By Suesie Kendall
How to Meditate Effectively
Meditation is a skill that can be learned like any other. Of course, as with anything, when you first start it isn’t easy! You need to persevere to let it become a habit.
The good news is that it is a very pleasurable, happiness-inducing activity so it shouldn’t be too hard to keep on practicing. Once you have found the way to get yourself into a relaxed meditative state you will be able to induce this state in times of stress and deal with any bad situation more calmly.
First, you should ask yourself “Why do I want to meditate?” It may be as simple as wanting to know why so many people now meditate and seem to become so much happier if they meditate regularly. When you take your eyes off your problems and put them onto something beautiful and relaxing, even for just a short time, it clears problems from your mind. This gives you a chance to breathe deeply and relax, and to recover from built-up stress.
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Our busy lives in our busy world do not leave much time for meditation or contemplation. Most of us have quite an affluent lifestyle, yet we are always worried and are not really happy. We worry about not having enough money, whether our children are doing OK at school, how our children will turn out, how we will afford to retire, what will happen if we lose our jobs. We worry about why we are not as happy as we think we should be. We worry about the state of the world, about why physical violence and aggressive behavior is all around us.
It is our state of mind that controls our level of happiness. If you want to worry less and be happy, you need to work on your mind. Everything in your life is experienced through the preconceived ideas in your mind – your relationships, perceptions of others, work-life, home life, love life.
Your mind interprets and distorts your everyday experiences. Understanding and cultivating your mind is the key to happiness. Meditation is the key to understanding and cultivating your mind.
Your ideas, beliefs, and values were formed in early childhood, generally from your parents, and have since been refined by your experiences of life and other people. You are under a spell, a product of this conditioning. Meditation assists by allowing you to question this conditioning, see that things do not always match your expectations, allows you to think and see outside the square.
Thoughts and stories stored in your mind from our early childhood can run your life, even when you know these thoughts are not serving you well. Do you remember being criticized as a child? Does that criticism still affect your life? If you were told as a nine-year-old that the essay you had proudly handed in “lacked imagination”, should you still be allowing that to stop you from putting pen to paper?
If one teacher once said you “lacked co-ordination”, should this stop you from ever trying another sport? It sounds silly, but this is what happens to many people. We are fragile beings who trust the judgment of others and such criticism stays with us forever or until something happens to turn the belief around.
By cultivating your mind through meditation you will notice that those troubling thoughts lose some of their power, you will be able to step back and see them more clearly, see them for what they really are, and not allow them to continue to affect your life. Does it serve you to keep those limiting beliefs? If it does not, then it is worth doing whatever is necessary to change your beliefs.
As well as this, practicing meditation will allow you to learn to withdraw attention when you want to, not when you don’t want to, and it will allow you to know how to focus your attention when you want to do so.
How often do you find your attention wandering when it would be kinder to stay focused? Times such as when your child is proudly showing you their work or your partner is telling you about their day, but your mind is on what you are going to cook for dinner.
It is so easy to get distracted by a phone call, noises outside, demands on your attention from a TV program, something on the internet, or a computer game. You owe it to yourself to set these distractions aside and use your attention mindfully.
We all need to be able to go within ourselves and allow ourselves the luxury of contemplation. We also owe it to our families and others close to us to give them full attention whenever we can.
To be able to meditate, you need to shut off distractions. If you do not have time alone, tell your partner or children that you are not available for a period of time. Shut the door to your room. Set up a relaxing area, have some cushions to sit on and support your back, light some candles or burn some incense.
Sit down on your cushions and make yourself comfortable. The traditional cross-legged pose may feel strange at first, but it is the best pose, so try it. Put your hands gently in your lap. If you can hear any sounds, listen to them for a moment and decide to put them aside.
The best way to start to meditate if you have not done so before is simply to close your eyes and concentrate on watching your breath go in and out. Internally scan your body from your feet up, see where there is tension and consciously relax each area in turn. Come back to watching your breath. Each time a thought intrudes in your mind, acknowledge it, then gently push it away and come back to watching your breath.
