“Meditation” is a mental state in itself, but it is also known as a practice in general. There is no harm in practicing it. If you practice regularly, you can maintain your mental balance even in adverse situations and get many other benefits.
“Meditation” is a state of thoughtless awareness, which is different than sleep or samadhi. In this state, there are no cosmic thoughts in your mind, but you are fully conscious.
In simple words – Meditation is a way to concentrate the mind. It helps to regain focus, increase willpower, control emotions and cravings, and understand the causes of bad habits.
There are many ways to practice meditation. With the help of these techniques, the inner energy called prana (life force) is created and the spirit of compassion, love, patience, generosity, and forgiveness is developed.
Apart from this, it also has many health benefits like reducing stress and high blood pressure.
In this article, you will get to know everything that you want to know about meditation, like its benefits, rules and ways of doing it.
What is Meditation
On TV, internet, phone, everywhere you will find something to hear or read about it. But despite its popularity, not many people know what meditation really is.
According to some people, meditation is a mental concentration i.e. meditation is to concentrate the mind, some people think that meditation is done by those who want peace or contentment.
All exercises are not really meditation. All these are alternatives to meditation because it is a very difficult task for the common man to calm his mind completely or stop many thoughts coming into his mind.
In meditation, nothing or any person is imagined, but peace is felt physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If you can slow down the thoughts coming in your mind through Thoughtless Awareness then it will benefit you immensely.
When you take a look at the various explanations and articles on meditation, they often ask for a few moments to sit quietly or ponder. In fact, meditation is much more than that. It is such a feeling of deep peace that occurs when the mind is calm purely.
True meditation is one in which instead of thinking about the unchangeable past and uncertain future, the focus is on the present moment.
Types of Meditation
There is no right or wrong way to meditate, all you have to do is do a practice that is important to you and enhances your personality.
There are many types of meditation, six of them are as follows:
Vipassana is the most important meditation method. Its purpose is to focus on mental peace. Breath is used in this process.
This type of meditation is good for people who have no one to guide them, as it can be practiced alone and easily.
Spiritual meditation is used in many religions like Hinduism etc. It is similar to praying. The big difference between worship and meditation is – while you worship, you feel connected to God or the universe as soon as you feel peace around you but in meditation feeling of deep peace occurs and the mind gets in zero thought state.
This practice is beneficial for those who like a calm environment and need only a little spiritual development.
Focused meditation tries to bring concentration using any one of the five senses.
For example, you can focus on something internal such as breathing as the target or something external such as counting the beads of a rosary or looking at the flame of a candle.
As the name suggests, this practice can be useful for everyone who needs extra focus in their life.
This practice may include walking in the woods, gardening, qigong (Qigong – breathing control in China) and other dynamic activities.
Dynamic meditation is good for those who find peace in doing something and also like to keep running it to give peace to their mind.
This type of meditation consists of repeating a word, sentence or sound like “Om” which is most commonly used in this process to clear and calm the mind.
By doing this meditation, you will experience peace and purity of mind more deeply.
Some people find mantra meditation easier because they find it easier to pronounce a single word than to focus on the breath. It is also a good exercise for those who do not like peace at all.
This has been studied the most scientifically.
Mantra is more suited to this practice than meditation, it is also done using mantras or words that are necessary for meditation.
This practice is useful for those who are serious about continuing the practice of meditation i.e. really wants to meditate.
Some of the methods or rules of meditation are as follows:
1. Choose the right time to meditate. The best time is from 4 in the morning to 4 in the evening.
2. Practice in a quiet place where no one can distract you. Sit in a comfortable position. Your sitting position also makes a difference. Feel yourself calm, relaxed, and stable.
3. Keep your spine straight and sit straight. Don’t over-stretch or loosen your shoulders and neck. Keep it in a normal position.
4. Try to keep your stomach empty during the exercise. There is sluggishness in meditating after having a meal. However, it is not necessary to meditate when you are very hungry. You should eat food first because even in this situation your attention will be towards food.
5. Wear loose-fitting and comfortable clothes.
6. If you are feeling cold, do some exercise first. Exercising a little body heat or doing yoga practice before meditation improves blood circulation. It removes the restlessness and laziness of the body.
7. Take a deep breath. Along with deep breathing, it is always good to do some nadishodhana pranayama i.e. yoga which improves blood flow in blood vessels.
