“Meditation is sticking to one thought. That single thought keeps away other thoughts; distraction of mind is a sign of its weakness; by constant meditation it gains strength”.
– Sri Ramana Maharshi
This quote, from one of the great spiritual teachers, Sri Ramana Maharshi, describes in concise words what meditation is. It means focusing your mind on one thought, and keeping away all other thoughts. This leads to inner peace, a quiet mind, and the ability to control your mind and your thoughts.
We all need guidance about meditation, so we can practice it correctly and get real results. Let’s start with a few definitions.
What Is Meditation? A Few Definitions
We need to define what meditation is.
- Meditation is a technique for calming down the nonstop activity of the mind and experiencing inner peace.
- It is a method for relaxing the body and reducing stress and anxiety.
- It helps you go within and experience a higher awareness.
- One of its purposes is to help you gain freedom from constantly nagging thoughts and worries, and quiet the nonstop chatter of your mind.
Meditation definition according to Cambridge dictionary: “The act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed.”
Meditation definition according to Merriam Webster: “To engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.”
Encyclopedia Britannica says
“Meditation, private devotion or mental exercise encompassing various techniques of concentration, contemplation, and abstraction, regarded as conducive to heightened self-awareness, spiritual enlightenment, and physical and mental health.”
Meditation definition according to Wikipedia: “A practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.”
It is much more than just a technique for relaxing the body, as some people think. In its higher forms, it leads to inner peace and happiness, and to spiritual awakening and enlightenment.
Meditation plays an important role in many religions and spiritual traditions, and has always been practiced everywhere, from ancient times until the present day.
There have always been people, who had the desire to go within, beyond the mind, and to discover who and what they are, and attain a higher spiritual consciousness.
There are many forms, techniques and traditions, which are practiced and followed for various reasons and aims, for relaxation and health, for mental mastery, and for gaining inner peace. Some, practice it for the purpose of attaining spiritual awakening and enlightenment.
The Benefits of Meditation
What are the benefits of meditation? What would you gain by practicing it? Here are a few reasons why it is a useful practice.
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- Meditation calms down the body and the mind and conserves the energy.
- It reduces stress and anxiety.
- It normalizes the blood pressure and has a healing effect on the body.
- It improves the focus and the power of concentration, sharpens the mind, and awakens the intuition.
- Its constant practice reduces the number of restless thoughts in the mind and brings inner peace, happiness and a sense of bliss.
- It teaches you to live in the present moment.
- Its practice improves the emotional and mental health.
- It allows you to look at life from a more relaxed point of view.
- It can lead to the expansion of consciousness and to what is called Spiritual Awakening, Enlightenment, Nirvana.
In order to obtain these results, you need to meditate every day, at least once a day. If you are a beginner, you may start with only 10 minutes and even less, and gradually increase the time.
People who practice meditation are more calm and relaxed in daily situations and in difficult situations. They can focus their attention better than other people, are happier, and do not allow circumstances and people to stress them out.
Meditation Guidance and Tips
When you start meditating, you might encounter obstacles and inner resistance, because the mind does not like to be controlled by you. Don’t give up when you feel like procrastinating or giving up on meditating.
To make it easier for you, I would like to offer you a little meditation guidance and simple tips that will help you improve your meditation. The guidance and tips will help you reduce the inner resistance of the mind, so that it becomes easier to meditate.
Read the tips attentively, and apply them to any meditation technique that you choose to practice.
- If you wish to achieve real results, it is important that you meditate every day. It is best to meditate regularly, even if it is just for a few minutes. If you sit down to meditate every day at the same time, after a while, this will become a habit, and you would encounter less inner resistance and need less effort.
- Keep up a positive attitude. A positive state of mind ensures that you have motivation, enthusiasm and perseverance.
- Do not meditate when you are tired, since you might lose your focus or fall asleep. When tired, it is difficult to focus the attention on the meditation. If you are tired, get some rest or sleep, otherwise, you might become sleepy and just waste your time.
- Meditate in a quiet place, where you can be undisturbed. Noises and distractions spoil your concentration and disturb your inner peace. Conversations you hear while meditating, street and cars noises, TV and the radio, your smartphone, all of them disturb the focus, do not allow you to meditate, and make your mind wander away.
