What do you think of when you hear the word meditation? Many people say they think of Buddhist monks kneeling for long periods of time, skinny people twisting their bodies in strange yoga positions, strong incense smells and unrecognizable sounds, and something that only the religious or new age type person does. But this is not necessarily true. Anyone can learn to meditate. It can be done anywhere and anytime with no special preparation. You don't have to be on top of a mountain in a foreign country.
People meditate for various reasons. Someone in a ministry position might meditate as a way to get in touch with his God. Others meditate for health or relaxation reasons and meditation is often incorporated with yoga. For some people, meditation is part of their daily routine - a way to release negative feelings, calm their emotions, and relieve their stress. Life today seems more hectic, busy, and stressful than any other time before. It seems everyone needs something to make his life better. Meditation can improve the quality of your life if you follow these easy steps.
- Practice and be consistent. Meditation does not come naturally for most people. It is hard for us to sit still, be quiet and stop thinking. Experts recommend you start just a few minutes a day and then build up to longer periods as you become more comfortable. It is not something you master by trying just once or twice. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.
- Select the proper space. The most important thing in selecting a place to meditate is it needs to be quiet and free from distractions. You do not have to be in a religious setting but some people do set up altars at home. But if you don't have space for that, it's OK. I've meditated in a closet before. The experts recommend that you use the same space each day. This helps you establish a pattern. Sometimes our jobs and lives do not permit this. The place you pick to meditate is not as important as the actual meditating.
- Be comfortable. Many people cannot sit on their knees for even a few minutes. Just getting on the floor is difficult for some. Sitting on a cushion can help or you can meditate in a chair if that is better for you. The point is you don't have to be in a certain position. You just have to be relaxed and comfortable. This includes temperature. If you are too hot or too cold, that is what you will be thinking about.
- Calm your mind by focusing on your breathing. This is the hardest step for most people. Try to breathe deeply and slowly. When you breathe out, you should try to release negative feelings and anything you are concerned about. Don't dwell on these. Now is not the time to figure out a plan or decide how to solve your problems. When breathing in, try to fill your mind with positive thoughts and energy.
- Train your thoughts. If you do not learn how to shut everything else out, the meditation probably will not be as beneficial for you. You have to determine that you are not going to allow yourself to do other things in your mind or lose control of your thoughts. When you find your mind wandering, acknowledge this, and then immediately refocus your thoughts on your breathing again. Sometimes people ask what they should think about when meditating. Actually you should try not to think about anything. But this is really hard for most people. It does get easier with regular practice.
- Experiment with different ways of meditating. If you do a search online or read about meditating, you will learn there are many things you can do. Different methods work better for different people. The only way to discover which method works best for you is to experiment.
- Pick an object to meditate on. Some people burn candles or incense. Focusing on the flame gives you something else to think about. The warmth and the smell can help you to relax. Meditating beside a fountain works well. Water is known to have healing properties and the sound can be very soothing. You could try focusing on one spot on the wall or looking straight into a mirror. You are trying to be still and focus, not looking around the room. Some people close their eyes and do not look at anything.
- Repeat prayers or meditations. Some people say a prayer or have devotion before they meditate. Others incorporate everything into one. You need to figure out what is best for you. There are many books that provide readings to prepare you for meditation; usually these are based on a certain situations or needs. Some people say the same prayer or chant over and over. Others hold beads or religious symbols. Use whatever makes you feel calm, relaxed and keeps your mind from wandering.
- Meditate outside. If you can find an appropriate spot outside, this often provides a natural environment conducive to relaxing. Sights, sounds and scents are abundant. Many people feel closer to God when outside. Meditating during a sunrise or sunset can be an incredible experience. The same rules apply. You need to be comfortable, control your breathing, and release your negative energy.
Studies have shown that meditating does relieve your stress and improves your health. It is hard to be upset or angry when you are calm, focused and breathing deeply. You can even use some of these techniques when you are at work, traveling away from home, or anywhere you feel the need to be calm. This can be done in restrooms or even in crowded places. Stop, calm down, take some deep breaths and center your thoughts. Taking just a minute to do this during a stressful situation can be beneficial.