.
How to Meditate
The basics are all you need to guide you to picking a form which is suitable to your preferences. Now that you know several of the main forms of meditation, it is time to taste it. You can begin with the principal elements of beginner’s meditation practice.
The Primary Components of Meditation
There are various forms of meditation, each of which has unique characteristics. These aspects of meditation can differ as per the meditation type you indulge in and the teacher of the class of meditation. Let us provide you with some basic information about some features that are common to all kinds of meditation.
A distraction-free environment
Meditating in a nice and quiet environment is essential. Therefore, the first thing that you need to do is find a space in your house which can be dedicated to meditation alone. The place needs to be devoid of distractions such as computers or television among other things. Mobile phones should be switched off while meditating.
A position you are comfortable in
Meditation can be practiced in any position. It does not matter whether you are lying, walking, sitting or performing any other activity. The only thing that you need to ensure is that you are comfortable physically so that you can acquire the full effect of meditation on your mental health. Keeping your spine straight is essential.
Focusing with optimal attention
Focused attention is among the integral components of meditation. When you focus your attention, your mind is freed from the distractions that lead to worry and stress. You also get rid of any thoughts that might hamper your meditation.
To acquire focus, a conventional method employed is focusing your attention on breathing. You may also divert your attention to a specific image, mantra or object.
The breathing pattern
As you meditate, your breathing needs to be even-paced. The contraction and expansion of lungs should be done via the diaphragm muscles. This powerful albeit gentle breathing pattern ensures that more oxygen is taken in thereby leading to the circulation of blood enriched with oxygen to the whole body. This pattern also allows efficient breathing, thus making it the best option for those suffering from respiratory conditions including asthma, allergies or COPD among others.
We have elaborated on some of the integral elements of meditation that a beginner should know about. Let us proceed to the practice of meditation.
Easy Practices of Meditation That Beginners Can Try
Starting with meditation might appear difficult for some. Thus, we will now provide you with eight of the easy and simple meditation practices that can be performed easily by just about anyone. It would be a good idea to commence with perfecting the meditation via breathing before you move onto the other options.
Meditation via Breathing
In this method, breathing is all you need to focus on. Get rid of all other thoughts. Count from 1 to 10 while breathing in and out, not paying heed to any distractions. This is not as easy as it sounds. Once you start meditating, you will realize the presence of the plethora of thoughts that reside in your mind. Indeed, there is a chance that you fail to count beyond one during your first time as you will end up being distracted by something. However, there is no reason to worry. All that you need to do is practice. Starting with five minutes daily and then increasing a couple of minutes gradually in a week would be suitable. Your goal is to reach a point wherein you can meditate for nearly half an hour without being distracted by anything.
Paying Attention to Your Body
As you sit for meditation, focus your attention on your different body parts. Acquire an awareness of the pain, relaxation, sensations, and warmth of your body. If you feel pain, you should imagine that the painful area is being healed via bathing in white light. This can also be utilized as a component of meditation of breathing wherein you breathe in the heal and breathe out the pain.
Repeating Any Mantra
Any mantra can be created for this purpose, religious or secular. If you want to opt for a secular mantra, you can try out words like peace. Phrases such as live life for the present can also be tried. A lot of options are available for religious mantras depending on your religion. You can try the Lord’s Prayer according to the tradition of Christianity. In Judaism, there is the holy God name that can be tried while for eastern religions such as Hinduism, and Buddhism, the OM mantra can be used. This method can be employed as a unique session or as a component of meditation via breathing.
Meditation via Blessing, Kindness, Prayer or Blessing
In Tibetan, prayer literally refers to wish path. This implies that you wish for some change in life. Blessing translates to waves of transformation. Once again, it is not any external God that you are praying to. Instead, you are endeavoring to bring about a transformation in your life that will make things better.
Wouldn’t it be incredible if you could do this for the world instead of only for yourself? Consider this that as you are breathing in, you rear in the black smoke which encompasses suffering and pain of the world. Instead, you send out a white and pure light that bathes every single person with love and blessing. You can consider this variant of meditation a single session or a component of breathe meditation.
