In meditation we practice being fully aware of our actions, thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Meditation teaches us to stay in this present moment.
Another name for meditation is passive awareness. Any action done with awareness is also meditation.
"Meditation is one of the greatest arts in life - perhaps the greatest, and one cannot possibly learn it from anybody. That is the beauty of it. It has no technique and therefore no authority...........meditation can take place when you are sitting in a bus or walking in the woods full of light and shadows, or listening to the singing of birds or looking at the face of your wife or child." J. Krishnamurti - Meditations
History and Origins
The History and Origins of Meditation is closely intertwined with the history and origins of all culture, religion and society. Even in prehistoric times, civilizations used repetitive, rhythmic chants in their ceremonies to the gods. Meditation is one of the most ancient forms of mental, spiritual and physical health practices. It’s practice is mostly associated with major religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Christian, Sikhism and Islam.
Meditation spread to Western society thousands of years after it was adopted in the East. It started to gain popularity and recognition in the the 20th century.
Philosophy and principles
“Originally the sole purpose of meditation was to experience salvation, to increase spiritual understanding and awareness. The different religions gave birth to different meditative practices. Even today in the contemporary world meditation is considered a spiritual practice and can be practiced by anyone. However, today a majority of the people do it for relieving themselves from stress and sufferings.” Wikipedia
Because Meditation originates from so many different religions etc, there are many different techniques and modalities found under the umbrella term ‘meditation. Some of the basic principles that run through all meditations are:
Stillness of mind
In meditation you try to strive for your thinking mind to quieten. To stop focusing on the stressors and thoughts that race through your mind. This is not an easy thing to accomplish and requires MUCH practice.
Focusing on the present moment is a major part of meditation. Acknowledge thoughts that present themselves and then let them go. To linger on these thoughts is distancing yourself from the present moment. Good techniques to stay in the present is focusing on your breath or on external sounds, happening around you.
Meditation is an abstract process. This is the reason why most people have difficulty in describing their exact meditation process as well as well as the end results they experience while meditating. The different types of meditation that are acknowledged worldwide include transcendental meditation, prayer, Zen meditation, Taoist meditation, mindfulness meditation, and Buddhist meditation.
Fundamental points to note when you practice meditation
- Find what style or modality suits you and stick to it. Remember any process you choose is difficult to follow initially, but if you keep changing your process, you’ll never master any!
- Make a space for your practice. If you practice yoga, you most likely have a dedicated space already. Try to meditate in the same place everyday. Your mind relates to everything around you and if you change the place you meditate it will take longer for the mind to relax
- Plan your meditation time, by planning it in advance it allows your mind to accept it and get into a routine. You have to make meditation a habit.. a good one!
- Posture - is very important when you meditate. If possible the head, neck, back and spine should be straight to allow energy to flow correctly. Use props and supports to help you. Lying down is not recommended as we have a tendency to fall asleep in this position
Benefits of a regular practice
Mental vitality /happiness
Meditation increases brain activity in an area of the brain associated with happiness and positive thoughts and emotions, and some evidence shows that regular practice brings prolonged positive changes in these areas.
When practicing meditation, your heart rate and breathing slow down, your blood pressure normalizes, you use oxygen more efficiently, and you sweat less. Your adrenal glands produce less cortisol, your mind ages at a slower rate, and your immune function improves.
Relief from unhealthy patterns
People who meditate regularly find it easier to give up life-damaging habits like smoking, drinking and drugs.
Meditation can relieve physical complaints like headaches and can enhance our immunity.
Achieve your goals
Meditation is a fundamental element of goal setting. Setting goals is largely meditative in nature.