Meditation Technique Answering the Five Questions
Even though it is quite easy to define what yoga is, that is not the case with meditation. This is despite the fact that meditation is a subset of yoga. After all, dhyana or meditation is one of the Ashtanga of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. Different sources define meditation in different words. There are even different meditation techniques in different religions and cultures. One can expect this since meditation has been around since 1500 BC. Like yoga, the origin of meditation lies in the Oriental world. However, today, it is prevalent in most major religions and is found even outside the fold of religion. It is an established technique for mental, psychological, and emotional therapy that anyone can employ to control their minds. After all, at its core, that is what meditation is – a technique to gain control over your consciousness.
Meditation and Meditation Techniques
Most modern definitions of meditation agree on three points. The first is that meditation is a practice of mental self-regulation. The second is that this practice helps one train their minds in focus and awareness. The third is that the purpose of meditation is the general well-being of the mind that translates to physical and emotional well-being. One can consider it independently as a mental training exercise or see it as a part of a broader institution like yoga, prayer, or therapeutic medicine.
A number of different types of meditation techniques exist, but a very general classification is possible. The concentration or focused method is subjective while the mindfulness or receptive method is objective. The first asks a person to single-mindedly concentrate on one object only. This can be a religious, spiritual, or other symbol or object, a feeling, an aspect of yourself like your breathing, or even a mantra or thought. You can allow your own experience or feeling to take the wheel here, as long as it connects back to the subject of your meditation. The second method promotes full, open awareness for stabilizing your mind. This method requires one to be fully aware and receptive to your surroundings without being judgemental. Basically, you should be mindful of the occurrences in your environment and feel every stimulus. But you cannot react to or from your own thoughts or opinions of them.
Examples of the former include transcendental meditation, Metta meditation, progressive relaxation, and mantra meditation. Examples of the latter include Zen meditation, Sahaja yoga, breath awareness meditation, and Qigong. There are also techniques that use a combination of the two, like guided meditation and Vipassana meditation techniques.
Principles in Meditation Techniques
As we already said before, all meditation techniques have some similarities in their definitions. This naturally translates to the actual practice of meditation techniques too. We will discuss these are more in detail.
- We said that meditation is a mental self-regulation technique and its aim is to bring your concentration or awareness under control. Meditation is, in simple terms, an exercise to establish discipline over your mind.
- Meditation improves mental and psychological health. Many people suffer from anxiety, stress, depression, attention deficit, mood disorders, and personality disorders. Besides regular treatment, many therapists also recommend meditation as a subsidiary treatment. Even if you do not have such symptoms, you can use meditation to help you relax, find inner peace, control negative thoughts and errant emotions, and find general mental well-being.
- Meditation has physical health benefits too. It improves blood circulation and cardiac function, reduces high blood pressure, reduces physical exhaustion, stress, and even pains and aches, relaxes tensed muscles, etc.
- Spiritual well-being is one of the primary goals of meditation. Meditation greatly gives you the strength to overcome tough circumstances. They help you tide over crises of faith and regain it. You will find true inner peace and feel oneness with the universe.
- An important criterion of meditation is being comfortable. This includes both place and time. You must meditate in a location you are comfortable with and at a time when you feel no urgency. Whether you are doing seated meditation or walking, the place must be one where there are no distractions or fears. The time you choose should be dedicated to meditation. Most people prefer quieter times like dawn or dusk for this purpose.
- You should have a generally positive towards the exercise. If you go in as a skeptic or cynic, chances are you will be hung up on those negative feelings. Consequently, you will not derive any of the benefits.
- You should not set a goal or time frame. This is especially important when teaching meditation techniques for beginners. Do not set a number of minutes or hours you will meditate for. Neither should you take someone else’s experience and make it your personal goal. Every person feels the effects of meditation differently and in their own time. Rather, focus on the moment, in the activity. Focus on freeing the noise in your mind. Focus on the object of your choice for concentration meditation. Try to achieve thoughtless mindfulness for awareness meditation.
- Even though you should not fix a time frame for meditation, it is still important to maintain a frequency. As with any exercise, regular practice is what will help you attain your goals. Not making any progress by missing your session one day will not make you stagnant. It will actually push you back several steps.
- No matter which meditation technique you use, relaxation and removal of distraction is of utmost importance. A tensed body and stressed mind will internally negate the effect of meditation while distractions will externally disrupt the flow.
Meditation Techniques for Anxiety
One of the many reasons why meditation has reached the status of a fad is because people are looking for a surefire way to destress. The world is at a critical point right now when there are so many reasons to cause anxiety and worry in people. Those with an anxiety disorder are at a double disadvantage. As a result, the following of meditation is increasing even more rapidly nowadays. It is best for such people to start with less rigorous techniques, otherwise, the effects might be the opposite of what they want.
While every technique has its merits, people with anxiety best benefit from the relaxation response technique. We know how any stressful situation fires up our sympathetic nervous systems and shoots adrenaline through the body. Too high an adrenaline level can cause anxiety and panic attacks. Relaxation response teaches you to react calmly instead of “fight or flight”. This ensures both your safety and a practical outcome.