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Meditation Basics

Apr 7, 2008
What is meditation, and is it as complicated as it appears? The answer to the second question is definitely "no". The first question will take a little more explanation, which will also help to explain why meditation is easier than it might seem to be.

During meditation, your mind and body are in a state of conscious relaxation and focus. You will experience sharpened awareness of both your outer surroundings and your inner being.

There are numerous schools of thought regarding meditation. At their core, however, the principles are the same. The key to the practice of meditation is to calm your mind by eliminating negative thoughts through intense focus. Afterwards, your thoughts will be less scattered and your actions more purposeful.

Picture it as spring cleaning of your inner self. Your harmful thoughts (think of your reaction to long line-ups, rude customer service representatives and your friend's new boat) are what "pollute" your mind. Meditation "cleanses" the mind, and lets you focus on the stuff that really matters.

"Where" is as Important as "How"

Your meditation session will be most effective in a calm environment. Find a room in the house where you feel comfortable. If there are other people at home, choose a location where you can close the door and muffle the noise. Turn off the phone, the dishwasher, the washing machine, and don't let anyone vacuum.

Once you're meditating on a regular basis, you'll probably want some props. A meditation pillow or chair, some scented candles and some soothing meditation audio will all help you on your journey to Zen mastery.

Contortions Not Required

You've almost certainly seen the characteristic images of meditation; people twisted up like a pretzel with flawless stance. You'll be reassured to know that this isn't at all compulsory. The plan is to be comfortably positioned so you can concentrate on your meditation, not your painful muscles. You can sit with your legs crossed or extended and with your back against the wall, you can stand up, lie down, and even walk around.

Keep in mind, however, that your back needs to be straight if you're standing or sitting. If you slump, you'll be too relaxed and run the risk of falling asleep. And for maximum comfort, wear something loose and comfy so that you're not focused on your pants cutting into your middle. You have much more important things to focus on.

Just Concentrate

A mantra can be a useful part of a meditation routine. A mantra is a word or sound that is continuously repeated, and you should be focused your mantra alone during meditation. Find a meaningful phrase or a certain word, or even just a sound that resonates with you. Although not totally necessary, a mantra will help you to really focus on your breathing and take you to a higher state of consciousness.

Focus is fundamental to your meditation experience. Think of an object in your mind or find one in your line of vision, and concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else. The same applies to a specific thought as well as to your mantra.

For a simple routine to get you started, start by settling yourself in your chosen sanctuary. Close your eyes, and envision each part of your body, from the top down or bottom up, it doesn't matter. Silently name each part as you think of it, and give it your full attention. You'll immediately notice if there's tension or discomfort in that particular location. In your mind, visualize the tension leaving that body part. You'll be amazed at the results.
About the Author
Keira Adams writes about women's wellness, including meditation techniques. If you want to know more about this calming practice, visit Meditation-Info.
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