An intention can also be set. For instance, you can decide to allot a session of a day to those suffering from any terminal illness such as cancer or those that are stuck in some natural calamity. Sometimes, you meet people who spread positive energy. A room feels lightened up with their presence. This is the power you get when you care for others.
The Meditation of Attitude of Gratitude
While you are sitting, give a thought to all who make some difference or impact in your life daily. Commence with thinking about those who are closet to you such as family and friends or who you work with. Expand the pool to incorporate others like the one who delivers milk to your house. Think about the things you bought and the one who must have placed it on the shelf of the store. Think about who made it and everyone who made it accessible to you.
Another option is to think of the things that make you grateful. This includes a good job and good health among other things.
There is an impressive story we would like to share. A wise old teacher resided in a village in poverty. An earthquake hit the village owing to which cracks form in the foundation of a house. A chest with jewels and gold is revealed. Everyone was amazed and exclaimed how rich these people became. The teacher, however, negates this. According to him, they just found about it now, but they had always been rich while being oblivious to it.
If you have developed a habit of taking things for granted, it would be good to think about all the riches that you already have.
Meditation of Mindfulness
You can do this form of meditation anytime. Being mindful refers to paying attention. You need to focus while you are performing any activity. For instance, when you are washing the dishes, focus on how the water feels, how smooth the dish is, and how coarse the scrubber is. Seek pleasure in these seemingly minute things that make up your day, things that we usually do not give much attention to.
As you eat, take your time with each bite, chewing thoroughly while appreciating its taste. Pay attention to how the food feels in the mouth, thinking about its texture.
Ensure that you select a linear path that covers a distance of 40 feet for this meditation. This can be practiced barefoot, or you can wear a pair of light shoes.
Standing upright, cast your eyes down to the distance in front. Do not focus on any specific thing. This would enable you to avoid being distracted. Half-closed eyelids can do the trick.
While walking, focus your attention on your steps, the sensation that you experience as your soles rise and move forward. Feel your tense feet while lifting your leg. Be aware of how your leg moves as you swing it in the air, experiencing every sensation.
While bringing the foot down to the path again, you will experience a fresh feeling. Focus your attention on this sensation at the sole.
Lift your foot again and experience the same feeling when you raise it.
Every step you take will lead to a fresh wave of feelings while the former feelings will erase. You will feel the rise and then the passing away and so on. Such feelings will only be appreciated if you are mindful. You need to be focused on every single sensation that is experienced at the sole. There is not a specific type of experience in this case. It is just about how you feel.
Continue walking on the same path. As you reach the end, halt and then turn around. Pause before starting again.
As you walk along the path, think about where your mind is and if it is focused on the soles. This will reaffirm mindfulness. If you find your mind wandering, bring your focus back to the sole.
It is possible that your speed changes as you continue walking. Try sensing the pace which manages to keep you most alert to the experience.
If at any given point, you think that your mind is optimally peaceful and you need to sit down or just stand still, follow your instinct.
Focus all your attention on walking and the sensations. Do not think about anything else. Once this ability to focus as you walk develops, you will be able to do so even while you walk about doing chores regularly.
For this, you need to first decide on the duration of time that you want to dedicate to meditating. It would be a good idea to start with 20 minutes.
Select a place for sitting that is quiet and relaxing.
Ensure that you are comfortable in the meditation chair and the posture is right. The feet are to be placed flat in contact with the floor.
Your hands should be resting on thighs while your fingers should reach the knees. The shoulders and arm should be relaxed.
Allow yourself to relax in a couple of minutes.
A tip to remember: Do not judge the sessions
It is vital to not keeping judging whether the session was good or not. It is natural to be distracted. You will find it all a lot easier with practice. The mind wanders as you meditate even after a lot of practice. If your mind indeed wanders while meditating, you need to shift your focus to the task at hand again slowly. Focus on breathing.
