What is meditation & where to start.
It gets harder and harder to define exactly what is meditation. I could give you a dictionary meaning but does that really help? Meditation means something different to each person, and each person has their own preferred meditation practice. Personally, I believe that many, many daily activities & sporting practices can be meditations. I think that any time you spend on and with yourself is meditation. It comes down to perception:) So where do we start with something as subjective as “what is meditation“?
Different kinds of meditation
Over the years many different types of meditation have flourished. Since the dawn of time, man has been meditating for various religious, cultural and personal reasons. The benefits of meditation are almost immediately obvious to anyone who begins to practice. The important thing to keep in mind is that meditation is a practice. It is not about achieving a certainly skill level, it is about the experience. It is something that happens right now (but can take you anywhere in time:) and is a constant process of growth.
Almost all formal meditation techniques begin with breath regulation. Deep breathing is a cornerstone of what meditation is about. It all begins with the breath. Learn to control your breath and you begin to unlock a little bit of the puzzle of what is meditation…
I don’t personally promote any single method of meditation, I simply promote the general practice of meditation. I believe each person should meditate but as to how you meditate, that is up to you. You should experiment and try all sorts of techniques, until you find the one that completely resonates with you. As you grow and develop in your meditation practice, you might find you need to change meditation techniques as time goes by. This is perfectly in order. The only question you need to ask is does my meditation make me feel good?
Conversely, anything that makes you feel good, is probably some form of meditation:)
What is guided meditation?
Many people who start meditating begin with “guided meditations”. A guided meditation is simply having someone else guide your meditative journey. Usually with specific visualizations and a specific aim or objective. For someone new to meditation, this a great way to start. You get the experience of a well-practiced meditator to help focus your own meditation. Most people only begin to realize just how busy their minds are when they start to meditate. The biggest problem with learning to meditate, is learning to still your mind. A guided meditation can be useful when it comes to calming & focussing your mind when you first start to meditate.
For anyone looking to begin a meditation practice, guided meditation is a good place to start. If you look around the net, you’ll find plenty of free guided meditations. But the better stuff usually costs something. I say sample lots of different free ones until you find something that feels comfortable. Something that leaves you feeling good. Then stick with it for a little while. You will find that as you re-do meditation, the experience becomes somehow deeper and richer. But the moment you become even slightly bored, it is time to move on and try something else.
So what is meditation exactly?
Sitting listening to guided meditations is but one form of meditation. When you get bored with guided meditations, you might want to experiment with some of the outstanding eastern meditation techniques; Buddhist meditation, Transcendental meditation, or even just develop your own form of meditation. I believe that meditation can come in many forms. Yoga can certainly be a meditation (ask anyone who has tried Bikram Yoga) but so too can any physical excercise practice. Walking in the park can be a meditation, washing the dishes, cleaning the house. It all comes down to your perception of the experience. I like to encourage people to turn their entire life into a meditation.
Meditation is not something you should put aside time for, it is something you MUST put time aside for. We spend our whole lives doing all manner of things for other people and more often than not, we forget to do things for ourself. One of the best, most rewarding things you can do for yourself is to spend a little time meditating every day. And work toward meditating all day, in every way:)
For me, the best definition of what is meditation, is time spent on yourself. What greater gift can you show yourself than to devote a little bit of each day to yourself. When you start to honor yourself like this, the world notices & honors you for it.
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