The Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
Learning to meditate may seem daunting to those who have never tried it. The reality however, is that we have probably all meditated at one time or another without even realizing it. In its simplest form, meditation is naturally concentrating on one thing at a time. The idea is to stop the running dialog within our minds. If we can bring our full attention to one particular element for a short period of time, we start to have control of our thoughts, and find peace in the present moment.
Why People Meditate
There are many reasons people may choose to meditate. Some meditate to reduce stress, others find their creativity increases with regular meditation, while others still use meditation as a time to focus inwardly to reach a higher level understanding. Meditation is a common practice within many different cultures. All with generally the same final goal of reaching a higher state. This state is commonly known as enlightenment.
Whatever the reason may be that you decide to meditate, the general practice will be the same. To make your introduction to meditation as easy as possible, SpaDreams has put together three simple meditation types for you to try on your own.
Preparing for Meditation
Before preparing the place you would like to meditate, many people find partaking in a short yoga practice helpful. In fact, the entire goal of yoga is to prepare one for meditation. If you are not accustomed to yoga, a few rounds of sun-salutations are typically enough. If you regularly practice yoga, you can try adding meditation onto the end of your practice. Yoga prepares the body and mind for meditation by releasing physical energies before sitting still for a period of time.
Once you are physically ready, you will want to accustom a comfortable place where you can sit without any disturbances or need for re-adjustment. A firm pillow on the floor is typically enough for most people. For beginners, having a timer nearby will also help. More on this topic will be explained further more.
Choosing a Meditation
Just like most things in life, there is not a one-size-fits all way to meditate. The best way to start a regular meditation practice is to try a few different styles of meditation and see which option you find the most effective for yourself. To help you get started, we have picked out three different meditation types that can be performed easily by anyone.
Many people believe that it takes absolute silence in order to meditate. This in fact, is a great falsehood. The world around us is alive and with life comes a wide variety of sounds every day. We hear so much in fact, that we have learned to tune-out the vast majority of sounds we hear. If we didn’t we would probably go crazy. While all this tuning-out is a daily necessity, what would happen if we chose, just for a few minutes, to let it all in?
A listening mediation is a simple meditation that can be done anywhere. All you need to do is sit, close your eyes, and listen. What do you hear? Depending on your surroundings you may hear the hum of the refrigerator, neighbours chatting, a bird-chirping, or alarms ringing in the distance. In order to get the best results of this kind of meditation it is important to simply listen. Do not judge the noises, just let them pass. Doing so will bring your attention acutely to your surroundings and open your mind up to being still.
Mantra Meditation may be one of the most iconic forms of meditation we have today. If you picture a yogi-perched high on a hill chanting ‘Om’, you are actually picturing a mantra meditation.
Mantra meditation is involves the repeated chanting of a word or phrase. It can be as simple as chanting ‘om’ or it may be a longer text. There is no rule on what must be chanted. The only key is to choose one phrase and stick with it for the entire duration of your mediation. Repeating this one phrase and keeping focused on listening to the words you say, brings your focus completely to the present moment. There are only these words. There is only this moment.
While this kind is a less typical form of meditation, it can still do great things for body and mind. Similar to a listening meditation, an active meditation can also be done anytime, anywhere. Just as we unconsciously block out sounds every day, we also block out experiences. We act from muscle memory, often not even realizing how we have gotten somewhere because we had set ourselves on ‘auto-pilot.’ The goal of an active meditation is to break the habits of daily life and become fully conscious to each movement we make.
All that an active meditation involves is bringing your attention fully to whichever activity you are doing. If you are out walking the dog, bring your attention to every step you take. Notice your foot connect to the ground, notice the pull of the leash on your arm, notice the breeze blowing by. The more mundane the task, the more effectively we can wake ourselves up. When washing the dishes notice the sponge moving on the plate, the water rinsing away, the towel drying the dish. By bringing complete focus to the task at hand we once again, force ourselves to be present.
Learning to meditate can be easy and fun. Don’t put pressure on yourself to achieve any kind of result or act in a certain way. There is no right way to meditate.
Start slow. Even a short meditation is better than no meditation at all. Use that timer you have nearby and set it for 3, 5, or 7 minutes to start. Choose a duration of time that you believe you can focus without being distracted. A 3-minute attentive meditation is better than a 7-minute distracted one.
Distractions happen. Turning off the running dialog in our minds takes time and practice. If you find your shopping list starts creeping in, simply acknowledge that you have been distracted and come back to your chosen focus. Let go of the quest for perfection and you will find much more success.