Yoda Would Be Proud: Meditation 101
By Muscle Media
Meditation refers to a state where your body is consciously relaxed and your mind focused. Practitioners of this art report increased awareness, focus, and concentration, as well as a more positive outlook in life. Although there are many different approaches to meditation, the fundamental principles remain the same. Some of the most important of these principles are removing obstructive, negative, and wandering thoughts or fantasies, and calming the mind with a deep sense of focus. This clears the mind of debris and prepares it for higher quality activity.
Meditation is most commonly associated with monks, mystics and other spiritual disciplines. However, you don’t have to be a monk or mystic to enjoy its benefits. You don’t even have to be in a special place to practice meditation. You could even try it in your own living room!
The negative thoughts you have (noisy neighbors, bossy officemates, that speeding ticket, and unwanted spam) are said to contribute to the “polluting” of the mind. Shutting them out allows the “cleansing” of the mind so that you may attend to deeper, more meaningful thoughts.
Some practitioners even try to shut out all sensory input by allowing no sights, no sounds, and nothing to touch. They try to detach themselves from all the commotion around them. As a result, they may focus on deeper, more profound thoughts. Ultimately, this is their goal. When you first try this, it may seem overwhelming at first. We are all accustomed to constantly being surrounded by distracting things we see and hear. But as you continue this exercise, you will find yourself becoming more keenly aware of everything around you.
The meditating positions seen on television may appear threatening. Some positions recommend impossibly arched backs and painful-looking contortions. However, you need not worry. The principle here is to be in a comfortable position conducive to concentration. You may find that you prefer sitting cross-legged, standing, lying down, and even walking. If the position allows you to relax and focus, that would be a good starting point. While sitting or standing, the back should be straight, but not tense or tight. In other positions, the only no-no is slouching and eventually falling asleep. Loose, comfortable clothes are recommended to further allow relaxation and comfort. Tight fitting clothes have a tendency to distract and make you feel tense.
Where you perform meditation should be a place with a soothing atmosphere. It may be your living room, bedroom, or any place in which you feel comfortable. You might want an exercise mat if you feel able to take on some of the more challenging positions. Use a mat if you feel more focused in more advanced positions, or if the contortionist in you is screaming for release! You may want to have the place pre-arranged so that it is always ready to soothe your senses.
Silence helps most people relax and meditate. So, you may want to choose a quiet, isolated area far from the ringing of the phone or the humming of the washing machine. Pleasing scents may also help in that regard. Having a stock of aromatic candles isn’t such a bad idea either.
The monks seen on television making those monotonous sounds are actually performing their mantra. This, in simple terms, is a short creed. It’s a simple sound holds a mystic value for these practitioners. You do not need to make such sounds. However, focusing on repeated actions such as breathing, and humming may help the practitioner enter a higher state of consciousness. The principle here is to maintain focus. You could also try focusing on a certain object like a candle while keeping your eyes open. This will help you to focus on a single point.
Following a commonly practiced routine may help give you some organization and guidance. While in a meditative state, silently name every part of your body and focus your conscious attention on that body part. While doing so you will become aware of tension in any part of your body. Mentally visualize releasing this tension. It works wonders.
All in all, meditation is a relatively risk-free practice and its benefits are well worth trying. Numerous studies have shown that meditation does, indeed, bring about beneficial physiological and psychological effects to the body. In recent years, there has been a growing curiosity from the medical community to further study the effects of meditation. In the near future that mystical, esoteric thing we call meditation might become a science itself!