“We could say that meditation doesn’t have a reason or doesn’t have a purpose. In this respect it’s unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don’t do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.” ~ Alan Watts
Dhyana – the seventh limb of yoga is about meditation. What is meditation? Is it okay to move? How do I know if I’m doing it right? What am I supposed to be doing when meditating? These are some of the questions I asked myself about meditation in the beginning. I still consider myself a novice with meditation, but I understand more clearly. Meditation is challenging and it causes us to spend time with and within ourselves. This can be uncomfortable for some due to the fact that sometimes you don’t like your own company.
What is meditation? Meditation generally involves focusing on an object (candle, or other object), repeating a mantra (silently repeating or maybe chanting quietly something like “I am thankful for my health and the comfort of my life.”), or simply focusing on breathing (refer back to the pranayama blog here: https://cyndi365.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/yogas-eight-limbs-part-five-pranayama-breath/.
Is it okay to move? Meditation doesn’t mean you have to sit in the lotus position for hours either. There is walking meditation, and meditation lying down (though this has a tendency to make me fall asleep). If you do choose a seated position – make your body as comfortable as possible with pillows, bolsters, blankets if needed to help support your body. If you need to shift or change position during a period of meditation feel free to do so – or else all you will be able to think about is your foot falling asleep or the itch on the tip of your nose. 🙂
How do I know if I’m doing it right? Start out with short periods of time. Maybe sit an alarm on your smartphone for 3-5 minutes. Then select one of the focuses mentioned above – an affirmation mantra, an object etc. Make yourself as comfortable as possible. Then begin focusing on your breath, your mantra, or object. As thoughts bubble to the surface of your mind just release them and go back to your breath, mantra, or object. If you feel more relaxed and less stressed at the end of the few minutes you know you are doing it right. Add a minute or two each week or so and build up your meditation time. Endeavor to practice daily for a few minutes for an entire week before adding minutes. Remember you are cultivating a habit you want to retain.
What am I supposed to be doing when meditating? BE IN THE MOMENT. Meditation is about being in the now – letting thoughts flow but focusing on how you are feeling in this moment, not the next, not the previous but NOW. Letting the thoughts flow, but always centering yourself back to the breath, mantra, or object you chose to focus on. Its kind of like giving the mind a coffee break. Your mind/brain is constantly working like on an assembly line, feeding cells, pumping blood, conducting electrical charges to direct and accomplish so much that goes on within our bodies. When you add the thoughts that are constantly parading through there asking, “Hello, What’s happening? Uh…we have sort of a problem here. Yeah. You apparently didn’t put one of the new coversheets on your TPS reports.” – Office Space quote – it can be quite busy.
Here is a FREE guided meditation link – from Deepak Chopra – it is called the 21-day meditation challenge. I have done this challenge before and it is very rewarding and helpful. https://www.chopracentermeditation.com/Bestsellers/LandingPage.aspx?BookId=178
Benefits of meditation include:
Meditation has been shown to increase gray matter density in the brain: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/how-meditation-may-change-the-brain/
Helps reduce heart disease, lower blood pressure, helps with weight loss, increases confidence, increases concentration and focus. There are literally hundreds of benefits see list on this link: http://www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/05/100-benefits-of-meditation/
Meditation can be integrated with so many areas of your life – you can meditate while you peel potatoes or do the dishes – just by concentrating on being in the moment and only on the task at hand.
Relax, breathe, and meditate – it’ll do your mind (and body) good.
“If with closed ears and eyes I consult consciousness for a moment, immediately are all walls and barriers dissipated, earth rolls from under me, and I float . . . “ ~ Thoreau