If you are having difficulty staying focussed, count along with your breath, one on the inhale and two on the exhale, or count the length of each inhalation and exhalation. It may not be easy to stay focused to start with, but will gradually become easier.
Keep doing this for as long as you can manage. If you have not meditated before, it may only be a couple of minutes. Try to build up to at least fifteen minutes, ideally half an hour. When you decide to stop, simply open your eyes slowly and give yourself a minute or two to bring your attention back to the present before you get up and go back to your busy life.
That’s it! That is all there is to get started with meditation.
Simple and Easy Meditation Techniques
Meditation may be a challenge for most people to do as a habit. But it is not as difficult as some may think. There are several easy meditation techniques that anyone can follow toward attaining a deeper sense of relaxation. Meditation is an effective weapon against banishing stress brought about by the rigors of life. You should try it out and here are the simple steps that you can follow to help you out.
One of the first things is to find a place where you can sit comfortably. It should also be someplace where you can have few distractions as possible. Distractions are not good when you are meditating since they can keep you from developing your focus and concentration and keep your mind away from everything. Once you get the hang of meditating by keeping away the distractions, you can also do your meditation while riding the train, bus or plane.
After you have a place where you can do your meditation in comfort, you now need to choose a mantra. It can be any word that you feel can help you feel relaxed and calm. Try to go with words for your mantra that really appeals to you. It can even be your own name as long as it helps you feel positive and be aware of your meditation.
Once you have yourself comfortable and have chosen a mantra, close your eyes and start repeating the mantra to yourself. Let the mantra do what it wishes. If it is something that you wish to repeat it slowly, fast, quiet or loud, then do so. Try not to let outside thoughts to disturb you while you are doing this. Just ignore them and focus on repeating your mantra.
As you repeat the mantra, try not to get distracted and just be aware of what you are saying and focus on it. Learn also to remain relaxed and clam as you do this. In time you might sometimes find yourself going off on a daydream and stop repeating your mantra. Just try to refocus and continue on with your meditation before you ward off any further.
The key to this simple meditation is trying not to let distractions come before you when you meditate. It can be a bit hard sometimes to do first, but it will develop along the way and will help you develop your focus as well as awareness better. After some time, stop repeating your mantra and remain quiet while you are still sitting comfortably. Do this for about a couple of minutes or so. Avoid getting up immediately after your meditation. It would be similar to jumping up just after having a deep sleep. It would cause a lot of stress in itself.
The other key to effectively make use of such easy meditation techniques is to do it as a habit. Try to allot some free time in your schedule for your meditation. Making it a habit would make you improve your ability to keep out distractions when you do not need them.
This meditation technique can be done in as little as ten minutes or so. It is not such a long time to spend on something that can provide you with a lot of benefits especially when it comes to battling everyday stress.
When you do not have time to sit and meditate
Practice getting into a meditative state by performing your everyday actions with awareness. First, slow your breath down and watch your breath, then concentrate on whatever it is you are doing. If you are washing up, concentrate fully on that, think about each item as you carefully wash each part of it, and then place it deliberately and carefully into its place to dry. If you are preparing dinner, think about who is going to share your meal and where each ingredient has come from, and prepare it with care.
The meditative state can be a loss of awareness. Practicing meditation can raise our awareness, improve our sensory responses, make us more generous and bring a sense of calm and control into our lives. Meditation is a state of total relaxed focus, concentration without effort.
Meditation will allow you to own your own mind, instead of your mind dragging you to where it wants to go. Meditation in its highest form can lead to a feeling of euphoria, the highest state of happiness.
Each time you meditate you will be taking another step to improving your life, increasing your happiness and sense of wellbeing. Occasional meditation will provide you with benefits, but the only way to change your world with meditation is to practice it regularly and often.
Written by Suesie Kendall
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