Meditation is important for good health and well-being. Practiced regularly it will help you to calm your mind, focus your attention and to connect with your sub-conscious mind, or ” Inner-Self”; as well as reducing stress, and helping to avoid age-related diseases.
There are many different practices, but the core aim of most of them is the same: to go within, to create awareness of what is going on in your mind and to take control: to stop the constant chatter that goes on in your head and to just “be” to experience an awareness of the present moment; what world famous author Eckhart Tolle in his book of the same name has called “The Power of Now”
Meditation has been practiced since antiquity. Most religious traditions and cultures all over the world, have recognised that meditation is important, and recorded evidence confirms that it has been in existence for at least 4,600 years, probably longer.
Most practices we call meditation are designed to help the practitioner (i.e. you if you are doing it) to develop concentration, clarity, and a calm awareness of the true nature of the mind; and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being.
There are various techniques that the numerous practices use to focus your attention. It can be as simple as just looking at a flower, without naming it – just seeing it for what it is, it could be watching the flame of a candle, listening to a sound, repeating a mantra or observing your breath. All of these are designed to settle your mind, to focus on one thing and to stop the constant chatter of your mind.
Another reason why meditation is important is that there are also many proven health benefits that have been attributed to it. It has been proven to reduce stress, which in turn stabilises blood pressure, slows your heart rate and improves your immune function; these and other benefits will result in a longer, healthier life with improved focus and concentration and harmonious relationships.
I have practiced a number of different techniques myself for many years and I believe that this has had a very positive impact in my own life and helped me to successfully tackle a number of my life challenges and achieve positive outcomes.
There is no right or wrong way to meditate and one size definitely does not fit all. I suggest trying a number of different techniques to see which one best suits you.
Simply following your breath is a good way to start; breath is our life force and happens automatically (i.e. your body does it without your conscious intervention), so we generally take it for granted. So sit upright (in a chair or on a cushion-either way is fine) to make sure you allow your breath to flow into the lower part of your lungs freely. Get comfortable, then close your eyes, breathe normally and just observe the flow of air in and out of your lungs. It’s best to breathe in through your nose, but the outward breath can be through either your nose or mouth-whichever is most comfortable for you. If you feel your attention being distracted (which you definitely will) just gently bring it back to the breath.
There are two ways to observe your breath; try both to see which one is most comfortable for you:
1. Just observe the rise and fall of your diaphragm- lower part of your lungs,
as you breathe in and out-remember to breath normally, or
2. Simply observe the air on the area below your nostrils, above your lips as it flows in and out (this method requires your mouth to be closed on both the in and out breaths). You should feel your breath as it will make that area slightly colder as the breath moves in and out.
Try meditating with someone you are close to. This may encourage you both to do it regularly, but can also strengthen your relationship at the spiritual level.