What is Meditation ?
What is Meditation ?The art of meditation has been around for thousands of years, and for thousands of years it has been able to find a sense of peace and balance in their lives. The good news is that while this practice can be extremely transformative and help you change your life for the better, it is actually fairly easy to learn.
An actual class on meditation could span pages and pages of content and hours of lessons, as there is so much history behind meditation. However, if you really want to learn what is meditation then one of the best things you can do is practice, every day.
It is best to think about meditation as a type of training to the mind, just like working out helps you train the body. Much like with exercising, once you understand the basics of how it works and how to do it, you just need to keep on exercising in order to get better—the repetition helps you improve.
You need to start with the same approach when learning how to meditate. This guide will help you get started with a foundation and basic understanding of meditation an what it is, so that you have the base that you need to continue to practice, learn and grow.
What Is Meditation?
Before you learn how to meditate, it is important to understand what meditation really is, so that you can get a better understanding of what it is you are practicing. The first thing to remember, is that meditation is actually a really general term and it covers a really diverse topic.
Back to our earlier exercise analogy, saying that you meditate is much like saying that you “exercise.” There are many different forms of meditation, just like there are many different forms of exercise. You can lift weights, do Pilates, or jog and they are all forms of “exercise.” So, just because you do one form of meditation, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other forms of meditation out there.
No matter what type of meditation you decide to practice, in general, meditation is all about training your mind and learning to be more aware. Meditation will help you get a healthy sense of perspective and learn how to observe what is going on within you, and around you, without judgement.
When you learn what is meditation and start practicing meditation regularly, you will even start to see some of the most notable great benefits of regular meditation. Some of the best benefits of meditation include:
- Lowered heart rate
- Lower blood pressure
- Better circulation
- Less perspiration
- Less anxiety
- Less stress
- Slower respiratory rate
- Lower blood cortisol levels
- Deeper sense of relaxation
- Improved immune function
- Better focus and concentration
Over time, you will not only learn how to be more aware of your thoughts or feelings, but you will start to gain a better understanding of them as well.
Two Types of Meditation for Beginners
For beginners who are just learning how to meditate, there are two different main types of meditation you can focus on. Once you figure out what is meditation , and after you master these basic practices, you can start extending the length of your meditation and trying new and different forms of meditation.
Concentration meditation is perhaps the most recognizable form of meditation and the one that many people think of when they “think” of meditation.
With concentration meditation, you focus, or concentrate on a single thing or point. You can focus on a noise, like a repetitive gong (there are many meditation audio files that can help you with this) or you can say your own mantra out loud.
You can also stare at a candle flame and place your focus on something visual in front of you. Many meditators have their own visual aid that they use when practicing concentration meditation.
If you start to lose focus or if your mind starts to wander, then you can simply refocus your concentration on your visual or audible aid.
While it may seem rather simple, focusing the mind can be very challenging, and more taxing than many people assume. This is why as a beginner, it is best to only meditate for a few minutes at a time and then work up to longer sessions.
The key with concentration meditation is to let those random thoughts circling in your head go. Don’t pursue these random thoughts and don’t let them distract you—simply let them go.
Over time, with concentration meditation, you will not only find that you are able to meditate longer, and you will not only have a more clear and focused head, but you find you are able to concentrate better in other areas of your life.
Mindful meditation is another great type of meditation for beginners, and it is one that can completely transform your mind and the way you think about the world. While concentration meditation is all about blocking out thoughts, mindful meditation encourages individuals to focus on how their thoughts and feelings move in certain patterns.
The goal of mindful meditation is to become more aware of your own tendency to judge an experience, whether good or bad. Over time, you start to develop an inner balance.
A great way to get into mindful meditation is to focus on your breath and the way in which your breath flows in through your body. When your mind starts to wander off, or you start to get overwhelmed with a mix of feelings, you can simply go back to focusing on your breath and the process of it going in and out of your body. Follow your breath, and the rest will follow.
Two Types of Meditation for Beginners
Armed with a better understanding of what meditation is and how it works, it is time to start actually practicing meditation. If you want to know how to meditate, this is the best approach to learn how and the simplest way to get into the practice:
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position. The more comfortable you are the better. Some people prefer a meditation chair or cushion while they practice.
- Choose a peaceful environment. This can be indoors or outdoors, but it should be somewhere that is quiet and relaxing where you can really focus on your self and on your meditative practice.
- Wear comfortable clothes. The more comfortable you are, the better, you don’t need to be focused on anything else but your mind.
- Take a big, deep cleansing breath in and close your eyes. Clear your mind. If your mind still isn’t clear, take another deep breath in and repeat.
- Once you are in your comfortable position with your eyes closed, simply start breathing normally. Don’t try to control your breath.
- Focus your attention on your breath and pay close attention to how your body moves and reacts each time you breathe in. Imagine you are following your breath as it moves through you.
- Observe every areas of your body as you breathe in and out. Pay attention to your belly, to your chest, and to your rib cage as you continue breathing.
- Every time you find your mind starts to wander, bring your attention back to your breath. If you are having difficulty concentrating on your breath alone, consider trying a more concentrative approach and using a visual or audible aid.
- Continue this practice for 2-3 minutes for your first session. Set a timer so that you can control how long your first session is. Aim to add another minute of meditation time each time you meditate.
The first time you meditate, you may not be able to do it for very long, and you may not really understand the impact and the effects that meditation can have on your body. Give it time, and keep practicing.
If you are having trouble getting into the groove of meditation, you may want to consider an online video, or a Meditation for Beginners DVD. There are so many different tools out there that can help guide you through the meditation process until you are able to do it on your own.
Your goal should be to try and meditate every day for at least 15 minutes. Some people do it in the morning, others do it at night. No matter when you decide to meditate, or how, if you make this part of your regular routine, you will see nothing but benefits from your practice.
It is easier than most people think when they ask: what is meditation ? The real challenge will come in carving out time each and every day in order to make meditation a part of your regular routine. The more often you do it and the more often you take out this valuable time for yourself, the better off you will be and the more you will see how meditation can change your life.