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Understanding Meditation - How To Start With Basic Practices & Strategies

Last updated on : September 06 2019

colorful meditation pillows on the floor

So, you want to meditate, but you are not ready to become a hardcore vegan and make your granola just yet. I have news for you. Not all meditation practices involve the infamous “Ommm.” Many techniques don't require any prior experience or training at all.

Benefits of Meditation

Understanding Meditation, Benefits of Meditation, infographic

We have used meditation for hundreds of years for its physical and psychological benefits. It has been used to soothe a lot of pain in both states.

To further explore the benefits associated with meditation, here are a few proven ones.

1. Enhancing Self-Awareness

While it’s essential to build solid relationships with others, most people forget about building a strong relationship with themselves.

Some types of meditation are designed to help people take a more in-depth look into themselves and understand themselves better.

For instance, self-inquiry meditation is specifically designed to help people gain a more comprehensive understanding of themselves and how they relate with other people around them.

While at it, you can identify self-defeating thoughts that hold you back and find ways to suppress them.

2. Boosts Happiness

As they say, happiness is a state of mind.

When you meditate, the pituitary gland found in the brain produces endorphins which are mostly feel-good hormones. With these endorphins coursing through your mind, you’ll find that you elevate your mood and get a more positive outlook on things.

When you are angry, it’s better to meditate. Meditation will eliminate your anger without causing any additional problems in your life, as opposed to other destructive behaviors like drinking.

3. Sharpens Your Focus

Everyone’s brain is different. As such, we have different attention spans, memory retention, and sharpness.

When you feel that your focus is off-balance, meditation helps a great deal. When you meditate frequently, you learn how to discipline your mind in many different ways.

During the first days of practicing meditation, it’s reasonable to have your mind wander off. However, as you continue to master specific techniques; you can then focus on a particular issue with ease.

This ability to focus on a particular aspect usually translates into everyday life. In instances where you could be easily distracted by various elements, you can now focus on what you are doing, which will, of course, translate to better efficiency.

4. Helps with Stress Reduction

In our modern lives, we find that stress is more prevalent today than it ever was.

Natural methods to relieve stress, like meditating, is one of the most common reasons why people take on the practice.

If you don't control your stress levels, the hormone cortisol strikes. These higher hormone levels disrupt sleep, promote anxiety, raise blood pressure, and contribute heavily to constant fatigue and brain fog.

5. Controlling Addictions

Generally, addictions are powerful and compulsive. Merely wanting to break an addiction is rarely enough to overcome a chemical dependency or bad habit.

Changing your way of thinking and practicing a new habit is essential to improving your living patterns.

Breaking addictions requires that one has strong willpower and a lot of control. Since these attributes don’t just come by themselves, you need to acquire them.

Meditation is one such way to increase mental discipline and develop a strong enough will to kick any bad habits or addictions that have trapped you. It also creates a greater self-awareness which can help you identify triggers that lead you back to your addiction.

While breaking an addiction is one of the hardest things you might do, meditation can make the process much more comfortable.

Meditation Today

Just like everything else in life, meditation practices have evolved. The art of meditation has been alive for thousands of years, helping people from all walks of life attain balance, peace, clarity, and serenity in their lives.

However, as other health practices have changed, so has meditation. The kind of meditation we do today is very different from the traditional ones.

Here are a few highlights:

Lifestyle

When people practiced meditation in ancient times, they tailored it to their lifestyle. The times were more straightforward, the environment quieter, and the lifestyle less hectic.

As such, these people spent a lot more time meditating than the modern person normally would.

And since it was a lot easier to find a quiet place to meditate, most meditating could be done outside without worrying about any interruptions.

Spirituality

Nearly all of the traditional methods of meditation intertwined themselves with religions and spirituality. Religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism have meditation as one of their most central practices.

Today, however, we find that although an individual might practice meditation for spiritual purposes, it’s not tied to a particular religious affiliation.

Intent

Originally, meditation was a tool used to attain a higher sense of spirituality. People believed that through meditation, you could be in closer contact with the gods.

Today, however, people are embracing meditation to relieve stress, enhance mood, and help in managing chronic pain.

Meditation Basics

beautiful women holding a meditation pose

Now that you know the background of meditation, you can appreciate the basics involved in these unique yet effective meditation styles.

Mindful walking

Let's start simple. Have you ever heard of walking meditation? You step out your front door and begin walking. Simple enough?

As you head down your street, focus on the feeling of your feet hitting the pavement. As you take one step at a time, feel the sensation of your toes. Feel the balls of your feet touch the earth and then your heels sinking into the ground.

Continue to do this, while focusing on the sound of the trees. Focus on the sunshine on your face, and then lastly the smells you encounter on your way. That’s it.

Remind yourself every time your thoughts drift back to the stress of the day to focus back in on how you are placing your feet.

This calming mindfulness technique can be brought with you everywhere your feet carry you.

Dance

Have you ever walked into a grocery store, and noticed a child moving and grooving when they hear a good song? They can't help themselves.

Now is the time to channel your inner child by trying dancing meditation. 

Clear out some chairs in your living room or venture out into your back yard. Put on some music that gets you going. You need music that makes you move. Find your inner Beyoncé, and go for it.

Dance as hard as you can for at least 15-30 minutes. This type of meditation may make you feel self-conscious but do not give up. It will be impossible to think about the endless lists of "To Do's" while you are moving to the music.

Specific movements aren’t necessary to create a meditation. However, you need to bring your attention to your body for the reflection to be truly useful.

Laughter

Now let’s get “far out there” with laughter meditation. It's a great one to involve your friends.

Have you ever heard someone laughing and couldn’t help but laugh too?

This technique is designed to get you laughing without a cause. You need to let out your best guttural laugh. Once the first laugh is out, the others will follow, and soon the laughter will become real.

Try and feel it deep down in your belly. Laughing like this will quickly boost your endorphins and turn your thoughts positive.

Progressive Relaxation

A yoga technique called progressive relaxation can be just the trick for simple yet effective stress release. It is also fantastic for people who have insomnia.

Don't let the term yoga fool you. There are not any contorted positions you have to get into or hold. Just put on your comfiest bottoms and set up a calm environment first.

Put on your favorite candle and turn down the lights. Experiment with some essential oils or make yourself a warm cup of chamomile tea. Incorporate any scent or flavor that helps you feel calm.

Find a quiet place to lay down. This place can be on the floor or your bed.

The meditation begins at the very top of the body, with your head. Imagine your forehead muscles relaxing, then your nose, your ears, and then your mouth. Move down to your shoulders, relax your right arm, and then your left arm.

Allow your body to feel heavy. Then relax your fingers one by one. Give attention to each tiny part of your body. Progressively move down to your toes. Name every part of your body and actively concentrate on relaxing it.

After doing this, your body should feel extremely heavy. You should also find it much easier to drift off to sleep.

Conclusion 

These are a few simple meditation techniques that you can perform at any time. You don’t need to be a Guru to enjoy the benefits of meditation, you need to bring your attention inward.

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