Meditation refers to the art of engaging in a variety of practices that ensure harmonious mind and body integration. The art also involves letting go of all the efforts to relax into one’s true nature which is love, joy, and peace- all of which seek to enhance overall well-being. The practice of meditation dates back thousands of years, with many meditative techniques believed to have begun in Eastern traditions. Meditation, although historically rooted in religion, can be both a religious and non-religious activity.
There is no one correct way to meditate. There are many ways to meditate depending on which method works best for the individual. Although several forms of meditation exist, experts find the following processes common to different kinds and practices of meditation.
Forms of Meditation
Mindfulness meditation: This form of meditation is based on being mindful. It is about staying aware of what’s happening at the moment rather than letting your mind wander and worrying about the past or future. In mindfulness meditation, one broadens his or her conscious awareness. The focus is on what is experienced during meditation, such as the flow of breath, etc. Although one can observe thoughts and emotions during mindfulness meditation, one is advised to let them pass without judgment.
Guided meditation: Guided meditation is also sometimes referred to as guided imagery or visualization. With this method of meditation, one forms mental images of places or situations he or she finds relaxing. This nonreligious form of meditation can happen with an individual or a group of people. It’s a common technique in counseling, therapy, and group support systems.
Mantra meditation: This kind of meditation involves repeating a specific word, phrase, or sound, either silently or aloud. Mantra meditation helps to prevent distracting thoughts.
Transcendental meditation: Transcendental meditation is a natural technique in which one silently repeats a personally assigned mantra in a specific way. This form of meditation comes from India and is non-religious. Transcendental meditation may allow the body to settle into a state of profound rest. It also allows the mind to achieve a state of inner peace, without needing to use concentration or another effort.
Body-centered meditation. This form of meditation focuses on the physical sensations one can feel throughout the body. It involves using what is felt as a foundation for an awareness of the immediate world. Body-centered meditation is sometimes called self-scanning.
Yoga: Yoga is a physical form of meditation and exercise that originates from India. In yoga, one performs a series of postures and breathing exercises to promote a more flexible body and a calm mind. As one moves through poses that require concentration and balance, one tends to focus more on the moment than on the stress of life. Yoga meditation can take on religious as well as nonreligious forms.
Elements of Meditation
Different types of meditation may require a combination of different elements or features. However, some elements are common to a variety of meditation forms and practices.
Focused attention. Focusing one’s attention is one of the most important elements of meditation. Focused attention is what helps to free the mind from the many distractions that cause stress and fatigue.
Relaxed breathing. This technique involves deep, even-paced breathing using the diaphragm muscle to expand the lungs. The purpose is to slow the pace of breathing and take in more oxygen to breathe more efficiently.
A quiet setting. All forms of meditation involve a quiet setting. Beginners are advised to learn the practice in a quiet spot with few distractions. As one gets skilled at meditation, then it can be practiced anywhere, especially in high-stress situations where the benefit of meditation can be realized the most.
Open attitude: To be successful in meditation, practitioners are encouraged to approach the art with an open mind and attitude. Thoughts should pass through the mind without judgment.
A comfortable position: It does not matter whether one is sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions or activities. What is important is to maintain a good posture during meditation and be comfortable during the process.
The ancient art of meditation is still prominent in modern times due to its benefits for health and overall well-being. Considering that today’s world presents a lot of stress for people, the art of meditation becomes more of a necessity than a luxury.
Information from www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858, www.artofliving.org/us-en/meditation, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17906-meditation was used in this story