How to meditate?

What is meditation?

Your mind can never be empty of thoughts. It needs something to be fed on. The kind of thoughts you bring in through watching, listening, or reading, it starts to absorb and reconstruct the same kind of impressions. When your mind is idle, it starts to construct the same kind of thoughts you are used to.

When we meditate, we inject far-reaching and long-term advantages into our lives: We lower our stress levels, we get to understand our pain, we connect better, we enhance our focus, and we are kinder to ourselves. Let's walk you through the fundamentals in our new mindful guide on how best to meditate.

How do you learn how to meditate? What is meditation? These are confusing questions for many exploring natural therapies for mental health problems like depression and anxiety. In mindfulness meditation, we learn how to focus on the breath as it goes in and out, and notice once the mind wanders from this relatively simple task. The practice of returning one's attention to the breath builds the muscles of focus and mindfulness.

When we listen to our breath, we're learning how to return to, and remain in, the present moment. We have to anchor ourselves in the here and now on goal, without judgment. In mindfulness training, we're learning how to go back to, and remain at, the present moment--to anchor ourselves in the present moment, without any judgment. The idea behind mindfulness appears to be simple, but the art of meditation and practice takes patience. While meditation is not a cure-all, it can certainly offer some much-needed area in your life. Essential tools needed for your meditation practice are some kindness for yourself, comfortable clothing, and patience.

Meditation is a way to get aware of your thoughts. And to have control over your mind. Your mind is just like a free untrained wild horse. Which just roams around and finds solace in useless thoughts. Unless you train your mind. To get out of the loop you need to start reading, learning, watching, or listening to the kind of things you need to come in your mind. But it is not so easy to halt the loop. You need to clear your mind first. As you clean your room and remove unnecessary stuff to bring new beneficial ones. Meditation is that process. The process to clear your mind of useless, negative thoughts and bring in useful positive ideas.

See: Mindfullness Meditation For Sleep

Basic meditation for beginners

As it is tough to handle an untrained horse so similarly, it is not easy to control an untrained mind. Meditation is that kind of training. It helps to calm and relax the mind, the wild horse. Initially, you will face some challenges, like you won’t be able to sit properly for a long time, or it may be difficult for you to focus your mind.

What we are doing here is aiming for mindfulness, not some procedure that magically wipes your mind clear of the countless and endless ideas that erupt and ping constantly within our brains. We are just practicing bringing our attention to our breath, and then back to the breath once we notice our attention has wandered. Get comfy and prepare to sit for a couple of minutes. Once you stop reading this, you are likely to simply pay attention to your natural inhaling and exhaling of breath.

Focus on your breath. Where do you believe your breath? In your belly? In your nose? Try to keep your focus on your inhale and exhale.

Follow your breath for 2 minutes. Just take a deep breath inwards to inhale, expanding your stomach, then exhale very slowly, stretching the out-breath as your belly is forced inwards.

 How long was it before your thoughts started to drift away from your breath? Did you notice how busy your brain was without consciously directing it to consider anything in particular? Did your mind slip into the many anxiety-ridden problems at work or in your relationships?  We frequently have short narratives running in our heads that we did not choose to put there.

We have to practice mindfulness to recognize when our minds drift in chaos and possibly pause from that for only a little while so we could choose what we want to concentrate on.

If you experienced these kinds of distractions, you have made the first discovery. In simple terms, what you experienced is the opposite of mindfulness. It's when we are living in our minds, on automatic pilot, allowing our thoughts to go here and there, researching, say, the future or the past, and basically, not being present in the moment. Most people live in anything but the present. Mindfulness meditation can help in changing that.

We practice mindfulness to learn how to recognize when our heads do their regular everyday acrobatics and possibly pause from that for only a little while so we could choose what we want to concentrate on. In brief, meditation helps us have a much healthier relationship with ourselves.

See: Yoga & meditation for natural stress relief

Simple ways to meditate properly

How to meditate properly

When you sit for meditation, never try to seize your thoughts. Just let them in. Closely watch your thoughts do not assess them. Let them flow. Like you will bind that wild horse with a long rope through which the horse will think that it is still free and can run anywhere. But as the horse becomes calm, the owner begins to tighten the rope. And the time comes that the wild horse becomes totally calm and follows the owner. But in any case, never push yourself. Follow your feeling about meditation and respect your mind as you will do with that wild horse. Sit for one minute only, but practice it daily. Ideally, you should practice meditation at the same time every day. That way your body will start preparing itself for the meditation before you settle for.

Meditation is easier than most folks think. You can try the simple approach suggested below. Make sure you're somewhere to relax into this procedure, set a timer, and give it a shot:

- Comfortable location: Locate a place to sit feels calm and quiet to you.

- Time duration: You can start with a short time limit, such as five or 10 minutes.

- Comfortable seating: You can sit in a posture comfortable for you. You can sit in a yoga asana, a chair, or a stool. Just be sure that you are comfortable, stable, and a position you can stay in for some time.

- Feel your breath: Stick to the feeling of your breath as it goes in and as it goes out.

Mind-wandering awareness: Inevitably, your focus will depart the breath and wander to other areas. When you get around to discover that your mind has wandered--in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes--simply return your focus on the breath.

- Go easy on yourself: Do not be hard on yourself if your thoughts drift away or obsess over the content of the ideas you end up lost in. As soon as you can focus your attention on returning, you are making progress.

- End with kindness: When you want to end the meditation, gently open your eyes, and lift your gaze. Have a moment and notice any noises in the environment. Be conscious of how your body feels at that particular moment. Notice that your thoughts and emotions.

That is the practice. Your thoughts drift, you bring the awareness to the present breath, and you attempt to do it as kindly as you can.

