Meditation 101

Meditation 101

If there’s one thing I attribute my healing to, it will be none other than meditation.

Yes, we have all these other amazing tools and techniques that play their part, but it’s meditation that holds these parts together and makes them work well for us — exactly the reason why meditation is the primary and one of the 3 Pillars of Awesomeness.

Oh, by the way, the purpose of this website is for the second one: reflection — the study and expansion of the mind.

Then, the third one is to apply what we learn from the first two: action.

But of the three, meditation is of prime importance. So, we’ll keep coming back to it all throughout our journey on The Path to Awesomeness.

Let’s start right here, right now.

Meditation 101

Throughout history, meditation has been an integral part of many cultures. Records indicate that meditation was practiced in ancient Greece and India more than 5,000 years ago. In the Buddhist religion, meditation is an important part of their spiritual practice. Different forms of meditation are practiced in China and Japan, and Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have traditions similar to meditation.

The word meditation comes from the Latin word, meditari, which means: exercise, turn something over in one’s mind, think, or consider. It is defined as consciously directing your attention to alter your state of mind.

Meditation is one of the proven alternative therapies that in recent years have been classified under mind-body medicine therapies. It is continuing to gain popularity, as more and more health experts believe that there is more to the connection between mind and body than modern medicine can explain.

According to researchers, meditation has been shown to aid the immune system and improve brain activity.

More and more doctors are prescribing meditation as a way to lower blood pressure, improve exercise performance, help people with asthma to breathe easier, relieve insomnia, and generally relax everyday stresses of life.

Many hospitals now offer meditation classes for their patients because of the health benefits. All promote physiological health and well-being.

Benefits of Meditation

Traditionally, meditation has been used for spiritual growth, but more recently has become a valuable tool for managing stress and finding a place of peace, relaxation, and tranquility in a demanding fast-paced world.

Benefits of meditation include physical and emotional healing; easing stress, fear, and grief; improved breathing; developing intuition; deep relaxation; exploring higher realities; finding inner guidance; unlocking creativity; manifesting change; emotional cleansing and balancing; and deepening concentration and insight.

Meditation elicits many descriptive terms: stillness, silence, tranquility, peace, quiet, and calm. All counter stress and tension.

In his book, Awakening The Buddha Within, Lama Surya Das says: “Meditation is not just something to do; it’s a method of being and seeing an unconditional way of living moment by moment.” In other words, learning to live in this moment because this moment is all we have.

Dr. Joe Dispenza shares in Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself that to meditate is “to become familiar with” oneself.

In the same vein, Henry Winkler also tells us: “A human being’s first responsibility is to shake hands with herself.” Meditation is an opportunity to shake hands with ourselves in a safe, simple way to balance our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.

Types of Meditation

There are two types of meditation: concentrative and mindfulness type.

Concentrative is focused on the person’s concentration, sitting quietly and calmly with good breathing patterns.

It is said that one’s mind is somewhat connected to one’s breath of air. The continuous rhythm of inhales and exhales of the breath will make the person feel calmer and more relaxed, focusing on the steady flow of air in and out of their bodies. This will result in the mind being more aware and tranquil at the same time.

Mindfulness, on the other hand, involves attention and awareness on passing waves of sensations, images, feelings, thoughts, sounds, smell, and anything that your body can interact with. This in turn will give the person a more non-reactive mind state, much like looking at a television, without any feelings or thoughts that can bother you.

We practice both types with Heart-Space Meditation (concentrative) and Body Scan with Gratitude (mindfulness) exercises in The Path to Awesomeness Starter Kit so you get to have the best of both worlds.

the path to awesomeness starter kitMeditation and relaxation often go hand in hand. In scientific studies, it has been proven that there are health benefits in regularly practicing meditation.

By being in a relaxed state of mind, the person is also regarded as being in an alpha state, which is a level of consciousness that promotes good healing.

Since people are constantly moving (beta state), being in a state of relaxation and stillness can enhance our overall well-being. Knowing all this, one can see the connection between both scientific and spiritual factors that are brought together by meditation.

In practicing meditation, a person can see their innermost self at its fullest. This can help a person dealing with external difficulties to see past all the challenges and become calm in dealing with situations.

This relaxed state of meditation can also help take away simple headaches, stress, or even mild anxiety. There are no known ways that meditation can be harmful, so why not give it a try?

How to Meditate

Remember that meditation is not a one-shot deal. It is almost impossible to attain a calm state of mind in just a matter of minutes, especially if it’s your first time. It is essential that you keep on practicing meditation until you have conditioned your mind to bring it to a calm state. Here are some steps for a beginner to start with meditation practice.

  1. Find a quiet corner to start your meditation. Distraction is a hindrance to those who are still starting out with meditation. When you close your eyes, your sense of hearing will be twice as good, so almost any noise in your surroundings will make it hard for you to concentrate. For beginners, it is important to start out in a quiet place in your home where noise is non-existent. Close your windows and lock your door. If possible, you can tell everyone in your home to minimize their noise so that you won’t get distracted.
  2. Ready your position. It is advisable for beginners to avoid lying down when practicing meditation. The aim here is not to sleep, and it is likely that you will fall asleep if your mind reaches a relaxed state. To stop this from happening, you can start your meditation in a lotus position or you can find a chair you can sit on. Make sure that your back is straight and your hands are relaxed on the armrest or on your lap.
  3. Begin your meditation with proper breathing. A good way to start meditation is to do the proper breathing exercise. That is, breathing through your nose. Proper breathing is the foundation of almost every healing modality, which is why it’s the first thing we learn in The Path to Awesomeness Starter Kit with the Awareness of the Breath exercise. Keep practicing this way of breathing until it becomes natural to you. After all, it’s truly the natural way of breathing.
  4. Pay attention to your mind. While you are concentrating on your breathing, you will achieve a state wherein your mind will start throwing thoughts and images at you. These are mostly random events of the day, future plans, problems and worries, fears, and so on. It will be hard to ignore these thoughts and you are not supposed to ignore them. The gist here is to acknowledge these thoughts when they enter your mind and then release them. With regular practice, there will come a time when these random thoughts will stop and you will notice that you are already in a blank space in your mind. This is the state you want to achieve during meditation.

This is the exercise where you train your mind to go into that spacious awareness — the awareness that you’ll carry with you all throughout your day. And that’s where you experience the real benefits that come from having a regular meditation practice.

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