Meditation-Types,Learning and Benefits

26 Nov
Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is widely recommended as a healthy way to manage stress, and for good reason. It provides many health-enhancing benefits, like reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety, relieving physical complaints like headaches, and even enhancing immunity to illness. (Read this article for more information on the health benefits of meditation.)

Basics of Meditation:

Meditation can be practiced in many different ways. While there are numerous different meditation techniques, a common thread runs through virtually all meditative techniques:

  • Quiet Mind: With meditation, your thinking mind becomes quiet. You stop focusing on the stressors of your day or your life’s problems, as well as solving these problems. You just let that voice in your head be quiet, which is easier said than done. For example, start thinking about nothing now. (It’s OK; I’ll wait.) If you’re not practiced at quieting your mind, it probably didn’t take long before thoughts crept in.
  • Being In The Now: Rather than focusing on the past or the future, virtually all meditative pracgtices involve focusing on right now. This involves experiencing each moment and letting it go, experiencing the next. This, too, takes practice, as many of us live most of our lives thinking toward the future or relishing and rehashing the past.
  • Altered State of Consciousness: With time, maintaining a quiet mind and focus on the present can lead to an altered level of consciousness that isn’t a sleeping state but isn’t quite your average wakeful state, either. Meditation increases brain activity in an area of the brain associated with happiness and positive thoughts and emotions, and some evidence shows that regular practice brings prolonged positive changes in these areas.

Types of Meditation Techniques:

Researchers generally classify meditation techniques into two different categories: concentrative, and non-concentrative. Concentrative techniques involve focusing on a particular object that’s generally outside of oneself: a candle’s flame, the sound of an instrument, or a particular mantra. Non-concentrative meditation, on the other hand, can include a broader focus: the sounds in one’s environment as well as internal body states and one’s own breathing. There can be overlap with these techniques, however; one meditation technique can be both concentrative and non-concentrative.

There are many, many different ways to meditate. Here I’ll mention some basic categories of meditation techniques so you can understand some of the main options and how they differ from one another. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it can give you some ideas.
  • Basic Meditation Techniques: This involves sitting in a comfortable position and just trying to quiet your mind by thinking of nothing. It’s not always easy to do this if you don’t have practice with it. But a good way to begin is to think of yourself as an ‘observer of your thoughts,’ just noticing what the narrative voice in your head says, but not engaging it. As thoughts materialize in your mind, just let them go. That’s the basic idea. (Here’s more on basic meditation.)
  • Focused Meditation Techniques: With this technique, you focus on something intently, but don’t engage your thoughts about it. You can focus on something visual, like a statue; something auditory, like a metronome or tape of ocean waves; something constant, like your own breathing ;or a simple concept, like ‘unconditional compassion’. Some people find it easier to do this than to focus on nothing, but the idea is the same — staying in the present moment and circumventing the constant stream of commentary from your conscious mind, and allowing yourself to slip into an altered state of consciousness.
  • Activity-Oriented Meditation Techniques: With this type of meditation, you engage in a repetitive activity, or one where you can get ‘in the zone’ and experience ‘flow.’ Again, this quiets the mind, and allows your brain to shift. Activities like gardening,creating artwork, or practicing yoga can all be effective forms of meditation. (See this article on walking meditation for specific instructions.)
  • Mindfulness Techniques: Mindfulness can be a form of meditation that, like activity-oriented meditation, doesn’t really look like meditation. It simply involved staying in the present moment rather than thinking about the future or the past. (Again, this is more difficult than it seems!) Focusing on sensations you feel in your body is one way to stay ‘in the now;’ focusing on emotions and where you feel them in your body (not examining why you feel them, but just experiencing them as sensations) is another. (Read this article for more on mindfulness.)
  • Spiritual Meditating: Meditation can also be a spiritual practice. (It does not have to be, and certainly isn’t specific to any one religion, but can be used as a spiritual experience.) Many people experience meditation as a form of prayer — the form where God ‘speaks,’ rather than just listening. That’s right, many people experience ‘guidance’ or inner wisdom once the mind is quiet, and meditate for this purpose. You can meditate on a singular question until an answer comes (though some would say this is engaging your thinking mind too much), or meditate to clear their mind and accept whatever comes that day.

In order to be a successful mediator you have to be gentle with yourself and
do a little meditating each day,until it comes as
naturally as breathing. Don’t give up, practice makes perfect. The most important part of the meditating process is to find a quiet place. Hopefully somewhere you won’t be disturbed. Find a comfortable place to sit. Sitting down on the floor on a cushion with legs crossed, shoulders back and your back straight is a good choice. But if sitting on the floor is not the best choice for you, then sit in a chair, feet flat on the floor, with your back straight and with your hands in front on you in a relaxed state. Take a deep breath and gently shut your eyes. Continue taking deep breaths. With each additional breath, you will begin to feel every part of your body relaxing. If your body is tight, know that you have to take your focus away from that area while continuing to breathe. Once you have cleared your mind and all is in a relaxed state, start a visualizing exercise, by taking your mind to a peaceful place. If you prefer to keep your mind clear simply go deeper into the meditative state, with deeper breaths

Continue breathing through the whole process. Focus on your breathing. Don’t try to control the breathing, let your body do what it does naturally. Refuse to let any thoughts interfere with your meditating. Return to your breathing. Breathe in. Now breathe out. Relax. After you let go of all the thoughts that come into your mind. Continue to breathe and soon you’ll reach a moment where all is peaceful and free. One who has learned how to meditate gets the opportunity to let go of all the stress that life has put on us. It allows you to be aware of the physical self, and gives your mind a place to rest. Meditation helps one surrender tension, tightness and struggles with the body. It gives you a place to turn when you get caught up in everyday responsibilities and you lose sight with where you are going. Meditation is your chance to connect with a higher being. It is your turn to listen to your guiding light. It is freedom from stresses of all types. Meditation is leaving the present and visiting the unknown.  
Meditation is medicine for the mind. 

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