8. Keep a small smile on your face while meditating. It helps you find relaxation, peace and focus in meditation.
9. While sitting and meditating, keep your eyes closed. With this, the mind does not wander while meditating.
10. After the exercise is over, slowly open your eyes. You will feel refreshed.
Try practicing meditation by doing the following.
- Sit or lie down comfortably. If needed, you can also use a chair or pillow.
- Close your eyes. If desired, use a mask that cools the eyes.
- Focus your attention on the breath and observe your chest, shoulders, ribs and abdomen as well as noticing body movements as you breathe in and out. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its speed or intensity.
- This process will take two to three minutes to start and then try to maintain it for a longer period of time.
There are also many other types of meditation techniques that have different ways of doing them.
Right time to do meditation
Meditation can be done at any time. However, early morning or late night time is the best time to meditate as the world remains calm at this time i.e. outside noise is less.
The advantage of meditating at this time is that you do not have to worry about doing it with daily tasks and you do not have trouble with phone calls or other household chores. Or you can also take out time according to your own, like if you have children in the house, then you can do meditation after their sleep.
This creates balance and helps to make meditation a part of your life. The good thing about meditating in the morning is that your stomach is empty at that time. Meditation and yoga should be done about four hours after eating.
The following are the health benefits of meditation, which have been proven by scientific studies –
1. It reduces stress
Most people try to meditate to reduce stress. A study that included more than 3,500 adults found that meditation reduced their stress levels.
Research has also shown that meditation can also improve stress-related conditions, such as irritability due to irregular bowel movements, stress due to an injury or accident, and fibromyalgia (muscle and bone pain).
2. Worrying about the matter becomes less
The lesser the stress, the lesser the anxiety. Meditation also helps in curing diseases caused by anxiety, such as phobias (fear of anything), social anxiety (what the society will say), paranoid thoughts, obsessive behavior and disturbances in the mind etc.
According to many studies, adopting a variety of meditation techniques is beneficial in reducing anxiety. Meditation also helps in controlling the anxiety caused due to high work pressure in the office.
3. Enhances emotional health
By doing some types of meditation, your attitude towards yourself changes and your attitude towards life does also becomes positive.
According to two studies of Vipassana meditation, it has reduced stress in 4,600 adults.
According to another study, people who do Vipassana meditation have more control over their brain activity than those who do not.
For those who used to meditate, there is a change in their thinking, they are now thinking more positively than before.
4. Increases self-awareness
Certain types of meditation help you understand yourself. By which you can control yourself in your troubles and adversity.
For example, the purpose of self-assessment meditation is to help you understand yourself more and connect with the people around you.
5. Increases concentration
It increases the strength and patience needed to concentrate. For example, one study looked at the effects of Vipassana meditation after eight weeks and found that participants had an increased ability to meditate.
Another study also found that practicing meditation four days a week also gives you the benefit of meditation.
6. Reduces the problem of forgetting
To improve concentration, you have to do meditation regularly and with a clear mind. This helps in getting rid of the problem of forgetfulness and dementia in old age.
According to studies, many types of meditation techniques have been found to increase concentration, memory, and brain speed in older people as well.
7. Meditation makes you kinder
Metta, a type of meditation also known as loving-kindness meditation, cultivates compassion in you. By practicing it, one develops a sense of compassion and forgiveness towards others.
8. Helps to give up bad habits
Your mental discipline increases through meditation. Due to this your self-control increases and it is also easier to know what is the cause of your problem. Because of this, your habit of being dependent on other things ends.
The psychic you develop from it can help you break dependence by increasing your self-control and awareness of triggers for addictive behavior.
Meditation helps to regain focus, increase willpower, control emotions and cravings, and understand the causes of bad habits.
9. Improves sleep
Almost half of India’s population suffers from the problem of insomnia.
According to studies, people who do meditation get more quality sleep at the right time than people who do not meditate.
It has often been seen that people who do not meditate are troubled by sleep disorders or frequent sleep breaks in the middle of bedtime.
10. Reduces any type of physical pain
Your pain is directly related to your brain and it gets worse in stressful situations.
One study showed that people who experienced similar types of pain, some of whom meditated and some did not, have a greater ability to tolerate pain and even feel less pain.
It really happens what you think. If you think more about a problem, then it will feel more and if you take away the ‘attention’ from it, the same will not be felt at all. Meditation creates control over that ‘meditation’ itself.
11. Helps in reducing blood pressure
Meditation reduces the pressure on the heart. Which improves physical health.
