• Closer Look: What is Meditation?

    Thursday, July 18th, 2024

    by Mark Richards, Wellness Counselor

    meditationJust exactly what is meditation? As our modern lifestyle becomes more and more stressful, many people want to know how meditation can help them find inner peace.

    Most folks haven’t tried meditation yet, primarily because they don’t know exactly what it is. After all, how does a person get started with meditation? And can meditation really help someone feel better and enjoy better health?

    Roots of Meditation

    Meditation was first practiced by people in Asia as part of the Hindu and Buddhist religions. The roots of meditation can be traced back as far as the 12th century when one of the first teachings was done by a monk named Guigo II.

    There are several variants of meditation practices, which together are called the family of meditation practices. Those who meditate are taught to focus their minds until they achieve a higher state of consciousness. Meditation is usually practiced alone, in a quiet and peaceful place.

    Meditation means different things to different people and different cultures, so that’s why it’s hard to define. But it’s safe to say that meditation is a way to focus the mind in order to gain voluntary control over it.

    Benefits of Meditation

    Some of the benefits of meditation include learning how to relax and let stress go. This comes with achieving a more positive and accepting attitude towards life in general. Meditation can have positive effects on heart rate, blood pressure, metabolism, heart rate and breathing.

    People who meditate regularly often say that they feel more compassionate toward others and have a happier outlook about life in general. Through meditation, there is a heightened awareness of the nuances of life that allows people to be more optimistic and to find joy in the smallest of things.

    By clearing the mind, meditation can help a person make more informed and better decisions. Meditating regularly will help spur creativity, a helpful thing for people who require new ideas and inspiration to succeed at their jobs.

    Some other positives of meditation are an increase in self-acceptance and learning how to forgive yourself for past mistakes. By achieving your own inner peace, you may find that the people around you also become more accepting and loving. There will be a lot less friction in your relationships, both personally and professionally.

    Mastering One’s Thoughts

    Meditative practices take many forms, but the fundamental idea is that the person who is meditating tries to go beyond the normal processes of thinking and logic in order to achieve a deeper, more relaxed state of mind.

    Through meditation, one can learn to self-regulate the mind’s processes. There are a variety of health benefits that can come from mastering one’s thoughts.

    Why You Should Meditate

    The purpose of meditation is to get in touch with the spiritual essence within you. Experiencing this spiritual essence is known as enlightenment or nirvana. Health benefits like stress reduction, lowered blood pressure and metabolism boost can come through practicing meditation. Persons who have trouble sleeping may also benefit from meditating regularly.

    Meditation allows a person to become more aware of their unique spiritual nature. Meditating can become a pathway to seeing the world in a new and more profound manner. It can also improve your health by helping you to relax, reduce stress and promote natural healing.

    Getting Started: Meditation Groups and Meditation CD’s

    Guided meditation CD’s for beginners are a good way to learn basic relaxation techniques. Meditations focusing on gratitude and forgiveness are often effective for individuals just learning how to meditate.

    If you want to meditate at home, there is a beautiful guided meditation CD by Nithyananda that is often recommended for beginners. It consists of five steps, each taking around seven minutes each.

    Each step of the meditation will help you go deeper and calm the background noise in your mind. The techniques for this meditation originate from Tibetan Buddhist, Vedanta, Zen Buddhism, Sufism, and ancient Christianity.

    For those who want to enjoy meditation with others, Zen meditation groups usually have group zazen sessions several times a week. These sessions tend to be held quite early in the morning.

    Buddhist temples in your local area are another good way to find a meditation group. Group meditation sessions are normally held several times a day. While the techniques may vary, the underlying purpose and philosophy remains the same.

    An organization called the Life Bliss Foundation offers weekly Satsangs. Typically these gatherings start with a video on life issues and higher consciousness, and end with Nithya Dhyan.

    Eckhart Tolle Silent Groups are another meditation group resource. These meetings normally involve silent meditation for ten to fifteen minutes at the start of the session, repeated again at the end. In the interim a video is shown related to higher consciousness and the benefits of silence.

    As you can see, it’s not hard to get started with meditation. There are abundant resources in most communities to help you to find a supportive group of like-minded individuals.

    (published January 18, 2011)

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