There are quite a few types of meditation, some of which we elaborated on. When you perfect the meditation techniques we have laid out, you will understand which one is most suitable for you, one that not only makes you feel the change but that you also enjoy. Your teacher would instruct you to try to copy a child who focuses on what he is doing and yet manages to have fun while doing so.
Do not waste your time. Ensure that you acquire the full use of any opportunity you get for practicing, and the results would be before you.
Physical and Mental Changes during Meditation
Meditation is a practice of deep thinking which provides number of health benefits to people. Can it change one’s brain physically and fundamentally for the better?
Well, there’s a growing body of research that vouch for some clear physical changes. Let’s have a look at some of the exciting studies showing positive outcomes of meditation on human brain.
According to a study, meditation helps in development of denser grey matter within the hippocampus region of brain. For those who are not familiar with hippocampus, it’s a part of brain that regulates emotions, linked with memory, motivation, self-awareness, learning and compassion. Thus, the greyer matter within the hippocampus, the more healthy cognition you will have.
Another study has provided information that meditation improves health of caudate nucleus – a brain’s region which controls both motor (breathing, movement) and non-motor functions, together with specific kind of learning. Because Parkinson’s disease mainly occurs due to improper working of caudate nucleus, a healthier caudate nucleus can prevent many against Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
In addition, when you practice meditation together with yoga, you are bound to realize many other benefits. One such wellness benefit is that it improves connection between caudate nucleus and other parts of brain.
Some researchers have complied compelling evidence on how meditation can help in preventing age-associated cognitive decline and modifying alpha waves in brain for ultimate goal of improved mental functionality. Many studies suggest that meditation has an impact on brain structure and cortical thickness. While practicing meditation allows you to have a clear perception of your own body, and improved attention, there are many cases where it improved breathing, reduced chronic pain and suffering.
Findings which came from brain mapping with MRI also shed light on how mere few weeks of mediation can bring considerable changes to the brain structure, even if practiced for less than 30 minutes per day. Scientifically, we are aware of the fact that mapping the brain itself causes some modification within the body. However, it came as no surprise that those who consider meditation as a form of mental exercise, are more likely to experience some positive changes in their brain.
A study was conducted to examine the progress of participants after meditation sessions. When asked, some participants reported that it helps them staying calmer, and lighter. Others reported that it feels like the body is floating in air. Many of them felt revitalized and full of energy and found improved breathing – they felt more capable to fill their lungs up with air. However, there are some who experienced headaches due to excess of meditation. This issue can be resolved when one choose to meditate with a covered head. Similarly, there were some participants who reported a sore back or stiffness. Typically, sore back happens due to improper posture. So, before you start meditating, make sure you stretch a little bit to keep yourself warm.
Frequently Asked Questions about Meditation
Are you interested in doing meditation exercises? Well, before you truly begin to indulge into mediation practice, make sure you know it well. There are many myths and queries people have about mediation that keep them away from practicing. So, here is what you need to know.
What does regular meditation do to the human body?
A human body can discover numerous benefits from meditation. Many thinks of this practice as a way to reduce stress, develop harmonious relationships, and reduce conflict and bad habits, and a way to detach from negative feelings. When you meditate, you tend to view things clearly. You will notice things from a different perspective. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, you will be able to take simple and actionable steps to fix the life’s challenges.
What is the best time to meditate?
Usually early morning is the perfect time to practice meditation. Serenity and less distraction are few reasons that makes early morning an ideal time to meditate. This allows you to touch deeper part of your inner conscious. Having said that, best time is also what’s convenient to you. Evening or late afternoon could be the best time to meditate as well. Though, make sure you do so in a quiet place. Also, late evenings are not advised because it can put you to sleep if you’ve had an exhausting day. Whatever time slot suits you, make sure you take a dedicated meditation session every day. If you pay attention to pile of laundry, or stack of paper work, you are more likely to face distraction. This is why it is suggested to keep your eyes close. What the best you can do is organize a small peaceful area specifically for practicing mediation. Even, you can place inspirational objects there to help you focus on positive stuff if you do open your eyes. For instance, you can tape mandalas and yantras (sacred diagrams) into wall of your meditation room. This can help you in regaining the focus. Candle meditation is another way to improve your awareness and regain the focus. Just remember to blow it when you’re done with meditation.