In experiments with 996 people, it was found that when they focused on a “silent mantra” and repeated it repeatedly, it lowered blood pressure by an average of five percent.
In some cases, meditation by controlling the signals of the nervous system can also lower blood pressure because the nervous system is directly related to the blood vessels and the heart.
What does meditation feel like
With the speed at which people learn to meditate, it is a little difficult to equate the experience with them. Because every person has a different effect according to his mind.
The “9 Stages of Meditation” contains a very beautiful and illustrative description of the things felt by a meditator, in this picture it is explained how to feel after meditation through “Educating the Elephant” (as in the picture) happens.
As soon as you start meditating and diverting all your attention from the world around you to the thoughts, you will be surprised to see that even in this activity you will find yourself busy in the opposite way as you are in doing other tasks.
Because in the inner world your thoughts, your feelings, some memories, mostly fears and a lot of past, some good moments, etc all come together in it.
It’s not as long as it seems. During it, you should calm down for a while, take a break, where your mind is calm for just a moment and then focus again on the focused object.
Your mind may wander from time to time but you have to focus it back on the object. This process is important to learn to do meditation, as well as how to put the mind back.
If you keep practicing meditation for a few weeks or months, at a time you will reach a stage where you can keep your focus on the object continuously for about half the time.
Then your attention will not be distracted by external attractions or things because by then you must have understood that in reality, the mind wanders from inside and not from outside. In fact, the biggest change at this stage is that you start taking it to heart.
By the fourth stage, you will start feeling things from a whole new level. You will be able to recognize the things your mind wandered about even before they arose.
Therefore, your reactions to negative feelings and thoughts will become, in a short time, intense and positive. After that try to calm yourself down. Now you will feel a little lethargic and a little excited. This euphoria is the opposite of depression, but it is still less for higher levels of attention.
Stage 5, 6 and 7
By the 5th stage, you have almost learned to control your mind. Now you can sometimes meditate even without a focused object.
Now all you have to do is learn to control your mind, due to which all kinds of distracting thoughts come to mind.
You have to recognize the stillness within you through meditation. You will gradually start to realize that whatever happens is because of your inner experience.
If you think good then everything will be good and if you think negatively then problems will arise everywhere.
This is all your mind game, but now you will start having fun with this brain game.
By the 7th stage, your meditation will become so strong that you will see more effect of meditation in 24 hours than the time of meditation alone.
Stage 8 and 9
These are the final stages of meditation, in which you have to learn to focus your attention like the waves in the ocean.
People typically report these feelings during their meditation practice:
- deep peace.
- Rebirth of body and mind.
- Contentment, feeling well and physical pleasure.
- Feeling whole and focused.
But, the true feeling of meditation can only be experienced and words alone cannot adequately describe it.
Disadvantages of Meditation
Although meditation has many benefits, it also has some drawbacks that are important to know, which may arise during the practice.
This is especially important for beginners, who may be facing one of the challenges listed below. Meditation and yoga teachers should also be aware of these important drawbacks, as their students may face similar challenges, and may need support.
1. Finding the “Right” meditation technique for yourself
There are many different approaches to meditation, and all you have to do is find the one that works for you.
2. Coping with your suppressed feelings
The deepest thing you can experience in your meditation is that you recognize yourself. In the same process, you are faced with buried and repressed feelings.
The main purpose of meditation is to destroy the feelings of anger, fear, or jealousy deep down inside you that make you feel uncomfortable.
If the meditator is unaware of this deficiency, then when confronted with those buried emotions, he feels that something is wrong and may even stop meditating.
3. Trying to be a complete meditator
You might even have expectations of yourself. If you sit for long periods of time, after meditating, you feel calm and your anger is controlled, etc.
We are human beings and in today’s environment, it is difficult to just sit peacefully and concentrate, so be constant with it and don’t think of becoming a complete meditator.
4. To understand meditation as a therapy
Meditation is a long-term practice that provides health and inner nourishment. However, if someone is facing difficulties and is in dire need of treatment. So it is not the cure. Maybe they really need a therapist.
5. Danger of getting away from illusion
A special quality of meditation is to get away from illusion. But in India, it can be harmful. However, it is important to stay away from illusion as it does not affect the drama happening in your life and helps you to feel peace of mind.
However, turning away from illusion does not mean ignoring, possessing or neglecting anything. You should not be isolated from the people and activities around you. Because they all love you and you should not become passive or useless.