It is my honor to bring you this guest post by author, Jarmila Gorman of Finer Minds and Mind Valley. If you have not checked out the voluminous articles, courses and resources Finer Minds and Mind Valley offer – I highly recommend you do. They are amazing companies that show us how to do business and live our best lives consciously and in joy. Thank you Jarmila for this wonderful post on meditation.
The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life. For it is only through meditation that you can undertake the journey to discover your true nature, and so find the stability and confidence you will need to live, and die, well.
~ Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
Meditation Is . . .
Some people meditate for spiritual reasons, but most practice meditation for a better quality of life. Those who meditate regularly invariably increase their sense of well-being. Practitioners define meditation many ways, as quieting the mind, focusing the mind, paying attention, turning inward, being present, being aware of the present moment, or just being.
Whichever way it’s sliced, meditation is about consciousness, the capacity for awareness of our environment, thoughts, sensations, and existence. Meditation is the act of letting our mind de-clutter and settle into stillness, or a spiritual cleansing exercise. Is this necessary? Many practitioners will say it is, but that is something they discovered through practice.
Meditation and the Quality of Life
Our thoughts and feelings are inextricably tied together, and each constantly affects the other. The busyness and stress of daily life, our worries, fears, doubts, and assumptions clog the mind and rile up our emotions. Living with a mind full of emotionally toxic thoughts is why many people feel tired, angry, depressed, anxious, or sick.
When we meditate, distressing thoughts (that serve no helpful purpose) lose energy. The mind-mud caused by our over-thinking settles. In its place is a clear stillness, open to what is, and to possibilities. By attaining calm, our disgruntled feelings and emotions are allowed a break. It is easy to see how this improves a person’s sense of well-being.
Practicing meditation will improve your ability to focus and concentrate, two very good attributes for productivity and creativity. Many meditators also report a deeper sense of purpose or meaning in their life.
Practicing meditation has excellent health benefits. It lowers stress, anxiety, cholesterol, and blood pressure, and helps people manage or stop addictions and self-defeating habits.
Practicing meditation typically raises peoples’ capacity for spontaneity and happiness or joy. Positive thoughts are more likely to arise when the mind is not busy magnifying mole hills into mountains.
Practicing meditation will help you understand yourself and others. Meditators are generally self-accepting, and many catch a glimpse of a higher, or less physical dimension of themselves. When people are self-accepting, they have more intimate, and satisfying relationships as well.
Getting Started: The Meditation Buffet
There is transcendental meditation, Zen and mindfulness meditation, Taoist and Buddhist meditation (to name a few). The important thing is to experiment and discover what works best for you, and what you enjoy.
Some meditations focus on the body. People follow their breath, or breath rhythmically. They may focus on any physical sensations that come into awareness. Chanting and mantras (repeated words or phrases) are two more options.
People meditate by being aware of what is around them or by focusing on something in the environment. They might read and reflect on inspirational materials, contemplate nature, concentrate on an object (i.e., candle, painting), or simply keep awareness of the present moment.
Many meditators use visualization to inhabit a peaceful, imaginary setting, to be with healing energy, or they might focus on a shape or an object held in the mind. Other meditations involve cultivating qualities such as compassion, kindness, and forgiveness.
It is best not to eat right before meditating and some practitioners recommend taking a shower before settling on a cushion. However, sitting in the lotus position on the floor is unnecessary; many people prefer sitting tall, in a chair. Burning candles and incense are optional.
A Simple Breathing Meditation
Many beginning meditators enjoy taking a class to get started, but here is a basic meditation on the breath you can try right now.
Take a couple slow, long breaths. As you exhale, let your thoughts go.
Continue breathing normally and let your mind, or awareness, rest on your chest, abdomen, or nose, wherever it feels most comfortable.
As you breathe, notice how it feels and savor the sensation of air flowing in and out of your body.
Whenever your attention wanders away, bring it back to the breath. (If it wanders off 50 times, bring it back to the breath 50 times.)
Close your eyes and continue for a minute or two . . .
About Jarmila Gorman
Jarmila is a writer in the personal development niche with a strong – and ever-growing – desire to help people create their dream lives. She is a passionate student of the amazing abilities and potential of the human mind. From her lifelong love of athletics came an interest in finding out just what the words “limit” means; and how to get the mind past its whining to push on and do more. Years of ultra-cycling and an attitude of “bring it on, I can do this” have honed her ability to overcome self-imposed limitations in other areas of her life, a skill she now shares with a worldwide audience. Jarmila is a writer with a goal to inspire you to LIVE your life, on purpose, out loud and with a big smile on your face. You can find more of Jarmila’s articles on meditation at the Silva Method Life. When she is not writing, Jarmila is outside taking photographs, hiking the Colorado mountains or cycling to the far horizon.