Some of the earliest recordings of meditation practices date back to 1,500 BC, with other forms of meditation such as Buddhism, coming to light in later centuries. Japanese Buddhism grew from Chinese Buddhism during the Middle Ages, with Jewish meditation also growing during this time.
Today, Buddhism is familiar and accepted in most western cultures, with yoga schools starting up everywhere. Rather than focusing on the religion though, many people have taken to meditation mainly for its self-actualization, relaxing, and stress reducing qualities.
- 1 What is meditation?
- 2 Benefits of meditation
- 3 Meditation for beginners
- 4 How to meditate
- 4.1 Stick to it
- 4.2 Make it a part of your daily routine
- 4.3 Have a support system
- 4.4 Adjust your breathing
- 4.5 Make yourself a priority
- 4.6 Relax your body
- 4.7 Schedule your session for the end of the day
- 4.8 Know why you are meditating
- 4.9 Let your feelings go
- 4.10 Find a partner to meditate with
- 4.11 Develop your own way to meditate
- 4.12 Don’t stress
- 4.13 Concentrate
- 4.14 Find something to focus on
- 4.15 Have a special place to meditate
- 4.16 Change the things that don’t work for you
- 4.17 Prevent disturbances
- 5 Meditation techniques
- 6 Guided meditation
- 7 Meditation music
- 8 Mindfulness exercises
- 9 Types of meditation
- 10 Further Readings
What is meditation?
Meditation is practiced by thousands of people all over the world, for both religious and non-religious purposes. It is an activity that helps people to move from conscious thought, to enter a state of awareness and absolute relaxation.
Benefits of meditation
There are numerous benefits to doing meditation including:
- Lower stress levels
- Experiencing increased levels of consciousness
- Greater self-awareness
- Achieve better results at work and at school
- Becoming a better listener, with more compassion and understanding to others
- Helps to lower pain levels
- Reduces feelings of depression in pregnant women, and instead, makes them feel positive and empowered
- Improves your sleep
- Learning to accept yourself as you are
- Makes you wiser
- Brings your spirit, mind and body into harmony
- Gives you peace of mind
- Change your attitude and find your purpose in life
- Teaches you forgiveness
- Strengthens your capacity for love
- Enlightens you
- Helps you discover the power of your conscious mind
- Brings you closer to your God
Meditation for beginners
If you don’t know how to do meditation, then the following few tips should help you to get started:
- Simply sit still for two minutes each day for a week, gradually increasing the time each week, until you’re meditating for 10 minutes each day
- Do it every morning as you wake up
- Don’t worry about how to do it at first — just sit quietly somewhere that’s comfortable for you, and do it
- Make a mental note of how meditation is making you feel mentally and physically
- Breathe slowly, counting each time you inhale and exhale, to the count of ten, then start again
- Don’t worry if your mind wanders, simply start counting all over again. It is hard to focus in the beginning, but you will get the hang of it after a while
- Have a friendly attitude when you meditate, and approach all thoughts in a peaceful, friendly way
- There’s no perfect way to meditate, so don’t worry that you might be doing it wrong
- Although many people think that meditating is all about clearing the mind, it is not. It’s quite normal to think while your meditating, but practice focusing your attention on something, and you will get the hang of it eventually
- Get to understand how your mind works so that you can understand who you actually are as a person
- Develop a friendly attitude to yourself, and learn to love yourself without criticism
- Starting from the soles of your feet, focus on each part of your body, moving slowly all the way up to your hair, making a mental note of how each part feels
- Take time to notice the energy, light, and sounds around you, focusing on one each day during your meditation session
It’s not always easy or peaceful to meditate, but if you start today and carry on doing it for the rest of your life, you can enjoy the many fantastic benefits it provides.
How to meditate
There are a number of techniques and methods of meditation, all of which can help you to be successful, irrespective of the method you choose. Following, are some helpful hints and tips to help you enjoy your meditation session to the fullest:
Stick to it
meditation isn’t something you can do every-so-often. To enjoy the full benefits of meditation, you must do it on a regular basis for the rest of your life
Make it a part of your daily routine
the best way to be consistent with meditation is to make it a habit of your daily routine, preferably at the same time every day
Have a support system
at first, you might find it hard to keep to your meditation routine, so find some kind of support to help you keep at it. Your support can be in the form of keeping a journal, joining a meditation group, or getting a friend to join you in your activity, all of which will help you to achieve your goals
Adjust your breathing
start each session off by adjusting your breathing. By breathing slower, your heart will beat slower, your muscles will relax, and your mind will become more focused
Make yourself a priority
meditation will do much to improve your life in every way, so don’t be tempted to skip sessions, ever.
Relax your body
meditation requires you to sit motionless for a long time, which takes a lot of physical effort, believe it or not. Before starting, do some physical and passive stretching exercises to loosen the muscles in your body in preparation for the time you need to remain in one position
Schedule your session for the end of the day
meditating just before you go to bed each night will clear your mind and help you to relax completely after a hard day.
