Meditation is tricky to define as it means different things in different religions and organisations. Basically it is the technique of focusing the mind on a particular object or thought using mindfulness to clear the mind and enter a state of calm.
Meditation has been used for thousands of years. The earliest records are in the Hindu religion and relate to Dhyana meditation. It is also traditional in Sikhism and Buddhism. It is regarded as the path to enlightenment.
It has gained in popularity in recent times as a way to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and even pain aswell as giving an increased sens of peace and wellbeing. There has been much research into the health benefits both neurological and cardiovascular in addition to the psychological.
This gain in popularity now means there are many apps to help you get in to the right state. Searching your app store will bring up many options. Calm is a very popular one that has a free version as well as a more comprehensive choice in the paid version.
Many people think it is about emptying the mind but in fact it centres on focusing on one thing and giving full attention to that. having an app to help focus the mind can be helpful.
I mean it sounds simple, right, just focus on one thing. In fact it is not that simple and like anything is a skill that needs to be practised. Our brains are thinking machines and getting it to focus on one thing to the exclusion of all others needs to be worked at. however the benefits are worth the effort and can help us cope with the trials and problems of life.
The first process to get involved with when meditating is the quest for mental clarity and to get rid of mental confusion. You may find yourself entering into a state of silence with your thoughts flowing with no signs of sound. You may become so fixated on this state that you will feel as if you are far away from reality. Meditation involves the right kind of focus.
This mental clarity and getting rid of mental confusion is where the next step in meditation comes into play. The goal of meditation is to get into a state of peace with one’s mind. The goal is to let the mind operate without interference from outside forces, such as stress or anxiousness.
This is regarded as being in the flow state.
“Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one like playing jazz.”
– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Professor of Psychology and Management, Claremont Graduate University
This peace that is achieved through the practice of meditation will then lead to insight on the very real difficulties that are encountered in life and this will enable the person to navigate through life in a much more positive way. Of course, this requires that the individual can clear their minds of obstacles before they can move on. This is another of the basic principles of meditation.
Another benefit of meditation involves self-awareness. The focus of self-awareness is to know ourselves and our place in the larger scheme of things.
Meditation is really about creating a sense of openness to our inner self by letting go of our control over external elements in our lives. This is another reason why we need to clear our minds as much as possible before meditating.
Dhamma is another of the earliest forms of meditation. Dhamma is a Buddhist term that means “the path.” It means the path that leads to enlightenment.
To achieve the results of meditation, we must have an understanding of what the Buddhist practice means and what this path entails. For this reason, meditative training is also referred to as dhamma training. The attainment of dhamma is the ultimate goal of meditation.
The practice of meditation helps the individual to develop a relaxed and contented attitude. There is no doubt that this can only come about through deep relaxation and the ability to detach oneself from stressful life situations. It can be quite a struggle for the person to be able to achieve these things, especially if they have a very active and stressful lifestyle.
The benefits of meditation are related to an increased level of peace within the mind, a state of calm and contentment, internal peace, and the opening of the mind to wisdom and insight. Through meditation the mind develops a heightened sense of awareness. The mind and body are slowly able to relax and it can be said that it trains the mind to relax.
Learning to access the meditative state is certainly a very beneficial alternative to prescription medications and counseling. Meditation is a great way to help the person cope with stress and anxiety that they may be facing in their daily lives.
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Meditation once mastered can be performed in as little as 5 minutes although many people spend longer than that. Many of us find meditating particularly beneficial in the morning as it is a great way to set up to cope with the daily pressures of life.