When we meditate, we inject far-reaching and long-term advantages into our own lives. And bonus: you do not need any additional gear or a costly membership. Here are some reasons to meditate:

- Know your pain

- Lower your stress

- Boost focus

- Reduce brain chatter

- Deep sleep

See: Kirtan Kriya Meditation For Mental Health Benefits

Make meditation a daily habit

Meditation Tips and Techniques:

We have gone over the simple breath meditation up to now. Still, other mindfulness methods use different focal points compared to the breath to anchor our focus - external objects such as a sound in the room, or discovering random things that come into your consciousness during an aimless wandering practice.

How to make meditation a routine

When you sit for meditation, never try to seize your thoughts. Just let them in. Closely watch your thoughts do not assess them. Let them flow. Like you will bind that wild horse with a long rope through which the horse will think that it is still free and can run anywhere. But as the horse becomes calm, the owner begins to tighten the rope. And the time comes that the wild horse becomes totally calm and follows the owner.
Similarly, when you will follow your ritual of doing meditation sincerely, a day will come, and then your mind will be under your control. You will be the master of your mind. You will be able to guide your mind to think about a particular idea. No one can guarantee this, no one can say how much time it will take. But if you follow the ritual patiently you will succeed in it.

Numerous cognitive neuroscientists have conducted studies that have revealed that only 5 percent of our cognitive actions (decisions, emotions, actions, behavior ) is done consciously. The other 95 percent is generated in a non-consciously approach with our brain on autopilot. That is because neural networks underlie all our habits, reducing our millions of sensory inputs per second into manageable shortcuts to work in this crazy world. These default signals are so effective they often cause us to relapse into old behaviors before we recall what we are supposed to do instead.

Mindfulness is the precise opposite of these default procedures. It's executive control as opposed to autopilot and empowers deliberate activities, willpower, and conclusions. But that takes practice. The more we trigger the brain, the more powerful it gets. Every time we do something new and deliberate, we excite neuroplasticity, activating our gray matter, filled with newly sprouted neurons that haven't yet been dressed for the autopilot brain.

But here is the problem: While our deliberate brain knows what is best for us, our autopilot mind causes us to shortcut our way through life. So how do we trigger ourselves to be mindful when we need it most? This approach is where the idea of "behavior design" comes in. It is a way to place your intentional mind in the driver's seat. There are two ways to do this --slowing down the bronchial mind by placing obstacles in its way, and secondly, eliminating obstacles in the path of this intentional mind to get control.

Shifting the balance to provide your intentional mind more energy takes some work, however. Here are a few ways to begin:

Put meditation reminders around you. If you wish to meditate, then set your meditation cushion in the middle of your floor to not miss it as you walk by.

Refresh your reminders frequently. If you opt to use sticky notes as a reminder for a new intention, it may work for about a week, but your autopilot mind takes over again. Consider composing new messages on your own; add variety, or make them humorous. That way, they will stick with you more.

Create new patterns. You can try a set of new messages and triggers to make easy reminders to change into the intentional brain. Each deliberate action to transform into mindfulness will fortify your conscious mind.

See: Yoga Nidra and Meditation benefits for cancer patients

References

1. Mindful breathing. (n.d.) https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/mindful_breathing

2. Park, J., Lyles, R. H., & Bauer-Wu, S. (2014, July 1). Mindfulness meditation lowers muscle sympathetic nerve activity and blood pressure in African-American males with chronic kidney disease [Abstract]. American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 307(1), R93–R101 http://ajpregu.physiology.org/content/307/1/R93

3. Sipe, W. E., & Eisendrath, S. J. (2012, February). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: Theory and practice [Abstract].Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 57(2), 63–69 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22340145

4. American Sleep Association. Sleep and sleep disorder statistics.

5. Coppieters, I., Cagnie, B., Nijs, J., Van Oosterwijck, J., Danneels, L., De Pauw, R., … Meeus, M. (2016, April 6). Effects of stress and relaxation on central pain modulation in chronic whiplash and fibromyalgia patients compared to healthy controls [Abstract]. Pain Physician, 19(3), 119–130 https://biblio.ugent.be/publication/7161849

6. Loving-kindness meditation. (n.d.) https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/loving_kindness_meditation#data-tab-how

7. UCLA Semel Institute, Mindful Awareness Research Center. Body scan for sleep.

8. Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2012, July–August). What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. Psychotherapy, 48(2), 198–208 http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/features/pst-48-2-198.pdf

9. Kearney, D. J., Malte, C. A., Mcmanus, C., Martinez, M. E., Felleman, B., & Simpson, T. L. (2013, July 25). Loving-kindness meditation for posttraumatic stress disorder: A pilot study. [Abstract]. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26(4), 426–434

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jts.21832/full

10. Black DS, O’Reilly GA, Olmstead R, Breen EC, Irwin MR. Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;Apr;175(4):494–501. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8081

11. Neuendorf R, Wahbeh H, Chamine I, Yu J, Hutchison K, Oken BS. The effects of mind-body interventions on sleep quality: A systematic review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015. DOI:10.1155/2015/902708

12. Kundalini yoga. (n.d.) https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/types-of-yoga/kundalini

13. Lechner, T. (n.d.). 5 types of meditation decoded http://www.chopra.com/articles/5-types-of-meditation-decoded#sm.0005syqxv1brdd4p11k27d0qakfj7

14. Lo, P.-C., Huang, M.-L., & Chang, K.-M. (2003). EEG alpha blocking correlated with perception of inner light during Zen meditation [Abstract]. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 31(4), 629 http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0192415X03001272

See: Nose breathing exercises for health benefits

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