Hello everyone! Happy Day to you!
Since we went into shelter in place I began the journey of meditation. As many of you know, I am an athlete, and I love challenges. As an athlete I have this "illusion" if we may call it that, that I can pretty much do anything. Well...The practice of meditation has proven to me that not everything is as simple as I think it is. At least, not as easy as I thought originally. I can honestly say that this practice has been one of the most challenging ones I have faced. I have now a new found respect for those who are able to meditate. Since this has been a bit of a challenge I decided to learn, and write about it.
What is Meditation?
It turns out, it isn't about becoming a better person, or a new person. The dictionary definition says, " Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state." So, It is about learning to look at your thoughts, feelings, and emotions without judgment to gain a healthier perspective. Once you do that you will gain a sense of calmness.
My original thought was that meditation just meant to sit down quietly without thinking. Not that simple, or easy!
Meditation is a skill. Like exercising, it takes consistent practice to really achieve the desired results. And, I have discovered through my trial and error that it is indeed a practice not a perfection. There are some days when my focus wonders so much. Some days it is challenging to focus on my breathing. My mind (ego) goes to all the things that are happening around me. So, I try a different time of the day, a different room, etc.
I realize that the mind really is a crazy place. It has taken some time to get comfortable with the crazy rides of it.
Benefits of Meditation
There is plenty of scientific data showing the different benefits of meditation. Many people, like me, start meditating to reduce the levels of stress and anxiety, and cultivate peace of mind. The less known benefits, such as lower levels of stress hormones, reduction of inflammation in the body, better decision making, improved learning skills and memory can have a positive impact on mental, emotional, and physical health. Again, achieved only with consistence practice.
Types of Meditation
I didn't know that there are different types of meditation. It turns out, there are. Here are a few examples:
Guided Meditation... great for beginners. An experienced teacher walks you through the process. It is easier to follow the directions of the trusted guide.
Unguided Meditation... is usually for more seasoned students. With this type of meditation you are able to focus more on your body, your feelings and how they relate to your body.
Calming Meditation... Aimed to achieve a quieter, peaceful state of mind.
Insight Meditation...Is usually set with the intention to transform the way of thinking to a kinder, more compassionate mind.
Reflection Meditation...This type of meditation invites to asks questions and being aware of your physical reaction to the answers.
Resting awareness...This type of meditation allows you to just truly rest your mind. When a thought arises there is no judgment, just awareness of it as you let it get through you.
Loving kindness...This type of meditation focuses on others. Whether you know them or not. You direct positive energy and well-being onto those you are thinking about.
Body Scan Meditation... The body is usually doing different things from our mind. This technique focuses in bringing the body and the mind in sync.
At first, it takes a lot of time and effort to sit in silence and calm your mind on a daily basis, as you are literally building new "muscles" in your brain, and just like exercising in order to be effective you must practice until you have the right technique.
But if you want faster results there is help. Another approach to meditation is with some form of feedback built into it. There are several options for that:
The HeartMath Institute offers technology to check your heart rhythm patterns, which are a reflection of your emotions.
This company is offering, due to the challenging present times, FREE access to the HeartMath Experience. A course in which you will be taught to tune your mind with your heart. Here is the link: https://store.heartmath.com/tech/?_ga=2.120275535.63255400.1588620229-1156904914.1588620229
Sound Entrainment .Guided meditations with sound technology. A good one is Holosync Audio Technology. Here is the link:
NeuroFeedback (Entry level). Wearable tech that allows you to quantify your brain's ability to calm and focus itself as you go, so you get real time visualization of the effectiveness of your practice. Muse Headband is the one to try.
Overall however, the most important thing that I have learned thus far is that to start a Meditation practice, we must approach our own thoughts and feelings with the same kindness we would if we were talking to a loved one or dear friend.
The first thing we must do is to learn how to be kind to ones-self. One of the most challenging facets of life. How to let go of self judgment and criticism.
Meditation to me has become a journey of learning how to truly love myself. Once again, I have much to learn.
How about you? Do you meditate? How is the experience for you?
Stay Well and Healthy!