Know why you are meditating
know the reason why you are meditating, as this will help you to stay focused and engaged, and stop your concentration from wandering
- Start your day right with meditation — get up about an hour sooner than you normally do, and meditate for a few minutes
Let your feelings go
there might be times when you are doubtful about the reason why you are meditating, or that you can’t concentrate, and these feelings are quite normal. Instead of trying to fight them, just accept them and let them go
Find a partner to meditate with
even though many people believe that meditation should be done when you’re on your own, it might work better for you if you have a partner. You can prevent distracting each other by discussing before your session, how you’re going to meditate
Develop your own way to meditate
there are no hard and fast rules as to how you must meditate, so try different methods to find out what suits you best.
not all meditation sessions run smoothly, but don’t get all stressed out about it. If it doesn’t work too well one day, then forget about it and let it go. Just stick to your schedule, do your best, and it will eventually all fall into place
pay attention to your body during your session by focusing on each individual part, slowly making your way up your entire body as a whole
Find something to focus on
if you’re like some people, and prefer to keep your eyes open while you meditate, then try focusing on something in front of you, like a plant or a candle for example, to stop you from being distracted
Have a special place to meditate
have a spot in your home that makes you think immediately of meditating. Make it your special meditation place by burning incense, lighting candles, having a comfy cushion to sit on, and some soft and appropriate music playing in the background
Change the things that don’t work for you
change anything that doesn’t work for you while you’re meditating, whether physical or mental. You’ll find that these changes, however small, could make the world of difference to your meditation
any noises, like hooting cars or your phone ringing will snap you out of that deep and relaxed state. Avoid this by making sure that your special meditation place is free of outside noises
Most people have the idea that they won’t be able to meditate because they can’t sit still for too long, or they don’t have the time. However, there are different techniques that can help anyone to meditate for ten minutes, such as:
use one of the many online sources to get you going.
Staring at a candle
simply light a candle and stare at it if you have focusing problems.
saying the same words over and over again helps a lot to become calm and focused. You can choose words from online Sanskrit mantras, or you can make up some of your own, provided that they make you feel good.
simply think about a peaceful setting or being, and focus on that picture in your mind.
Present moment meditation
close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing for a few moments, and then start focusing on the rest of your body and the sensations your feeling. Broaden your concentration to anything that’s touching your body. Take it further and focus on everything you can sense and feel. Then do everything in reverse, step by step, until you’re again concentrating on your breathing.
Become the observer of your own mind
with your eyes closed, concentrate on the spot roughly an inch above your eyebrows. This is known as the Third Eye Chakra. Then start watching what your mind and body are thinking, doing and feeling.
With guided meditation your mind becomes completely relaxed, and it gives you the ability to escape for a while, into the world of your imagination. You might find it necessary if you’re doing it alone, like many people do, to have an audio recording playing at the same time, to help guide you through your session.
To enjoy the full benefits of guided meditation, it is best to sit comfortably on the floor in a quiet, peaceful setting, where there is nothing to disturb you. The audio recording will help all your senses to kick in so that you actually experience everything you’re thinking about.
For meditation to be successful, it is very important that you do it to meditation music. There are certain guidelines as to what type of music you choose for your meditation sessions, such as:
- There should be no lyrics to distract you
- It should be rhythmic, relaxing music, as well as simple and soothing
- Music played with Tibetan instruments is known to have meditative qualities
It is important that the music you choose encourages you into deep concentration, but not put you to sleep.
With mindfulness meditation exercises, you learn to be alert, which will help you to think and concentrate on everything you do. You will have more self-awareness, and become more relaxed, both mentally and physically. It is very important that you do these exercises in a setting that is comfortable, and totally free of any noise or distractions.
Following are the four different posture options for mindfulness exercises. You can use whichever one is most comfortable for you:
Just like other meditation techniques, it takes time to get used to mindfulness exercises. Don’t try to think of too many things when you first start. Take it slowly, and let things develop naturally. According to some people, it helps a lot to have peaceful music playing in the background when you first start these exercises.
Types of meditation
There are many different types of meditation, each with its own history and ways of practicing it. Following are a few popular forms of meditation practiced by many people all over the world.
also referred to as “insight meditation” and concentrates mainly on focusing on sensation
also called HRM and concerned mainly with the balancing of heartbeat and breathing
also referred in Japanese Buddhism as Zen. The word is derived from sitting meditation, and is unique to Zen Buddhism
is excellent for managing daily stress and achieving deep relaxation
combines the chanting of your mantras together with breathing and postures
an ancient Chinese form of meditation meaning “to achieve energy”
a simple method of meditation that’s ideal for beginners
Get into the good habit of meditating for just ten minutes each day, and the many benefits it provides will undoubtedly improve your life tremendously.