How long should I meditate?
Should we meditate for few minutes, seconds or an hour long? Well, if you have just started doing meditation, 5 minutes are enough for you. As time proceeds, you should extend your existing time by adding a minute per session. Continue this over the weeks until you finally reach to 15 and then 20 minutes per session.
Is sitting on floor necessary for doing meditation?
You are allowed to meditate in many postures such as sitting, walking, lying down and standing. However, it’s best to do that meditation posture where you feel comfy. Whichever way you choose, make sure your spine stays straight all the time.
Do I have to sit cross-legged in Lotus pose to meditate?
No, that’s not necessary, yet it’s one of the ways to do meditation. If your legs are hurting in crossed-legs pose, you are not alone. Complete ease in your meditation pose is utmost priority so that you can focus on your mind and breath, not how painful you are sitting.
Do I need to have a guru?
The word ‘guru’ refers to a teacher or the one who guides. While a guru can equip you with helpful hints and effective tips, however, there is nothing that can beat practice as it’s an education itself.
Are guided meditation videos beneficial?
Once you know how to focus on deeper level, guided meditation can be a good way to take your practice to the next level.
Does music affect the quality of one’s meditation?
You can incorporate music into meditation once you know how to deal with diversions and mind chatter. However, music tends to be relaxing which could either make you fall asleep or hinder your practice rather than helping it. At the same time, listening to chanting, and mantras can be a powerful practice.
Should I read a lot of books on meditation?
Not much required. There are lots of books on meditation, but reading them during early stages of meditation can complicate things.
Am I doing meditation in a right way?
Seems to have lots of thoughts in your mind? Well, then you are doing it right. Because, there are many who don’t heed much to their endless chatter. Once you ponder over it, you will try to stop or quiet these negative thoughts. Encourage only positive voices or those which you should be.
Is meditation connected to living in the moment?
Living in the moment is highly possible while meditating. By living in the moment, it means more of being aware rather than being absent or not aware. Meditation is all about letting go of your past and release worries of future so you can live more in the present moment. When it comes to Zen meditation, it’s all about being present in the moment.
Who can meditate?
Sure, everyone is allowed to meditate once they become aware of all the meditation basics. Specially, children can be the best meditators as kids usually have better ability to visualize than adults. Further, seniors are more likely to get diverted and own more wisdom and experience.
Do I have to wear special clothes when meditating?
Turbans and special apparel are not required. You should wear comfortable clothes while meditating. Wearing too tight clothes might prevent you from breathing.
I’m a Christian. Is it okay to meditate?
Meditation doesn’t have any religion boundaries. Anyone can do it. Some religions use it as a way to enhance spirituality; however, meditation techniques precede any organized religion. Conventionally, many eastern countries have been using meditation to enhance healing, even for centuries. Believe it or not, in Buddhism, people assume meditation as the science of mind. Once you discover your own mind and find inner peace then you can turn around your life.
Around you, there are many misconceptions, concerns and questions regarding meditation. Don’t let them get in your way. What you need to do is just meditate regularly and see the obvious benefits yourself.
Find focus in your everyday life and coordinate your breathing with meditation.
Apps for Meditation
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from trying out meditating. Start with focusing on your thoughts and have a conscious mind during meditation to see how it goes. Mobile phones have become an essential part of our daily life today. It can be used as a meditation aid as well. Simply, go to the App Store and Google Play and search by using the following names. The guidelines and easy to follow step-by-step trials of meditation apps can be a good means to gain knowledge about meditation.
Most apps are free to download but contain in app purchases, while others need to be purchased before getting into the usage:
These free apps generally have free trail periods and in app purchases to help enhance experience.
The Mindfulness App
This five-day guided meditation app is packed with traits and offers reminders when you need to relax and other offers based on your own meditation. It can also be integrated with other health applications if users enjoy improving their health using their devices. This app is the gold standard if you want to keep a better mind and incorporate meditation into the day. You can continue furthermore days by purchasing a premium subscription for further features.
