Meditation is among the most trusted of the body-mind-spirit practices.
It dates back thousands of years as a method of calming your mind, relaxing, connecting with your higher self, and finding peace.
Every moment of every day, our minds fill to overflowing with whirling thoughts that grow louder with our chaotic living. Taking time for stillness can be one of the best things you can do for yourself.
While ancient in its origins, modern meditation has evolved to suit these modern times, and is generally far less strict than traditional approaches used by yogis, monks, and other religious devotees.
Most people no longer have the opportunity to spend long periods devoted to their spirituality. The good news is that you don't need a lot of time for meditation to enjoy the positive effects it can have on your life.
THE MODALITIES OF MEDITATION
There are many different forms of meditation, and ultimately, it's up to you to determine what resonates best with you.
Here are some different ways you can meditate, depending on whether you prefer a little guidance to help stay on track; To repeat affirmations to yourself to instill a powerful message into your psyche; Or, if you love getting the blood moving while easing your mind, body and soul into perfect alignment…
Guided Meditation ties into Visualization, where you listen to a teacher or a recording guiding you through the steps of the meditation session.
Mantra Meditations focus on the repetition of a word or a short phrase. By chanting aloud or repeating it in your mind, this mantra assists in calming your thoughts and maintaining your focus. This approach also applies to Transcendental Meditation.
Mindful Meditation directs your attention to being present in the moment. It encourages you to release your worries about the past, or from getting caught up in future plans. Just to be here in the now. Mindful meditation often includes slow, paced breathing for improved awareness.
Active Meditation blends movement with your mindful thought-clearing techniques. Ancient Eastern cultures elevated this to an artform, encompassing the disciplines across many beautiful practices.
- Qigong uses movement and breathing for restoring personal balance.
- Tai Chi has paced postures and movements intended to create muscle memory and thoughtful reactions.
- Yoga joins the two practices of harnessing measured breaths with a sequence of poses.
DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN MEDITATION AND VISUALIZATION
People may use the terms Visualization and Meditation interchangeably, but they are two different systems that sometimes dance together.
While Visualization is an active practice, Meditation is "at rest."
You must be alert in Visualization, whereas Meditation is less body-oriented and more geared toward your consciousness.
Meditation often has similar results to Visualization, but it has a stronger intent… Namely getting our body into deep rest for healing and renewal.
Visualization strives to reprogram your mind by "seeing" within. It’s often used for calming fears, improving self-confidence, and manifesting specific goals. Athletes and public speakers both often use visualization to aid performance.
THE MEDITATION PROCESS
- First, find a quiet space where you won't be interrupted easily.
- Wear comfortable clothes, and lie on the floor or sit in a chair.
- Turn your attention to the pattern of your breathing. Listen to it; feel it.
- Slowly expand your thoughts to all your senses. What do you hear, for example?
- Step back and observe your thoughts. Try to stick with ONE keynote.
- Keep yourself from rolling into a network of other ideas. If that starts happening, return to breathing again.
- The flow of your breath should be slow, deep, and even.
- As you continue this cycle, your shoulders and upper back naturally begin relaxing- We hold a lot of stress and tension in our upper back and shoulders.
It's important to note that what works for someone else in meditation may not work for you. It may take time, testing, and practice to land on the perfect combination of setting, breath pattern, focus, and comfort.
What is most important is including it as part of your daily routine, akin to taking a vitamin for your soul.
Your life is probably in a constant state of motion. Walking meditations takes advantage of that reality. In this case, the experience of walking becomes the core of your meditation. Your eyes are not closed, nor are you avoiding thoughts and images from outside yourself.
- As you move, think about the sun on your face, a light drizzle of rain, birds' sounds, a gust of wind. This catapults you into the present moment.
- You can add walking meditations into even small gaps in your daily routine very easily, making it convenient and practical.
- Walking meditations helps you become tuned in to your everyday life in a different way.
Beyond a sense of peace and improved self-awareness, meditation has a lot of benefits. You can reduce your stress, get new perspectives, and filter off negative ideas.
People find meditation improves their creativity, global thinking, and tolerance. Your experience will be personal. You may want to keep a meditation journal describing your experience. Go back and read it from time to time to see how you've grown and changed in beautiful ways.