A Simple Introduction to Meditation

What is Meditation?

It means many different things to most people. One eloquent definition of meditation by Pema Chodron states, “…by learning to peacefully abide in sitting meditation: (we are) creating the space for our garden to grow. Then we can cultivate qualities that will allow us to live our lives in full bloom.” (Turning the Mind Into an Ally, p#7) Mary NurrieStearns, LCSW, RYT, clearly defines meditation as, “…taking some time to sit; focus your attention on your breath, mantra or stillness; and witness your thoughts.” (Yoga for Anxiety, p#176)

What does meditation mean to you?

How do we Meditate?

Some people spend their whole life in pursuit of this answer, but we aren’t going to make it that complicated. To begin your meditation practice you just need to find a way to be physically comfortable, keep a high quality of breathe, and find as much mental stillness as possible. Some people never sit or find physical stillness during meditation, but it is commonly believed that the stiller the body the greater ease with which you will find mental stillness. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. The important thing is to find what works for you.  Let us explore some helpful meditation techniques.  What are some techniques you use?

  • Moving Mindfulness – walking, hiking, yoga asana and other deep awareness movement
  • Rhythmic Movement – swaying, ‘mudra tapping’, muscle tension & release
  • Sound Vibrations – chanting, mantra repetition, kirtan, singing/relaxing music, ‘om’ing
  • Withdrawal of Senses – ear plugs, eyes closed
  • Single Mental Focus – scents, candle flame, breath, mantra
  • Thought Detachment – non-judgmental thought labeling, non-identification with thought

How does meditating help us?

According to Psychology Today, “Neuroscientists have found that meditators shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex – brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. This mental shift decreases the negative effects of stress, mild depression and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear.”

Meditating can be challenging and sometimes very frustrating, but science has proven it to be a practice of uncountable positive effects. With regular practice you can expect to be calmer, think more clearly, sleep better, and so much more.

I would love to hear how meditation has helped or challenged you? Share what has or has not worked for you.

(This post was originally posted October 2010)

Published in: on April 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. i love meditating. its a very important part of my life and me dealing with my mental illness.

    • Me too! I wish doctors would have told me years ago that I could meditate, do yoga and eat healthy to treat my bi-polar. I still need to take meds, but nothing like before. My doctors have said my dosages are below “therapeutic” levels, but I am happier and more stable than almost anyone I know. Life is a grand adventure.

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