Meditation is cleansing for the soul – but you don’t have to sit cross legged in front of a shrine to practice this habit.
Some form of meditation is practiced in virtually every community throughout the world. Educators, spiritual leaders, and mental health experts have developed dozens of forms of meditation over 1000s of years. You probably practice a form of meditation without even realising!
Meditation has an abundance of holistic benefits such as reduced stress, anxiety or depression; improved concentration; and lower blood pressure. It has gained in popularity, but for the people who don’t regularly make time for it, is often because it can be overwhelming to start or they don’t know enough information.
Here are a few simple considerations for those of you who need that little push to start adopting this practice in to your weekly or daily routine…
1. Choosing between guided and unguided meditation is often the first step in starting a practice. In guided meditation, a teacher guides you through the basic steps of the practice, either in person or virtually, such as through a meditation app like The Mindfulness app or Headspace.
In unguided, you meditate in silence, without someone else explaining the process. For example, it could be simply sitting in quiet and paying attention to the body and thoughts for a set period of time.
2. Selecting whether to have insightful or calming meditation. The intention of a calming practice is to cultivate a quieter, more peaceful state of mind and improved concentration. Most calming meditation practices involve focusing on a particular object, such as your breath, a mantra, a visualisation or a physical object — and returning to that object whenever you get distracted or notice your mind starting to wander.
Insight meditation is largely practised for the aim of transformation. This means transforming your mood or attitude through techniques. It involves focusing on the breath and being aware of, and noting all the mental sensations that arise. For example, this could be reflecting on your thoughts and emotions.
3. Do you prefer to sit still or to move and flow? Most people believe meditation is practiced by being still, but for those of you who find it too difficult to shut out the thrash metal band of thoughts and ideas that play through your head may prefer to move your body during the practice. Some types of yoga are physically active forms of meditation that blend movement with deep breathing and mantras. Moving meditation can also improve physical strength and reduce pain.
An ancient tradition, meditation is as relevant in today’s busy world as it ever was. Our schedules seem tailor-made for a build-up of stress. Meditation is a very grounded and effective way to relieve stress while also promoting self-awareness. It can lead us to discover a sense of calmness and inner harmony and can help us cope with the pressures of everyday life. And as you can see, there is no “right way” to meditate, so explore the different types until you find one that works for you.