In today’s world of multi-tasking and sensory overload, stress related problems are on the rise. Not wanting to rely on medication, many people are turning to meditation instead to combat these problems. Even the mainstream medical profession is now recognizing meditation as a solution.
Unfortunately for many people, ‘quietening the mind’ is quite difficult to achieve!RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Meditation classes are being offered in places from hospitals to churches. What you’ll experience in each will depend upon the teacher though. In one class you’ll be sitting with your legs crossed chanting a mantra. In another you’ll be lying on the ground listening to what resembles guided hypnosis. It can all be a bit confusing. So is there a best way to meditate?
How do we meditate?
Perhaps the answer to the best way to meditate can be found in the ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga’. Mediation is the seventh limb – not the first. Even before the invention of cars and technology, yogi’s recognized that going from one to seven required a process. Individuals needed to determine for themselves the best way to meditate.
The fifth limb
‘Withdrawal of senses’- Whether you’re meditating in a gym, or in a Zen garden, there’ll still be noise, light, and smells all around you. The fifth limb teaches that it’s not necessary to immerse yourself in a deprivation tank to meditate! It may take practice to stop reacting emotionally to your senses. Once you’ve achieved this however, you’re one step closer to meditating.
The sixth limb
‘Concentration upon a single object’. It can be external, such as a candle flame, or even something as simple as a paperclip. It can also be internal, using the imagination. Learning to concentrate on a single object, even for just a few minutes, can alleviate the stress of multi-tasking.
In the seventh limb
Meditation. It’s all about awareness. You’re no longer focusing on the object, you’re simply aware of it. You’re aware of yourself and of everything else. There are no thoughts of judgement or expectation; in fact there are no thoughts at all. Ceasing judgement of the past and worry for the future is being, ‘fully present and quietening the mind.’ This is meditation.
The effects of stress can differ from person to person, depending upon personality. Likewise, the best way to meditate can vary for the same reason. Someone who enjoys relaxing on the beach to the sights and sounds of the ocean would do well with guided imagery. Something like Yoga Nidra, a guided meditation practiced lying on the ground.
It might appear that someone with the ability to visualize would have a head start when it comes to meditation. That’s not always the case though. A vivid imagination can also be used to worry about the future; not much help when it comes to ‘being in the moment!’
We can practice meditation in different ways
Yoga in general is about consciously controlling the Chitta – a Sanskrit word meaning ‘workings of the mind’. Your emotions are the results of your thoughts, and your thoughts can be deliberately directed. In Yoga Nidra the imagination is used to direct light energy to the physical body. Your thoughts are then sent on a guided journey, deliberately creating positive emotional responses.
As wonderful as Yoga Nidra can be, there are many who find no appeal whatsoever in lying on the floor visualizing! No worries – guided imagery is only one way to meditate. You have five physical senses that can all be used to quieten the mind.
For the vocally inclined there’s the chanting of mantras. ‘Om mani Padme Hum’ is commonly used in Buddhist meditations. If you would prefer English, or any other language, just create a positive rhythmic sentence and repeat it over and over. An example would be, “Peace on Earth, and peace within me.”
With all the visual stimulation in society today, vision has become a primary sense for many people. Use this to your advantage. If you have a beautiful view from your window, lucky you. If not, gaze at a candle, a crystal or a picture of a beautiful scene. Focus on your breathing and relax your shoulders with every exhalation.
If you’re still thinking that you don’t have time to meditate, then you’ve missed one very important point here!
Why do we meditate?
The purpose of meditation is to be fully present, in the moment, with a clear mind. The goal is to have this experience in your life more often than not. It only takes one moment at a time to reach that goal.
No matter who you are, or how busy your life has become, you still have to eat don’t you? Make every meal a mindful experience. Even if you’re sitting in the parking lot with a brown bag in your lap, eat your sandwich consciously with every bite. Look at the food, notice the aroma and savor the taste.
Being out in the woods away from machinery, florescent lights, and chemical odors would be ideal of course. But that moment of ‘quietening the mind’ can happen at any time. The passing of a butterfly, the sound of laughter, a rainbow after a storm, they’re all opportunities to meditate, even if only briefly.
With practice you’ll come to enjoy meditating in the way that works best for you!
Read more with WatchFit Expert Maria Bott