An app that’s perfect for people just starting a meditation routine. Its free trial consists of 10 exercises for beginners that can teach you more and apply it to your life. Review the personalized progress page, the continued practice reward system and the buddy system that allows users to keep up with others. The animated activities add an attractive, light-hearted touch to help you understand meditation. More features in the premium subscription are available.
Calm provides a wide range of guided meditations to help people make their lives more relaxed. The sessions range between 3 and 25 minutes. It also includes a 10-minute program called Daily Calm, a great routine to work on before you start or end the day. There are also unguided breathing exercises, sleep stories and over 25 soothing sounds to help improve sleep. For more, a premium subscription option is available.
This app enables users to choose from a variety of meditations taught by different instructors. It has meditations adjusted for certain moods and can design meditations based on user’s stress levels. The programs vary in length and the background music can be adapted to suit your preferences. Omvana also offers programs to make you more aware. The clean graphics interface makes it simple to pick a track that fits your needs and mood.
Check out this app for more than 4,500 free guided meditations from over 1,000 meditators. It also allows you to access 750 tracks of meditation. Change your meditation to create a unique experience that works better for you using background sounds and meditation intervals. You can also buy a monthly subscription to listen offline.
Stop, Breathe & Think
The app features over 55 options for guided meditation, so you won’t get bored by the practice. It also works with topics like sleep, compassion, depression and anxiety. Chimes and sounds can be adapted to your preferences, and your daily meditation practice can be recorded to track progress throughout the year. More content with premium subscription is available.
This app is perfect for those who are hesitant in trying our meditation. This app is designed for skeptics who want to test meditation but want practical and easy to apply content to simplify the process. The exercises are designed to help anxious and asleep users and the app adds new content every week. Integration of the Apple Health App is also possible. For over 500 VCs and additional content, users can also receive Premium versions. This was developed by Dan Harris, the famous news anchor to help others to find more peace in their lives.
Breethe has attention and meditation techniques to get people to meditate more often. Its meditation tools and features are more targeted at beginners because in some areas of the world meditation is not as common as others. The developer says the meditation routine will take 10 minutes a day and this app will give you morning sleep and other customized topics. This may be used for free, forever or for all premium subscription content to be unlocked.
Get your kids into meditation with Smiling Mind, an application which is adaptable to different age groups even kids as young as seven. Creates accounts for various family members so that everyone can use the app to manage their meditation. Teachers can also use the app for their classroom activities to include meditation education.
Sattva Meditations & Mantras
Sattva’s goal is to inspire you daily to meditate. A number of characteristics and exercises, including timers and singing, are provided. Furthermore, you can check your heart rate and take part in challenges through the app. The comprehensive information about how meditation can benefit the total well-being is part of this app. They can also buy subscriptions for even more features.
These apps save the element of surprise for users by conveying the cost at the time of download.
Cost: $1.99 for both iPhone and Android.
Richard and Mary Maddux who have championed the popular meditation Oasis podcast created this app. This app encourages you to meditate regularly, encouraging you to practice meditation at various times of the day. Its graphics are designed to infuse relaxation; however, its meditations are an addition to that as well. The length of the meditations can also be adjusted. Hear meditations with or without the music and the sounds of nature or simply play background music with the audio.
Cost: $1.99 for Android and $4.99 for iPhone
This app is for users who are Serious about keeping a good meditation practice. Buddhify gives users access to custom meditation programs over 11 hours. This enables individual to avoid annual subscriptions. Each practical approach focuses on different aspects of your life, such as meditation to help you sleep or stop working. The check-in system enables users over time to assess progress, this helps keep in analyzing how effective meditation has been.
Meditation Timer Pro
Cost: $1.99 for both iPhone and Android
Meditation Timer Pro is an easy application with a practical, bell-and whistle-free user interface. It includes exercises to enhance your practice of meditation. Create a special app with chimes and other sounds, or stick to the settings of the factory. It also enables you to monitor your progress.
