So what exactly is meditation and what does it do?
Meditation is a difficult phenomenon to describe in words: the experience is simple, yet has a profound effect on our entire being. Meditation can help us tap into the powerful source within that connects us to the present moment, and can help us to settle deeply into our center.
Connecting with and operating from our center gives us the opportunity to live our life with more joy, clarity, purpose and creativity.
When we operate from our center, we are pure potential.
There is enough scientific evidence to prove the many benefits of meditation. Meditation does wonders for physical and mental health: it enhances productivity, and helps to combat stress. Congressman Tim Ryan and Cory Booker are fans. CEOs Mark Bertolini, Jeff Weiner, and John Mackey are among many who practice meditation regularly.
So what exactly is meditation and what does it do?
Our daily lives are made up of thoughts, emotions, and reactions to our past experiences, our immediate circumstances, or our future worries. By practicing meditation, we can simply begin to watch our thoughts and emotions, without attaching to them, like watching cars passing by on the street. This quality of awareness can change our lives. A regular meditative practice helps us get in touch with our intuitive capacity, and helps us distinguish between the inner voice that guides us to the highest good, and all the other voices that we have internalized from our environment that don’t serve us well.
Here are different kinds of meditation techniques to help you get started:
A simple, but effective and technique is called “insight meditation” or vipassana. By sitting in silence, and watching our breath, we are able to disconnect from all our thoughts and emotions. By allowing this space within us, we allows ourselves to get an insight into what is real.
Slowly this can become a way of life, where we are mindful about everything around us, from walking, to eating, to working around others.
Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen Buddhist monk and author, recommends an exercise in the form of this poem, to help with our practice of mindfulness:
Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.
Breathing in, I see myself as a flower
Breathing out, I feel fresh
Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain
Breathing out, I feel solid
Breathing in, I see myself as still water
Breathing out, I reflect things as they are
Breathing in, I see myself as space
Breathing out, I feel free
This is a great way to start your day and it takes less than ten minutes. Repeat each of these sets five to ten times every morning for a week and see how you feel. If you find that this exercise resonates with you, incorporate it in your daily schedule.
The premise of active meditations is to release stress and pent-up emotions to allow ourselves to gain access to the silence within. Active meditations are powerful techniques that can help release years of suppressed thoughts, emotions, stresses, and toxins out of the system.
Meditators who practice active meditation experience an immense freedom, joy and lightness in their body and mind as a result of these techniques. Active meditations were introduced by the Indian mystic Osho as a way to give support to stressed-out individuals who were releasing and breaking old patterns in a conscious and safe manner.
Guided meditations are a great way to start your meditation practice. They usually are a combination of soothing music and gentle voices that guide us through specific issues: healing, stress relief, spiritual growth and many others.
Typically, guided meditations begin with relaxing our minds and bodies, then include affirmations or visualization techniques that allow us to release the negative thought-patterns our subconscious might be holding onto.
Over time, these thought patterns begin to dissolve, allowing us to experience calm, clarity and a more positive outlook towards life.
There are also many other meditative techniques taught at yoga studios or community centers such as crystal bowl, transcendental, kundalini and many more. If these involve sitting in silence perhaps you can participate in them after a rigorous workout or dancing. This will calm your body down and as a result, sitting will be easier.
What role does meditation play in your life? Please share your experiences.
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Assistant Ed: Bronwyn Petry/Ed: Bryonie Wise
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