Meditation can be confusing. If you look up meditation on Wikipedia or even in the English dictionary it tells you that meditation is to focus your mind. What does that mean, and why should you even be thinking about doing it?
In a nutshell meditation is a way of altering the state of your mind and taking it to a better state, or a more desirable state. Meditation is a way to cope with every day life, manage stress and anxiety and keep your mind in a state you want it to be in….Rather than a noisy mess!
With regular practice, meditation offers a great way to clear your mind, relieve stress and understand your thoughts and mind patterns more clearly. Giving you insight into the way your mind actually works.
It isn’t easy. Meditation is about trying to clear your mind of all thought, and thinking about absolutely nothing is a lot harder than it sounds, try it now.
Meditation does takes practice but in reality, anyone can learn to meditate.
Types of meditation
There are different types of meditation, with different names but most have the same goal, to stop your mind from racing with thought after thought and get your mind into a more desirable state.
Although there’s loads of different names, there are really only two different types of meditation that people in the West use:
- Focused meditation – Unsurprisingly this involves focusing on one thing, and one thing only… It could be a sound, an object or something else to try and clear your mind of rogue thoughts. Focused meditation is actually an alternative to what takes monks years to do, which is to focus on nothing for long periods of time. Its actually a lot more difficult than you think. You are trying to live in the present and switch your thoughts off completely for a little while!
- Open monitoring meditation – open monitoring is quite the opposite of focused meditation. Instead of trying to clear your mind, you just it back and listen to your thoughts. You don’t think about them, or judge whats going on, just listen and let them come and go. Be aware of what your thoughts are, but don’t do anything about it. just let them wash in and out of your mind and try and study what emotions they are causing. You need to become an observer of the comings and goings in your mind and eventually all the noise will go and you will just be left with peace and still. Mindfulness is actually a form of open monitor meditation.
What are the benefits of Meditation?
People used to think that meditation was only for hippies and lunatics. It was just seen as some kind of witchcraft crap that did nothing. But modern times bring new thinking and new science.
Science has shown that meditation actually does work. It helps with all sorts of illnesses that modern medicine doesn’t have answers for.
The main benefits to meditation are:
- Controls anxiety
- Better focus
- Improved creativity
- Reduce stress
- Improve attention span
- Improve memory
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreases tension in your mind and body
- Improve mood
- Gives a better understanding of your mind and body
- Improve the health of your mind, body and soul
Is meditation scientifically proven?
Has science proved anything about meditation? Science has been fascinated with meditation ever since the western world discovered it. It wasn’t actually until the seventies when science began to wonder what the hell was going on.
Until the 1970’s science (and everyone else) looked at meditation as some kind of religious, hippy nuttery. Then a guy called Herbert from Harvard university decided to investigate meditation and find out once and for all if meditation actually did anything.
In his papers, he discovered what the eastern world had known for thousands of years….That meditation came with massive benefits like lower blood pressure, reduced stress and generally better health.
So what does modern science think of meditation?
People have been hooked up to all kinds of machines and tests to find out what exactly meditation is doing. Modern instruments are obviously a lot more accurate and capable than they were in the 1970’s. As such we can now peer into the brain and see what’s going on when someone meditates.
Given that meditation clearly does help with lots of ailments I wish I could tell you that there is reams of proof but even after all the tests through the ages, there is still no scientific evidence that meditation is any more effective than drugs when treating anxiety or stress.
It has been shown however that meditation does change the structure of the brain, so there is really something happening, science just isn’t really sure what it is.
Can Meditation hurt you?
No. At the worse you will fall asleep and at best meditation will change your life.
How to Meditate now!
Meditation takes practice and a patience but anyone can learn to meditate. When Buddhists sit and meditate they sit comfortably, in a quiet place and they clear their mind of everything. They then sit thinking of absolutely nothing for hours on end.
Sounds easy right?
Just try it now, even for a couple of minutes….Or a couple of seconds! Its almost impossible for most normal people to think of nothing for any length of time.
The monks of the world have practiced meditation for years, its one of their only goals in life, and is still difficult for them to do, so we have no chance! We need an easier way to meditate at home.
Luckily there are easier methods to start meditating. They still take practice, but they are easier. Here is a very simple way to get started today.
First get rid of distractions. Turn the TV off. Sit quietly in a comfortable position, on a chair maybe, but you don’t want to fall asleep, so comfy but upright is good.
Your aim here is to try focused meditation.
Close your eyes and breath normally, don’t try to control your breathing, just breath normally.
Remember your aim here is to focus on one thing and one thing only. In this case, your breathing but if you would like to try something else you could try focusing on one word or an object or a sound or anything really, the principle is the same every time, to focus your mind on one thing.
Right, lets give this a go. Start by just noticing your breathing. Whats going on? focus on what is happening. Feel the air filling your lungs, stretching your ribs. Then escaping out of your lungs and through your nose.
And the cycle starts again.
Try to focus only on your breath. Your mind probably will wonder and you will find yourself thinking of other things, and that’s fine, its natural. Every time you notice it happening just bring your focus back to your breathing cycle. Staying focused is quite difficult when you first start practicing meditation but it gets easier with practice.
When you first start you will only be able to focus for a minute or two at the most without your mind wandering to other thoughts but stick with it and you should be able to meditate for longer and longer periods.
Meditation will change your life!
Meditation will change your life. Meditate every day to see the benefits of this amazing, free gift.