- Sit in a comfortable position with your spine erect. You can sit on the floor, on a cushion, or on a chair. Do what you find more convenient. The important thing is to keep your body as comfortable as possible, and with your back straight. There is absolutely no need to sit in a difficult and uncomfortable position that tenses your body and disturbs your focus.
- After sitting down, take a few slow deep breaths. This will calm down your mind and body. Breathe slowly in, hold your breath briefly, and then exhale slowly. There is no need for complicated breathing techniques. The aim is just to relax the body and the mind.
- Relax your body before starting to meditate. Pay attention to your body and calm down each tensed muscle. You may start from your feet, up to your head, focusing on each part of your body, becoming aware of the tension, and then relaxing it.
- To increase relaxation, you might find it useful to think, before beginning to meditate, on a pleasant memory or a mental image of a place that makes you feel calm and relaxed. Imagine the mental scene for just a few moments.
- You might also find it helpful to think for a few moments about the benefits of meditation, how it will strengthen your focus, calm down your mind, ease your stress and tension and so on.
- Before starting to meditate, tell yourself that all thoughts, ideas and plans will have now to wait until you finish, and that nothing is going to distract your mind. Be clear and firm, so that it would be easier to avoid and disregard them.
- Stay calm, physically, mentally and emotionally and keep a state of focused attention. The more focused the attention is, the easier it is to ignore thoughts and other distractions. This might not be easy, but with perseverance, and training your concentration it would become easier.
- Strive not to tense your body. If you feel that tenseness is increasing within your body, stop for a moment and relax your body.
- Patience and self discipline should be always cultivated. These skills would enable you to continue with your practice, despite difficulties and inconvenience.
- 10 minutes of practice are quite enough for a beginner. In time, as you gain experience and expertise, you may increase the time.
- Start with a simple technique. Below, you will find three meditation technique.
Two Forms of Meditation
Basically, there are two types of meditation:
1. One type of meditation requires focusing the mind on a certain activity, such as on the breathing process, on a physical object, a mental image, a word, a quote, thought, or a quality of character.
2. The other form, which is more advanced, does not require that you focus on anything in particular.
You just need to try to empty your mind of all thoughts, and strive to be aware of the inner silence and calmness that results when you stop thinking.
For better results, this form of meditation should preferably be practiced after you are well trained with the first form.
3 Meditation Techniques
1. Focusing the Attention on Your Breath
Focus your attention on your breath. Breathe normally, while focusing on the act of breathing in and breathing out.
Be careful not to strain your breath or your body. Just breathe calmly and normally, while being aware of the act of breathing.
If your mind wanders away, brings it back and focus again on your breath.
2. Focusing on an Inspiring Quote.
Choose an inspiring quote. There are many places where you can find such quotes. Memorize the quote, and repeat it in your mind, trying to find its deep meaning, beyond the written words.
Keep your mind only on the quote and its meaning. If you find yourself thinking of something else, just stop and bring your mind back to the meditation.
3. Watching Your Thoughts
Proceed as follows:
- Do not think of anything in particular.
- Just watch the thoughts that flow through your mind, without interest.
- Try to be as detached as possible, watching your thoughts as if they do not belong to you. It would help if you treat them as a boring and uninteresting movie.
- Avoid following any of the thoughts that might pop up into your mind.
- This might not be easy, and you will need a late of patience.
- As a beginner, You may start with 5 minutes, and gradually increase the time.
You don’t have to practice all the techniques mentioned here, though it would be a good idea to start with one of the first two, and then proceed to the third. If you are familiar with a different technique and prefer to practice it, that’s fine.
You can also practice mindfulness meditation, focus on physical sensations, or practice transcendental meditation.
For more information, tips, advice and meditation guidance techniques, read:
“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.”
“Learn to be calm and you will always be happy.”
– Paramahansa Yogananda
“When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a candle in a windless place.”
– Bhagavad Gita
“The mind is definitely something that can be transformed, and meditation is a means to transform it.”
– Dalai Lama
“Through meditation and by giving full attention to one thing at a time, we can learn to direct attention where we choose.”
– Eknath Easwaran
More meditation quotes.
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