Breaking The Taboo Of Meditation
What is Meditation?
Meditation is difficult to define, not because it is an unknown practice but instead because it is a very lucid practice. Basically meditation is the action of paying attention with the purposeful intent of gaining self-insight, peace, calmness, and a better sense of one’s whole person.
Meditation seeks to “repair” the stresses on the self that occur during the daily routine of dealing with life, work, family, and friends. Meditation is a skill in the way that practice improves one’s ability to meditate. As compared to exercise, any level or commitment to meditation is healthy, just as and added daily movement provides positive health benefits, and the practitioner with daily activities can become more proficient at meditation over time. Think of meditation as a moment fully dedicated to yourself, pulling in your senses from observing the outside world and instead viewing your inside world.
Where Does Meditation Come From?
All major forms of religion and thought contain some version of the practice of meditation. However, it is most commonly equated with the eastern religions from India and Japan. The Hindu school of thought Vedantism contains some of the earliest written records of meditation. Along with the growth of yoga to the west during the early 20th century, so to did eastern forms of meditation bloom in western industrial centers. Certain businesses such as finance and healthcare adopted meditation as a way to help with pain, anxiety, stress, depression, and general well-being.
Forms of meditation can be found in all major religions including Hindu, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, pagan and occult practices, and modern and new age spirituality practices. Though the actual practice may differ in physical methods the underlying purpose and intent stay similar, as do the physical and mental health benefits.
Is There A Single Way To Meditate?
No, there is no single way to meditate. Meditation is a means of transforming the mind and body into a deeper and more connected singular being. In Buddhist traditions meditation is meant to foster great concentration, calmness, mental clarity, and general positivity. However, no single practice of meditation does not mean that all types of meditation are useful for a single person.
The practice of meditation is the practice of a system of physical and mental steps. If these steps become learned patterns and habits you can fully immerse yourself in your mind knowing that your physical body is ready to accept that full meditative state. There are limitless variations of all types of meditation practices because there are limitless numbers of ways to fully immerse yourself in your own headspace.
The two most common general categories of meditation (though not fully inclusive) are focused-attention meditation and mindful meditation. In focused-attention meditation you pay attention and focus on a particular thing. This “thing” could be a mantra, an emotion, a person, an experience, a feeling, a picture, your breath or anything that allows you to derive your goal’s benefits.
In mindful meditation you are doing the exact opposite in a sense. Instead of focusing on a singular point, the purpose of mindful meditation is to be aware of all that is going on inside of you. You could call it allowing your mind to wander. However, it is best to think of it as noticing your inner world without reacting. You are being aware without directing the path.
Often practiced in studios there are many forms of ancient and traditional meditation practices. I have personally explore them all. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Zen Meditation: For the purpose of developing presence this is a practice of reflective sitting and rhythmic breathing
- Mantra Meditation: the rhythmic beating of a mantra (repeated word) can allow for a deeper meditative state
- Transcendental Meditation: Two daily twenty-minute mantra based meditation
- Yoga Asanas Meditation: Certain poses rely on meditative states including corpse pose
- Vipassana Meditation: The use of concentration to find insight in truth and our absolute realities
- Chakra Meditation: Focused attention at what is blocking our chakras from flowing natural like a mill wheel spinning from the flow of the water
- Qigong Meditation: Similar to chakras, this meditation focuses on the flow of energy through the body’s key meridians
- Sound Bath Meditation: Similar to mantra meditation sound bath meditation uses bowls, gongs, or other instruments that believe that the rhythmic vibrations can allow for a deeper meditative state
- Yoga Breathing and Meditation Method: Uses breathwork, mantra and visualization. This is an integrative and holistic practice with amazing results.
What Are The Benefits Of Meditation?
Meditation has been studied by academics and health specialist for decades and significant research into brain activity using fMRIs has yielded significant results that show the vast benefits of meditation. Your brain goes through a significant transformation when you’ve entered a meditative state. Generally, what happens is that your brain stops processing new information. This can be seen by scientists through fMRIs as a drastic decrease in beta waves. Beta waves are produced when our brains are processing information. What does this do to the brain and body?
- You have less anxiety.
- You are more creative.
- You are more compassionate.
- You have a better memory.
- You have less stress.
- Your brain has more grey matter.
Your brain physically changes as you gain experience and proficiency at meditation. Think of it this way. When you are anxious your body tenses up. It is hard to function and physically deal with the world around you. The same is happening in your brain. The physical connections in your brain tighten and become more rigid the more stress and anxiety you have. Meditation allows you to shut your brain down allowing those connections to loosen. When your brain is less tense it works better.
Is Meditation Right For Me?
Meditation as a practice is simple. However, simplicity doesn’t equal easy. Meditation is a learned and practiced activity. However, you don’t need to spend hours a day in quiet reflection to gain the benefits mentioned above. Like any healthy exercise or other daily activity, even two minutes a day of simple meditation is a beautiful start to producing benefits. For the best chances to find a type and form of meditation that works in your life and for your goals, coaching is always recommended.
Master your mind and you will master your life.