Meditation

Meditation is a specific approach to training the mind, similar to how fitness approaches the training of the body. But there are so many different meditation techniques - how do you learn to do it, right? In the Buddhist tradition, the word "meditation" is the equivalent of the word "sport" in the Western world. This is a whole group of specific activities and not just one. And different meditation practices require different mental skills. It is challenging for a beginner to sit for hours in one position and not think about anything, or, as they say, have a "pure mind."

There are many specialized tools, for example, meditations explicitly designed for beginners or even devices like sensory headbands. Their goal is to help you in this process when you do not have your own experience. In general, it can be said that the easiest way to start meditating is by focusing on breathing. It serves as an example of one of the most common approaches to meditation - through concentration.

Concentration meditation

Meditation on concentration means focusing on one point. This may be followed by a proposal to monitor your breathing, repeat a word or mantra, watch, without stopping, at the flame of a candle, or listen to a repeating gong sound. Focusing on the mind is not an easy task, it may be enough for a beginner to meditate, literally, for several minutes, and then, over time, increase the duration.

With this form of meditation, you simply switch the focus of attention to the object of your choice each time you notice how your mind is distracted. Instead of clinging to random thoughts, you just let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves. 

 Mindfulness meditations

Mindfulness meditations challenge to observe wandering thoughts as they flow through your mind. The intention here is not to immerse yourself in these thoughts or evaluate them, you just need to be aware of every mental movement as they appear. Through mindfulness meditation, you will be able to see how your thoughts and emotions replace each other following familiar patterns. Over time, you will begin to notice a better human tendency to immediately evaluate an event as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. 

The benefits of meditation

Even though relaxation is not the immediate goal of meditation, it often becomes its result. The relaxation reaction is a spontaneous, uncontrolled reaction, leading to a decrease in the sympathetic nervous system's activity with the following short-term benefits:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improving blood circulation
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Reduced sweating
  • Slow breathing rate
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Decreased blood cortisol levels
  • Increased sense of well-being
  • Less stress
  • Deeper relaxation

From Buddhist philosophy, the maximum benefit that meditation can bring is the liberation of the mind from devotion to things outside its sphere of control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions. A person who has attained liberation or enlightenment no longer follows his desires unnecessarily and does not focus on a specific experience. He merely consistently maintains a state of a calm mind and a sense of inner harmony. 

How to meditate - a simple guide for beginners

This meditation exercise is a great way to get to know the techniques of meditation:

  • Sit or lie down so that you are comfortable. If you want, you can even buy yourself a special chair or pillow for meditation.
  • Close your eyes. If you are lying, then you can use cooling eye masks or restoring eye pads.
  • No need to exert any effort to control breathing, breathe naturally
  • Focus on breathing and on what movements occur in the body with each inhales and exhale. Pay attention to the changes in your body. Observe what happens to your legs, stomach, chest, shoulders, and head. Just focus on breathing without trying to control its speed or intensity. If the mind is distracted, return attention to breathing.
  • To begin, do this meditation practice for two to three minutes, and then increase the duration.

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