As most of us already know, the benefits of meditation are countless. However, many people do not practice it due to the false belief that it takes years to learn to eventually get the benefits they seek.
The goal of this article is to state the basics of meditation as well as to clarify several misunderstandings around the practice. I strongly believe that learning the basics of meditation can get you on the right path to start this practice successfully and benefit from it for years to come.
Meditation is considered an art. It refers to a state where your body and mind are both, consciously relaxed and focused at the same time. Practitioners of this art report increased awareness, focus and concentration, as well as a more positive outlook in life. From better physical and mental health to improved relationships and everything in between, you can reap the benefits of meditation when you take some time to learn it, commit to it, and practice it regularly.
The Basics of Meditation
Meditation is 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 need special clothing, music or equipment, nor to be in a special place to practice it. You can try it anywhere, even in your own living room or while traveling by plane!
Although there are many different approaches to meditation, the fundamental principles remain the same. Among the basics of meditation is the goal of removing obstructive, negative, and wandering thoughts, so you can calm your mind while experiencing a deep sense of focus. This act has the goal to subdue the monkey mind, clear the mind of debris, and prepare it for a higher quality of activity.
The monkey mind refers to the on-going chatter in your mind. These are loud thoughts about anything, such as noisy neighbors, bossy officemates, a parking ticket you got, an argument with your friend, a letter you are waiting for, unwanted spam in your inbox, a bill that you have to pay, and many other things. All of these thoughts contribute to ‘polluting’ the mind. Shutting them out allows for the ‘cleansing’ of the mind so that you may focus on deeper, more meaningful thoughts.
This does not mean that you should forget about or avoid your responsibilities. For instance, if you had an argument with your friend and you want to resolve it, you should plan on doing that. However, the basics of meditation calls for letting go of the inner chatter just for the time you practice meditation. Knowing this will facilitate your letting go, as your circumstances will be there when you come back from meditation. As an added benefit, it is very likely that a solution to your confict will pop into your mind as you end your meditation session with a clearer mind.
Some practitioners even shut out all sensory input – no sights, no sounds, no smells, and nothing to taste or touch – to detach themselves from the noise and commotion around them. This is done to induce a ‘clearer‘ mind from which you can be ready to start afresh. From that clean slate you are more able to focus on a deep, profound thought or idea without distractions, depending on your goal.
At first, this may seem deafening because we are all too habituated to constantly hearing and seeing things as we go about our days. As you continue this exercise you will find yourself becoming more aware of everything around you – even the smallest of things- while at the same time, you are more detached from whatever is going on around you and within your mind.
Also included in the basics of meditation is something that often scares people away from giving it a try. I’m talking about the meditation positions that you commonly see on television, which may seem threatening or impossible altogether. Such is the case of extremely arched backs or painful-looking contortions; however, there is no need to worry about this.
Just remember that you must be in a comfortable position that is conducive to relaxation and concentration. You can be sitting cross-legged against a wall, standing, lying down, and even walking, so no need for special positions at all. If the position allows you to be comfortable to relax and focus, then that would be a good starting point. The important thing is to have a straight back, especially when sitting or standing, but not tense or tight. In other positions, the only requirement is not to slouch or fall asleep.
Also, try to wear loose, comfortable clothes that match the weather. If it’s too hot, do not wear something like a sweatshirt, and if too cold, do not wear a T-shirt. Moreover, tight fitting clothes can make you feel uncomfortable and tense. It is also recommended to take your shoes off. All of this facilitate the process.
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. Or you can do it outdoors, in your garden, as long as you have a private corner where you won’t be disturbed. You might want to get an exercise mat to sit on, and especially if you plan to take on the more challenging positions. And you should 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 is a good idea as well.
The monks you’ve probably seen on television making monotonous sounds are actually performing a mantra. This, in simple terms, is a short creed, a simple sound which, for these practitioners, holds a mystic value.
You do not need to have a mantra yourself; however, it would pay to note that focusing on repeated actions such as breathing, and humming help the practitioner enter a higher state of consciousness.
As we’ve discussed in here, the main principle of the basics of meditation is focused relaxation. For this reason, some people use a certain object to focus on, like a pendulum. Others can focus while keeping their eyes open, if they have a single sight in front of them, like a fish pond or a flower.
Another routine to help you focus is to silently name every part of your body while in a meditative state. As you do this, consciously focus on that part and picture your every part as healthy and whole. While doing this you might notice tension on a certain part of your body, such as your neck or shoulders. Mentally visualize releasing this tension, and let it go. It works wonders.
Finally, realize that meditation is a relatively risk-free practice and its benefits are well worth the effort. From relaxation to a clearer mind, you will find yourself more at peace in every are of your life as your practice progresses and it becomes regular. These basics of meditation should give you a headstart; however, if you want to leatn more, I suggest you drop by the Tools for Abundance Portal here to expand your knowledge and get trained properly.
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 in the near future, who knows, that mystical, esoteric thing we call meditation might become a science itself!
Do you meditate? What suggestions can you add to the basics of meditation listed above? Thanks for your participation!!