Wearable Gadgets to Assist in Meditation Practices
Muse is a feature-rich gadget that assists you in soothing your thought process in your mind. With help from modern technology, this device comes in the form of a headband and will connect to your cell-phone via Bluetooth, resulting in hour long meditation process. If you’re someone who is facing troubles with meditating, you should go for Muse. Muse is a meditation application that can be easily downloaded and can be initiated once you connect the headband with your phone. You then need to relax and keep your eyes closed for a while.
This device functions by measuring the signals sent by the human brain, similar to how a heart rate monitors functions. With the help of calibrated sensors present in the device, your brain activity is detected and actions are taken to calm your mind. You can also track your progress with this device, and can use it for maximum 5 hours with the need to charge it. Also, the usage is not just limited to one person, thus, you can let your family and friends use it as well. This application can work perfectly on both, Android and iOS devices. Therefore, try it now regardless of which device you own.
With Unyte Interactive Meditation solution, you can keep you mind in peace each day. It consists of elements such as iom2, a biofeedback device that will assist you in keeping a track of your physiological state, along with providing 50+ virtual experiences that are structured to make the entire meditation process easy and to learn effectively. The device utilizes the best technology in order guide you to be calm. You can track the improvement in your resonance score by first clipping the ion2 device in your ear, you then need to select your interactive experience, following the breathing guide during the process. Furthermore, this system also consists of VR Headsets which help in providing an amazing and soothing experience. Unyte Meditation can be helpful in eliminating pain, improving your sleep and assisting with the symptoms of specific disorders.
Breath the Meditation Lamp
This tool for meditation will assist you in getting started with the practice and improving it as you go forward. With the help of this tool, you will be able to focus more and breathe properly in the current moment. When used regularly, your brain will be trained to come into a state of meditation. You can shift in an optimal meditative mood with the help of the components of Himalayan Salts used in this device, these components diffuse a blue soft light that performs that task.
Celebrities who Meditate
Hugh Jackman is an Australian singer, actor and producer who has won several international recognitions for different film genres. He has done some of the best films and is popular for characters such as Wolverine in X-men, and some of the leading roles in films like The Greatest Showman (2017), Prisoners (2013)-a thriller, film version of Les Misérables (2012), The fountain (2006)-a fantasy drama, Australia (2008) a drama, The Prestige (2006)-a drama, Van Helsing-a horror movie, Kate & Leopold (2001) and more.
Hugh Jackman is someone who practices meditation as he also talked about it with Oprah Winfrey, quoting that meditation helps in letting go of all the thoughts. In that moment, he’s not someone’s father or husband. Meditation helps focusing and controlling your thought process.
Kristen Bell is an Actress from America who studied in Tisch School of the Arts in New York and started acting in stage productions. Kristen Bell performed her debut in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 2001, as Becky Thatcher. Following that year, she also starred in Broadway revival of The Crucible. She was praised in 2004, for her exceptional performance in Gracie’s Choice and also gave an appearance in the movie Spartan.
She discussed with Shape Magazine that meditation is the solution, whether you’re having any kind of issue, work related, road rage or anything, meditation solves everything and allows your mind to be in peace.
Nicole Kidman is an Australian producer and actress. She appeared and became famous by her acting in the miniseries Bangkok Hilton and the movie Dead Calm, in the year 1989. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Moulin Rouge! (2001) and The Hours (2002); she played a courtesan and a writer in the films.
She won as the best actress for her performance in The Hours (2002) and got Golden Globes for her performance in both films.
Nicole Kidman discussed her preference for Transcendental meditation, while discussing the topic of Meditation with InStyle Magazine. She explained the benefits of Meditation and how she prefers doing it regularly. A normal session for her would time up to be 20-30 minutes and she used an application for meditating as well, which also showed the people meditating at that moment.
Jerry Seinfeld is an actor, stand-up comedian, director, writer and producer from America. He is famous for writing and creating sitcom Seinfeld along with Larry David, in which he performed himself. In 2005, Seinfeld was named by Comedy Central as the “12th Greatest Stand-up Comedian of All Time.” His specialized area is observational comedy.
