HOW TO MEDITATE
Meditating means to think deeply, turn the attention inward, or concentrate on an object or awareness. Many people confuse the term meditation with losing oneself in one thoughts, or taking time to think about the long day ahead of you (or behind you). But you may even feel more anxious if you are thinking about unpaid bills or an uncertain future.
“True” meditation refers to a more structured exercise that originated from Eastern religions and cultures where it has been practiced for more than 5,000 years. Many people who practice meditation in the Western world want to reach a state of deep relaxation and renew their energy and spirit. Meditation techniques combine posture, breathing, and contemplation, and are simple to follow, no matter how demanding your schedule or limited your space.
Meditation has many benefits, but it need not be a goal-based exercise. In fact, it may be best not to set goals and expectations for your meditation practice. You can start slowly by meditating a few minutes each day – clearing your mind of everything but your communication with yourself. You may find that meditation gives you time to escape for a few minutes and then to go back to your routine feeling refreshed and reinvigorated.
Besides practicing the techniques for meditation yourself, you can teach them to your loved one, who may practice alone or share the moments of silence and deep contemplation with you. (There’s no limit to how many times a day you can meditate, it is limited only by your time). Meditation may not be physically daunting, but does require concentrated breathing and mental focus. Depending upon your loved one’s condition, you may want to speak with his or her healthcare professional before having them embark on a meditation practice.
Objective of Meditation
The primary objective of meditating may be to put yourself in touch with the inner you, to help you to tap into your own individual strengths and healing powers. While there are books, articles, and courses that promise meditation will help you achieve your dreams and goals, get rich, and conquer disease, you may find the best outcome from mediation is the time you remove yourself from the stress and daily demands that may interfere with your inner serenity. Meditation may also be a great way for you to clear your mind at the end of each day and help you fall asleep.
How to Meditate: Step by Step
Close your Eyes
To meditate, you need only close your eyes wherever you are and focus fully on yourself – body and mind. This may be easier to accomplish if you can sit in a favorite spot where you won’t be distracted. But many people, once they learn the practice, meditate while riding the subway or waiting for a doctor’s appointment.
Breathe Deeply and Regularly
Breathing deeply fills you with life-enhancing oxygen and helps your brain to visualize the images you send it. Breathe in slowly while counting mentally to 10, hold your breath for the count of 10, and then breathe out slowly for 10 seconds. Continue this regular, deep breathing – and focus on your breaths – until you feel the effects of the oxygenation (more oxygen reaching your brain).
Focus on your Body
While you are exhaling and inhaling, focus on softening and relaxing every part of your body. With your eyes still shut, think of your feet and toes and “will” them to relax. Think of relaxing your legs, your fingers, your arms, and your upper body. Finally, let go of the tension in your neck and ears – right up to the top of your head.
Rid Yourself of Random Thoughts
To rid yourself of the random, anxiety-producing thoughts that are buzzing around in your mind, you need to replace them with something. To do this, some people concentrate on a visual image, such as a candle, a flower or a beautiful scene. Some people repeat a sound or a word; others listen to relaxing music CDs that reproduces the sounds of nature.
Visualize a beautiful lake or other scenery from a trip that you loved, for instance, and let your mind’s eye dwell deeply on the scene, recalling every detail, including the sounds of the waves, the chirp of birds, the aroma of pine needles or flowers, the feel of the grass under your bare feet or the coolness when you dipped your hand into the pond. The sensory details will etch it deeper into your mind. Focus on the picture for as long as you can before random thoughts intrude.
Concentrate on an Object
Instead of using scenery to clear the mind, some people find that reading a few passages from a favorite book or poem, or looking at an object such as a memento or photo associated with a time of happiness, helps them to cross from a tense mental state to one of relaxation and calm.
Concentrate on a Sound
Instead of visualization, some people find that repeating a sound or group of sounds can help them meditation. You might prefer to concentrate on a few words from a favorite poem or a psalm. Listening attentively to classical music, blues, or soft jazz transports others.
Focus on Positive Thoughts
Now that your body has relaxed, your lungs and brain are filled with air, and you have used your mental picture or object to take you deeper into yourself, you may be perfectly happy to simply remain in this state of calm and relaxation for as long as you can and then slowly return to the real world.