It is an undeniable fact that meditation is an excellent way to dissipate stress and promote mental, spiritual, and physical well-being in a holistic manner. Also, it can be availed free of charge by anyone, anytime, and anywhere.
Unfortunately, not many avail and enjoy its benefits because of some these myths associated to it:
• Meditation requires deep concentration. In reality, this is just the opposite because when you meditate, you let go of conscious thoughts that clutter your brain. It relaxes by clearing your mind.
• Meditation is only done as part of religious rituals. This ancient practice transcends all religions. The peace it brings benefits everyone, regardless of his/her spiritual orientation.
• Meditation requires a specific posture to be effective. Although some assume the lotus position, this is not necessary at all. A relaxing and steady posture is enough as long as it is comfortable so as not to distract. Sitting cross-legged on a chair or a sofa is fine. However, it is
best to maintain a posture where the spine is erect while the neck and shoulders are relaxed.
• Meditation is only practiced by elderly people. Nothing could be further from the truth. It benefits anyone regardless of age. Some children as young as 8 years old can engage in meditation.
• Meditation is like hypnotism and can be harmful. Meditation is just the opposite of hypnotism where one loses consciousness of reality. Meditation, on the other hand, brings about awareness of each and every moment. While hypnotism heightens the impressions stored in one’s mind, meditation frees one of these impressions and promotes a fresh and clear consciousness. Hypnotism stirs up metabolic activity while meditation subdues it, thus bringing in calmness and relaxation.
• Meditation is thought-controlling. Thoughts come into the mind by themselves and cloud the mind. Trying to control them requires effort which is just the opposite of meditation that should be done effortlessly to be effective.
• Meditation is a coping-out strategy. Meditation is not used to escape problems but to face them in a pleasant and constructive way. It removes the bad feelings that accompany problems by shielding the mind from them; and building up inner strength and self-esteem instead.
• Meditation requires long hours to be effective. A 20-minute session, or less, is sufficient to achieve and enjoy the calmness and relaxation of meditation. Regular practice will gradually improve the ease and quality of your meditation.
Now that you have debunked the myths about mediation, you are now ready to enjoy meditation and avail of the benefits it provides. Here some steps you can follow to meditate effectively:
• Do not be concerned on the mechanics of meditation. There is no one way to do it right. Simply assume a comfortable sitting position and you are ready to meditate. For a beginner, it is alright not to immediately feel the deep sensation of calmness and tranquillity as you first sit and meditate. Over time, you will start to be aware that just sitting is all there is to meditating. Do not force yourself to change; meditation will slowly do that automatically.
• Meditate in any way most comfortable and convenient with you. There are several ways you to do meditation and for beginners, doing the breath-counting technique is the simplest and easiest to do. This is done by sitting or lying down with the spine erect but not rigid. Keeping your spine straight is good for your health. Now, focus on your breathing. While inhaling, count silently: “and…one”, “and…two”, “and … three”, “and… four”. Then exhale as you count: “and…one”, “and…two”, “and … three”, “and … four”.
Repeat the same sequence several times. Your mind may wander while doing this but just let it be. You would notice, however, that there is no feeling of any frustration as it does. Once you realize you have lost count, just re-start the rhythmic counting as you inhale and exhale. This simple method produces a very calming on you and your mind.
As you progress, you may try other forms of meditation to avoid getting tired or bored of the same ritual, like:
An image meditation: Choose a peaceful photo of a nature spot like a beach or a mountain meadow and imagine yourself there.
A chanting meditation: You can think of a mantra (word or phrase you chant repeatedly) while meditating. You may also choose to sing along to any kind of music that appeals to you. Just focus in the moment and your singing.
A walking or ambulatory meditation: Here, you simply walk very slowly, while being aware of every step you take.
Try yoga: if you prefer something more physical for it involves some degree of stretching.
• Keep a regular time each day for meditation. Set two 20-minute meditation times everyday-one in the morning and the other before going to bed. Continue with this schedule until it becomes a habit. You will soon feel the effect of these meditations by way of improved productivity, pervading calmness and over sense of well-being and happiness. A regular mechanical timer is handy to keep the time.
However, you may adjust your schedule to most a convenient for you to meditate you as long as you do it regularly. So, it could be as often as 2x a day or as seldom as every other day. The time you spend in meditation is beneficial, no matter how short it is. So, if you’ve only got five minutes, that’s fine.
• When should you do meditation? Anytime you feel stressed, or when you feel anger welling up your system, or when you are overwhelmed by emotions. Make sure you focus your attention on the feeling itself, not the reason behind the feeling. Accept what you are feeling and become curious about the sensation of the emotion in your body.
By de-mystifying meditation, you will find this practice a most practical, safe, and effective way to ease your tension and evaporate stress without resorting to expensive and dangerous drugs. Peace be with you!