Meditation is a great technique for relaxation and freedom from anxiety and stress. A state of concentrated attention on a thought, idea, aspect of God or on one’s awareness, it is a method of training the mind to become peaceful and clear from outside distractions.
The practice of meditation comes with a myriad of health benefits, including increased concentration, decreased anxiety and a general feeling of happiness.
Meditation is a word that has come to be used loosely and inaccurately in the modern world, resulting in much confusion about how to practice it. Some people use the word meditate when really they mean thinking or contemplating, while others use it to refer to daydreaming, fantasising and free association. In actual fact, meditation is a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. It is the means for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the center of consciousness within.
Contrary to belief, meditation is not a part of any religion: it is a science;8 which means that the process of meditation follows a particular order, has definite principles, and produces results that can be verified. In meditation, the mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. When you meditate, you remain fully awake and alert, but your mind is not focused on the external world or on the events taking place around you. Meditation requires an inner state that is still and one-pointed so that the mind becomes silent.
From childhood onward, we have been educated only to examine and verify things in the external world. No one has taught us how to look within, to find within, and to verify within. We remain strangers to ourselves while trying to get to know others, and this lack of self-understanding is one of the main reasons our relationships don’t seem to work, and why confusion and disappointment so often prevail in our life.
The goal of meditation is to go beyond the mind and experience our essential nature, which is described as peace, happiness and bliss. When we learn to do this through meditation, we attain the highest of all joys that can ever be experienced by a human being.
Meditation is a practical means for calming yourself, for letting go of your biases and seeing what is, openly and clearly. It is a way of training the mind so that you are not distracted and caught up in its endless churning. In essence, meditation is freedom from worldly concerns, something we could all benefit from.
Although there is little information on the roots of meditation, archeologists believe that it existed among the first Indian civilisations, with primitive hunter-gatherer societies practicing it whilst staring into the flames of their fires.
Over a period of thousands of years, it evolved into a more structured practice, with Indian scriptures referencing it as many as 5,000 years ago.
It took until 500 B.C with the advent of Buddha, however, for its teachings to become widespread.
Meditation finally started to gain popularity in the West in the mid-20th century and is used today by millions of people worldwide from many different nationalities and religious beliefs.
Meditation has been proven to have many benefits: from a positive effect on our health and wellbeing, to assisting in the prevention and cure of illnesses which are otherwise difficult to address.
In the West it is highly regarded, widely prescribed and currently considered to be one of the most successful stress management techniques available.
With regular practice, individuals can achieve:
- Stronger focus and concentration
- Reduced tension, anxiety and stress
- Clearer thinking and less emotional turmoil
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- Support in kicking addictions and other self-defeating behaviors
- Greater creativity
- Enhanced performance in work and play
- Increased self-understanding and self-acceptance
- More joy, love and spontaneity
- Greater intimacy with friends and family members
- A deepened sense of meaning and purpose
- Glimpses of a spiritual dimension of being
Meditation can be used with other forms of medical treatment and is an important complementary therapy for both the treatment and prevention of many stress-related conditions.
Regular meditation can reduce the number of symptoms experienced by patients with a wide range of illnesses and disorders and is considered to be one of the better therapies for:
- Panic Disorder
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder
- Substance Dependence and Abuse
- Chronic Pain
- Psoriasis and Dysthymic Disorder
It is also considered to be a valuable adjunctive therapy for the following symptoms, illnesses and conditions:
- Moderate Hypertension
- Prevention of Cardiac Arrest
- Prevention of Atherosclerosis
- Arthritis (including Fibromyalgia)
- Prevention of Stroke
- Neurological Disorders
“Meditation is not about doing anything; it’s basically about resting. In a way, meditation is a process of un-doing.” ~ Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
Meditation is the art and science of letting go, and this letting go begins with the body and then progresses to thoughts.
The simplest way to meditate is to attend to your breath, breathing in and out deeply and slowly whilst concentrating on the movement of air as it flows in and out of your lungs and the resulting feeling of relaxation spreading through your body. At the same time attend to your thoughts, noticing each one as it comes into your mind before allowing it to pass.
Take the time to practice regularly. You may not notice the benefits now, but slowly and gradually you will see the results in terms of physical relaxation and emotional calmness.
Be kind and gentle and patient with yourself. Some of the most important benefits of meditation make themselves known gradually over time and are not dramatic or easily observed.
Persist in your practice and you will find that meditation is a means of freeing yourself from the worries that gnaw at you. Then you are free to experience the joy of being fully present, here and now.
Meditation is a state where we can just ‘be’ – present to the moment, open and aware – in a relaxed and easy way.
Meditation encourages individuals to let go of the past, leading to deep personal transformation on multiple levels.
Released from the constraints of the conscious mind and the weight of the physical body, we are free to grow into and become our fullest potential.
Free from prejudice, meditation can be practised anywhere, by anyone, of any age or background.
N.B: For your own safety, it is suggested that you consult an experienced practitioner before attempting to confront any serious issues on your own.
If you would like any further information about the process outlined above, please contact me with your questions.
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