The Beginner’s Introduction to Meditation

What Is Meditation?

Meditation refers to a state where your body and mind are consciously relaxed and focused. Practitioners of this art report increased awareness, focus, and concentration, as well as a more positive outlook in life.

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 living room!

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 activity clears the mind of debris and prepares it for a high-quality life.

The negative thoughts you have: those of noisy neighbours, bossy officemates, that parking ticket you got, and unwanted spam are said to contribute to the “polluting” of the mind. Shutting them out allows the “cleansing” of the mind. Then, you may focus on deeper, more meaningful thoughts.

Some practitioners even shut out all sensory input; no sights, no sounds, and nothing to touch. Try to detach themselves from the commotion around them. You may now focus on a deep, profound thought if this is your goal. It may seem deafening at first since we are all too accustomed to always hearing and seeing things, but as you continue this exercise, you will find yourself becoming more aware of everything around you.

The Positions

If you find the meditating positions, you see on television threatening those with impossibly arched backs, and painful-looking contortions you don’t worry. The principle here is to be in a comfortable position conducive to concentration. You can do it 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

The place you perform meditation should have a soothing atmosphere. It may be in your living room, or bedroom, or any place where you feel comfortable. You might want an exercise mat if you plan to take on the more challenging positions (if you feel more focused on 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 that 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 monks you see on television making those monotonous sounds are performing their mantra. This mantra, in simple terms, is a short creed, a simple sound which, for these practitioners, holds a mystic value.

You don’t need to perform such; 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.

The principle here is the focus. You could also try focusing on a particular object or thought, or even, while keeping your eyes open, focus on a single sight.

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.

Conclusion

In all, meditation is a relatively risk-free activity, 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 on the body. And there has been a growing consensus in the medical community to study the impact of such further. So soon, who knows, that mystical, esoteric thing we call meditation might become a science itself!

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