Everyone can meditate, but there are so many different types of meditations to try that not everyone will get the same things out of each one. This is an ancient practice that has roots in Hinduism, Taoism and Buddhism. It has involved everything from chants and mantras to extreme concentration, with a history in many religions as well, and those who are advanced in their practices have spent a lifetime cultivating their skill. Presently, the western world has become interested in meditation as a way to clear away the clouds in our fast paced modern world. I think of it as a great way to unwind and de-stress after a busy day.
The fact that so many people are now reaching to this ancient tradition just shows why meditation has never faded away! The rich history behind meditation has always been alluring to me, but it doesn’t have to be super complicated. There are several ways to become more mindful, increase your concentration, or process emotions, while being new to this practice!
The most popular basic type of meditation over the last few years has been mindful meditation or Vipassana (“clear seeing”). This traditional Buddhist practice involves observing each moment in the present, as it comes and goes. Your focus lies in noticing things like breath, sounds and body sensations without reacting. It’s amazing how many little things surround us everyday, from the birds chirping outside to the thoughts in our heads, that we don’t even notice. You can do several types of practices to increase mindfulness. A good one to start with is a body scan, where you experience how each part of your body feels without attempting to change it.
These types of practices help you stay in the present moment and are effective stress relievers for those of us who tend to dwell on the past or worry over the future – it’s an escape, not from those things, but into a moment that’s more accepting of the surrounding world.
While mindfulness doesn’t linger on any one occurrence, you can also meditate in order to concentrate on a particular element of the present moment. Not only is concentration a way to ease your mind and become more developed in your meditation practice, it’s a valuable mental exercise. The most basic form of concentration meditation is to focus on the breath. It seems simple, but is actually one of the most difficult things to do! You must concentrate only on your breath, its rhythm, how the air flows in and out of you, where you feel the breath, etc., without paying attention to any other distractors around you – most notably your wandering mind.
Work Through Difficult Emotions
Studies have shown meditation to effect our brains’ abilities to process emotions. Many practices aim to help us work through any emotional difficulties we’re having, whether struggling with sadness, trying to improve a relationship or anything else. Regular meditation can have lasting effects on how we perceive the negative in our lives– it can teach compassion that sticks around when you open you’re eyes too. Often, a different attitude, such as lovingness or compassion, constitutes a different meditation as well. One way to increase your compassion is to end each meditation by sending positive thoughts out into the world.
Have you meditated to achieve any of these effects before? And let me know if you would like to learn more about meditation in future posts!
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