Much like how fitness is an approach to training the body, meditation is an approach to training the mind. And just like with fitness, there are many techniques to meditation, each of which requires different mental skills.
To reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain.
To increase peace, perception, self-concept, and well-being.
However, it should be noted that the true purpose of meditation is not to achieve benefits. As an Eastern philosopher may say, the goal of meditation is no goal. It’s simply to be present. The ultimate benefit of meditation is liberation of the mind from things it cannot control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions, thus maintaining a calm mind and sense of inner harmony.
How to begin?
Make sure you designate a time each day to practice meditation. It doesn’t need to be long—even two minutes can be beneficial—but you must be consistent. Like any skill, meditation takes repetition and practice to master. The more consistent you are with it; the more benefits you will see.
Set the Mood
Play soothing music. This not only helps set the mood, but helps drown out an distracting noises. Tip: To start, play a song that is 2-3 minutes long; the end of the song will cue the end of your meditation session.
Thankfully you don’t need your own meditation guru for a session of guided meditation. There are many apps, DVDs, and CDs available that can guide you. You may find this useful while you learn how to meditate.
There are many different meditation techniques, but we will focus on Concentration Meditation, which involves focusing on a single point, such following the breath, repeating a mantra, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala. You simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering.
Breathing Meditation Exercise
- Sit or lie comfortably and close your eyes.
- Make no effort to control your breath; simply breathe naturally.
- Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Observe the coolness of the air as you inhale, and the warmth of the air as you exhale. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity.
- If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, you simply let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.
- Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.
So tell us, what’s your experience with meditation? Have you tried it before? Do you meditate regularly? I like to meditate after working out and stretching as part of my cool-down routine. Comment below and tell us about your experiences with meditating!