Meditation is a proven alternative body-mind therapy. Meditation benefits are substantial. Meditation provides a safe and simple way to balance an individual’s emotional and mental states for overall wellness, leading to natural self-healing. Meditation therapy is a simple practice with lasting benefits for major depression. In addition, simple meditation techniques are often used as a body-mind therapy to lower blood pressure, improve exercise performance in people with angina, enhance breathing in asthma, relieve insomnia, and relax stress.
Today, many people use meditation techniques outside of traditional religious or cultural settings as a form of body-mind therapy. Meditation therapy is receiving more attention in the medical community.
The use of meditation techniques for self-healing is not new. Meditation is the product of diverse cultures and peoples around the world. Meditation has been rooted in the traditions of the world's great religions.
The goal of meditation
The goal of meditation is to teach your mind how to relax. If your mind is peaceful, you will be free from worries and mental anxiety, and so you will experience tranquility and peace of mind.
Meditation is finding the quiet or stillness between sounds and thoughts and experiences. It is this underlying quietness—so quiet that you can almost hear it—that forms a link between you and your sensations and thoughts. Meditation techniques focus on training your mind to empty itself of distracting and distorted thoughts, which are delusions causing problems and sufferings in life. The goal of meditation is to develop an acute awareness of adaptation to cope with the mundane world, such as dealing with attitudes and behaviors, as well as pain and stress. As a result, you may know yourself better, such as the reasons for your anger. Meditation is a means of self-enlightenment or divine illumination, such as exploring the purpose of your existence. In other words, meditation is essentially a mental training of awareness or mindfulness of breathing, physical sensations, and mental thoughts, and the perception of timelessness or focusing on the present moment or what is “real” at the present moment.
In contemporary living, your mind is often riddled with thoughts of what you just did, or what you will or should do. Nearly all your thoughts, including your desires and fears, are based on either the past or the future. Your desires are no more than recollections of the past pleasure and hopes of repeating them in the future. Fears are also no more than memories of past pain, and your desires to avoid the pain in the future. In meditation, you focus your mind only on the present moment so as to temporarily expel past and future thoughts.
Meditation involves a variety of techniques or practices intended to focus or control your attention. Most of them are rooted in Eastern religious or spiritual traditions. These meditation techniques have been used by many different cultures throughout the world for thousands of years.
Meditation techniques help you focus your mind on the present moment to the exclusion of past and future thoughts.
But meditation is more than just “mental focus”; it is beyond the “concentration” in solving a difficult math problem or performing a complex mental task. Meditation is concentrating on something seemingly insignificant (such as your breathing) or spontaneous (such as eating and walking) such that your mind becomes conditioned to focusing on only the present moment. In this way, your mental concentration excludes all past and future thoughts, thereby instrumental in giving your mind a meaningful break. It is in this sublime state of mind that enables you not only to understand the true nature of things but also to see them in perspective.
Simple meditation techniques include the following:
- Focus on an object as your concentration: your breathing, a candle, a sound (such as water from a fountain), your steps, or just about anything that can easily draw you back to your meditative mind. For example, during meditation, it is very common for your mind to wander away (that is, thinking about other things instead of the object of your concentration), but you can gently and easily force your mind to re-focus on the object of your concentration.
- Re-focus your mind on the object if you notice that your mind has wandered off with unwanted thoughts of the past or the future. It is your repetitive efforts of returning to your meditation that help you learn how to focus and re-focus until focusing becomes a habit or second nature to you.
- Keep yourself in full consciousness: you must be fully aware of what is going on around you. That explains why in meditation (except in the walking meditation) you need to sit erect in order to keep your body in full consciousness. Do not lie down (or else you may fall asleep); do not slouch (this may not help you focus). Sleeping or dozing off is not meditation.
- Maintain a consistent position or posture with your thumb tip and forefinger tip of each hand touching very lightly, while the other fingers are either curled or extended out. A consistent posture and hand position will promote a meditative mind to practice meditation techniques.A full lotus position is not required.
It is important that you do not expect something to "happen" in your meditation. Do not wonder: "Where can I go from here?" Just continue your daily practice with self-discipline. Other than a peaceful mind and a relaxed body, you may gradually increase your self-knowledge. According to ancient Greek philosophy, "Know yourself and you will know the universe." Knowing yourself will bring about self-enlightenment.
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Copyright © by Stephen Lau