The Ultimate Guide to Meditation

The Ultimate Guide to Meditation

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Meditation. What is it? Unless you live under a rock, you have definitely heard of it. Maybe you’ve tried it a few times, or if you’re truly dedicated to it, you do it every day. Meditation is one of the best things you can do for yourself, as it has the potential to truly transform your life.

 

The first thing we need to do is clear up some common misconceptions. It is not strictly a “Buddhist” or “Hindu” religious activity, although those religions incorporate meditation into their beliefs. In fact, every major religion incorporates some form of meditation in their teachings. If you don’t like the name “meditation,” just go with “quieting the mind.” Try not to get caught up in labels. In practice, meditation isn’t thinking of nothing, but that is the end goal. Meditation also isn’t a waste of time at all, as you will find out.

 

Meditating doesn’t really make sense from a time management perspective, seeing as we all live busy lives and always “have something else to do.” This excuse is what stopped me from having a daily practice for so long, as I could always rationalize away meditation by thinking of the infinite amount of things that I “should” be doing instead.

 

Scientific studies have shown that dozens of positive effects come from meditation. Over 3000 studies have shown that meditation improves happiness levels, decreases stress, lowers blood pressure, increases attention span, relieves depression, etc. I’m not going to link to the scientific studies in this article, because there is a wealth of information about this topic if you just do an internet search. If you need further convincing, here is a list of 100 positive effects of meditation.

 

There can also be a powerful spiritual aspect to meditation. Meditation can help you feel closer to God or a higher power. Over time, meditation slowly raises your level of consciousness, just as reading pop culture magazines, for example, lowers it. A main thing that you will realize as a result of meditation is that you are not your thoughts. You are the awareness behind your thoughts, the “watcher” of your thoughts.

 

There are many different conflicting ways to meditate. some people say that you should sit cross-legged with your eyes open, others say sitting in a chair with your eyes open, others say lying down, etc. The main thing is, it doesn’t really matter. Do whatever you want as long as you’re relaxed and not going to fall asleep during it.

 

When meditating, there are very few rules. The goal is to quiet the constantly chattering mind and simply be at peace, allowing yourself to be in the present moment. That’s it. It sounds simple, but it is unbelievably hard in practice, especially at the beginning.

 

When you get into position and start meditating, your mind will begin to wander. You will think of what you need to do later on that day, something that happened earlier, etc. This will happen A LOT in the beginning. A common experience is getting mad at yourself for thinking so much, which is very unhelpful. Accept that many, many thoughts will cross your mind during meditation and just let them float by.

 

Visualization can be really helpful during meditation. I like to visualize a pool of water, and when a thought comes by, the pool of water ripples outwards until the pool is still again. Try whatever works for you. Some people imagine a clear blue sky, and when a thought appears, they see it as a cloud which quickly disintegrates.

 

For beginners, focusing on the breath, staring into a candle, or listening to calming music is very helpful. Eventually, you will be able to just be at peace, without many thoughts entering your mind. This allows you to go deeper and deeper into your meditation, giving you a profound sense of peace. Remember, this takes much practice, and you need to fully accept wherever you’re at in your journey.

 

You have to make meditation a huge priority in your life, otherwise it simply won’t get done, won’t become a habit, and won’t benefit you. This isn’t to say that meditating every once in a while isn’t good, which it is, but it won’t make much of a difference in your life unless you commit to it and do it daily.

 

Starting off, you don’t need to commit a lot of time to meditation. To just get the habit started, start with five or ten minutes daily. It helps if you can incorporate this into your morning or nightly routines so that it can become a habit more easily.

 

Meditation as a habit is not something that you will see direct improvements from in your life right away, as opposed to something like lifting weights. It takes many months of daily practice to noticeably shift your awareness and increase the level of presence and peace you have in your daily life. I can assure you that it is completely worth the time spent on it, especially because the time spent meditating will become more enjoyable the more you practice.

 

I have had some amazing experiences while meditating. Many times, indescribable positive emotions flow through me. Flashes of insight, unique ideas, and revelations come to me. Each time I meditate, I can go for longer and longer periods of time without thinking any thoughts. I promise that you can get to this point and much farther if you commit to a daily practice.

 

Whenever I talk to people who have meditated for years, I notice that they all are very calm, and fully present. They seem at peace with themselves and the world. They rarely, if ever, worry about things, as worrying is resisting the present moment as it is. These people seem to realize that worrying is mentally creating a possible future that doesn’t have any reality in the present moment. These people usually don’t have much of an ego, as they have realized that the ego is just a concept created by the mind.

 

I started meditating sporadically a couple of years ago, when I was in high school. I had read about the benefits, and wanted to see for myself. I meditated whenever I could remember to do so, and when I did, thoughts would flood my mind and I was never at peace. I gave up on it for the time being, until I read that the only way for me to receive real benefits from meditation was if I did it daily, no exceptions. I started to do just that, and made meditation a large priority in my life. I have not looked back since. I am starting to see many positive results in my life, and I have no doubt in my mind that meditation will continue to improve my life more and more as time goes on. In your meditation practice, remember this quotation by spiritual guru J. Krishnamurti, “Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end.”

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