Many people picture a pose with legs crossed, a straight back, fingers joined together, eyes closed, chanting words while trying to forget their thoughts. It really doesn’t seem like fun when you think about it. First of all, who has the flexibility to even sit like that? Does sitting alone, chanting words you don’t even understand while trying to forget the almighty ‘to-do’ list even work?
With the demands of modern day life, so many people are feeling stressed, over-worked, tired, and most of all, unhappy. It often feels like there is not enough time in our day to get everything accomplished and meditation would be last on the list. So, what’s the answer? There are many myths around meditation and one of them is how you can actually meditate. The word meditation is defined in the dictionary as “to engage in contemplation or reflection.” With different styles of meditation, it’s best to find one that works best for you. Although each style is different and unique, they all have benefits when it comes to our emotional well-being. Let’s take a look at some of the different styles.
Reflective meditation is somewhat an analytical type of meditation. It’s to gain insight on the meaning of life, death, relationships, and to reflect upon it to try and arrive at a conclusion. This type of meditation works best in our day-to-day lives while trying to be attentive to any personal or professional questions we might have. It helps us discover creative solutions to inner conflicts so we can arrive at a conclusion.
A very different approach to meditation as it allows you to think about your inner-self and ponder all of its facets. It’s simply asking questions about yourself such as ‘why am I here’, ‘what am I meant to do’, and ‘what is my purpose in life’. It’s about being silent, asking, and then listening for the answers that come from within. Often, when we are quiet and still, the answers come to us in order to give direction.
I like to suggest this type of meditation because most people think that meditation is only about being still. Think of walking as a meditation in action. We keep our awareness with the actual movements of walking and yes, we keep our eyes open. Unlike a seated meditation where we withdraw ourselves from the outside world, we are focusing ourselves on being mindful of each movement, breath, and the silence of nature. This type of mediation is easier to start with as being aware of the bod and its movements is the first step in becoming more mindful. We can also easily fit it into our lives as walking is a big part of most of our lives whether we’re walking from one room to another, or going for a 25km hike.
We spend a vast majority of our lives living in the past and future but never in the present. This is one of the many ways that I meditate as it allows me to be centered and be in the moment. When you shift your focus to the breath, by observing the breath coming in and going out, you are immediately brought into the present moment. Our breath and body are interconnected and when our body is calm, our breath is therefore calm.
When doing breathe meditation, it is best to do it seated in a comfortable position, seated upright. The reason for sitting upright is that you do not fall asleep and also to facilitate the upward movement of the life force called ‘prana’, of which the breath is a manifestation. Whether you sit on the floor with a cushion or in a chair, it’s important that you are comfortable. If you sit on the floor and your legs fall asleep or you feel they are uncomfortable, your focus will be on the legs and not the breath.
This is another form of mediation that I practice. The word ‘Mantra’ can be defined as, “a word or phrase that is repeated often or that expresses someone’s basic beliefs.” There are many different types of mantra’s out there which are used for various purposes. Mantra meditation has two essential components; mindfulness meditation and chanting mantras.
For many, mantra meditation serves a deeper spiritual purpose and it’s important to acknowledge the reason you want to perform mantra meditation. Rather than focusing on the breath, you focus on a word or phrase to calm the mind. You don’t need to chant the word aloud as you can repeat the phrase inward and quietly. It’s important to identify and create an affirmation that has meaning to you as you can relate to it’s significance.
After sitting in a comfortable position, you can chant your mantra aloud or inward or transition to silent meditation. Sometimes it’s better to listen to your body and just go with the flow. Don’t force your body to do something it doesn’t want to do. The important thing to remember is that some meditations will be good and others not so good. Give in to this and accept it.
You could either continue chanting your mantra for the entire duration of your meditation or transition to silent meditation. Just listen to your body and go with the flow. Sometimes you may desire to continue chanting. Other times, you may wish to meditate in silence. The key is to avoid forcing your mind and body to do something it doesn’t want to . You could continue with your mantra meditation for as long as you’d like. Some meditation days turn out to be good while others become frustratingly bad. Accepting this fact will help your mantra meditation techniques to be successful.
As you can see, these are just a handful of ways of meditating. One size does not fit all. The key is to find something that works for you that will help you grow spiritually and live life happily.
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