Seinfeld discussed a few things about Meditation on the show “Good Morning America,” He said that while he was working on a TV series, Seinfled was the actor, the producer, in-charge of editing and casting as well as the head writer, all of this for 9 years and in an era of network television and not cable. He explained how he survived this time-period with the help of regularly meditating.
Paul McCartney is a songwriter, a singer and a composer. He is well known as a singer and a bass guitarist of Beatles band which is one of the most famous bands. However, in 1970 after the band split, he began performing solo and started he band Wings alongside his wife and Denny Laine. He was also a songwriting partner with John Lennon and this partnership turned out to be very successful.
Discussing his views on meditation in 2009, he said, meditation helped him in adding serenity into moments of madness and provided a quiet space for relaxing. He encouraged youth to meditate and find a quiet haven in the chaotic world.
Oprah Winfrey is a host famous for her talk show “The Oprah Winfrey Show” which was one of the most popular television shows in history; she is a media executive, an actress, a producer and a philanthropist. Being the richest African American of 20th century as well as the first black multi billionaire and the best black philanthropist, she is ranked among the most influential women worldwide. Oprah also dubbed the “Queen of All Media”.
Oprah in conversation with Dr. Oz said that meditation has been immense beneficial for her company as it helped people with migraines and get better sleep. It gave rise to better interactions and relationships and thus a peaceful workplace.
Naomi Watts is an English producer and an actress. She played and got famous by her role in the Mulholland Drive (2001) – a psychological thriller by David Lynch. She also played the role of a journalist in the famous horror remake The Ring (2002). For her role in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s neo-noir 21 Grams (2003), she was nominated both in Screen Actors Guild Awards and Academy Awards for the Best Actress.
She discussed with the Health Magazine how meditation helps her stay peacefully in Hollywood. She stated how she loves nature and finds peace while being near to trees and oceans. She also discussed that she prefers Transcendental Meditation which keeps her steady and calm.
Keanu Reeves is a very popular director, producer, actor and musician based in Canada. He is known to perform in some of the best blockbuster movies such as Point Break (1991), comedies from the Bill and Ted franchise (1989–1991), Speed (1994), The Devil’s Advocate (1997), John Wick franchise (2014–2019), Constantine (2005) – a supernatural thriller and the very famous The Matrix (1999–2003).
He stated that meditation has helped in discover himself better and others as well. It has helped him think of life differently, through a different perception. He explained how he believes in overcoming one’s fears and has been doing it ever since.
Jet Li is a famous Chinese film producer, actor, martial artist and a retired Wushu champion. He was born in Beijing and starred in various films based on marital arts such as Zhang Yimou’s Hero (2002) where he played a lead role, Fist of Legend (1994), and his role as a folk hero in the films Once Upon a Time in China series (1991–1993).
He discussed meditation with Men’s Health and stated that he meditates at least one hour every day in order to calm his mind, as a chaotic mind impacts his body directly. He explained how an individual can start-off by giving minimum time and increase it later. It’s surprisingly very effective.
Jennifer Aniston is an American businesswoman, film producer and an actress. She famous for her character Rachel Green on the series Friends (1994–2004). For this, she received Screen Actors Guild award, Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy. Her character was recognized as the best and widely popular one in American television. Other box-office success includes: Break-Up (2006), Bruce Almighty (2003), Marley & Me (2008), we’re the Millers (2013), Horrible Bosses (2011), Just Go with It (2011), every film grossed around over $200 million global box office receipts.
She stated about meditation that if you start spending only 20 minutes every day, you’ll notice a visible difference. She explained that the day she does not meditate, the difference is clear. Therefore, she tries meditating the first thing after she wakes up.
Thus, there’s a lot that you’ve learned till now, and it’s time that you start practicing it too. Select a meditation technique of your own preference and start it without having any worries. Make it a part of your everyday routine. If you continue doing it regularly, you’ll soon see a visible difference and it will lead to a calm mind and peaceful life.