Do Yoda Proud: Meditation 101

by Dick Ingersoll

Meditation means to be in a state where your body and mind are aware and relaxed and centered. People who faithfully practice this art give an account of improved understanding, focus, and concentration, as well as a more positive outlook in life.

Meditation is typically thought of as being associated with monks, shaman and other spiritual disciplines. However, you don’t have to be a monk or medium to take pleasure in its benefits. And you don’t even have to be in a particular place to practice it. You could even try it in your own front room!

While there are lots of varying methods to meditation, the basic principles never change. The most important among these principles is that of doing away with obstructive, negative, and wandering thoughts and fantasies, and soothing the mind with a deep feeling of being centered. This clears the mind of debris and readies it for a higher level of activity.

The pessimistic thoughts you have – whether it be of noisy neighbors, power hungry officemates, that parking ticket you received, and irritating junk mail- are said to contribute to the ‘polluting’|”Cluttering”| of the mind, and blocking them out permits for the ‘cleansing’ of the mind so that it might focus on purer, more significant thoughts.

Some practitioners even shut out all sensory input – no sights, no sounds, and anything touchable – and try to separate themselves from the chaos surrounding them. You may now focus on a deep, reflective thought if this is your goal. It may seem deafening at first, since we are all too use to always hearing and viewing things, but as you get use to this exercise you will find yourself becoming more conscious of everything around you.

If you find the meditating positions you see on television threatening – those with ridiculously arched backs, and agonizing-looking contortions – no worries. The principle here is to be in a relaxing position favorable to concentration. This might be while sitting Indian style, standing, lying down, and even strolling around.

If the position permits you to be at ease and become centered, then that would be a good starting point. While sitting or standing, the spine should be straight and aligned, but not so as to be uncomfortable. In other positions, the only no-no is slouching and falling asleep.

Loose, breathable clothing help a lot in the process since ill- fitting clothes have a tendency to bind you up and make you feel tense.

The location in which you perform meditation should have a soothing atmosphere. It might be in your living room, or bedroom, or any other area that you feel relaxed in. You might want an exercise mat if you plan to take on the more challenging positions (if you feel more focused doing so, and if the contortionist in you is screaming for release). You may want to have the place arranged so that it is calming to your nerves.

Absolute quiet helps most people relax and meditate, so you might want a noise free, isolated area away from the ringing of the phone or the swishing of the washing machine. Pleasing scents also help in that regard, so having on hand many aromatic candles isn’t such a bad idea either.

The monks you see on T.V. making those monotonous sounds are in reality just performing their mantra. This, in simple terms, is a statement of belief, of sorts, a simple sound which, for these practitioners, holds a mystic value.

You do not need to perform such; although, it would be beneficial to note that focusing on repetitive actions such as controlled breathing, or humming help the practitioner gain a higher state of consciousness.

The principle here is center. You could also try becoming centered on a particular object or thought, or even, while keeping your eyes open, focus on a single sight.

One example routine would be to – while in a meditative state – silently name every part of you body and focusing your consciousness on that part. While doing this you should be aware of any tension on any part of your body. Mentally visualize releasing this tension. It works like magic.

In summary, meditation is a reasonably risk-free practice and its rewards are well worth the effort (or the lack of effort – remember we’re relaxing).

Studies have discovered that meditation does have beneficial physiologic effects to the body. And there has been a increasing agreement in the medical community to look into further the studying of the effects of such. So soon, who knows, that mystical, esoteric thing we call meditation may turn into a science itself!

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