Meditation is not just one thing; it comprises of so many levels and types. It is like training to the mind as is a sport to the body. As a practice, for a beginner, it might be difficult to sit for hours and think nothing.
But concentration is the most common approach to meditating in the beginning. It simply means to observe the breath rather than analyzing it. In Buddhism, meditation is like what we call as sports in the US. Meditation is of different kinds and requires different mental abilities. Let us discuss the few types.
· Concentration meditation
It is the most basic approach to meditation. Random thoughts would come, but you will try to let them go. It involves how to concentrate at one point. In this approach, we observe the breath. One can also repeat a single word or phrase. Staring continuously at a flame of a candle can be another way to concentrate and meditate. If you want to unite with almighty then, you can also bead on the mala. Concentrating at one point may be difficult in the beginning, so you may end up concentrating for only a few minutes. Your mind would tend to deviate, but you learn to refocus your mind at one object again.
· Mindfulness meditation
Our mind is the most difficult thing to control. It is natural that wandering thoughts will come to mind. The mindfulness meditation helps us in observing such random thoughts rather than actually involving ourselves in these thoughts. It just helps us to get aware of those random thoughts. It helps to observe the pattern of thoughts and feelings. With regular practice, you will eventually learn to distinguish between good and bad experiences. Gradually, inner balance develops. Most of the times, a combination of the meditations, concentration, and mindfulness is used. The primary goal of the meditation is stillness. The degree of stillness may vary.
· Other meditation techniques:
Apart from meditating in a still position, there are meditating techniques while moving as well. Some of the moving meditating techniques are tai chi, qigong, and walking meditation. A daily meditation practice can prove very much advantageous. Its biggest advantage is keeping negative thoughts at bay. Buddhist monks especially concentrate on compassion.
Advantages of Meditation
A relaxed mind is one of the obvious results of meditation. According to research conducted, relaxation response is a consequence of meditation which suppresses the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Since then, many researchers have conducted further research on relaxation response and have documented the following benefits.
· Reduced blood pressure
· Increased blood circulation
· Lower perspiration
· Low heart beat Reduced anxiety
· Lower blood cortisol levels
· More energetic feeling
· No stress or tension
· Relaxed mind and soul
Researchers have also explored the long-term benefits apart from short term benefits. There are innumerable positive effects on brain and immune system. Although, the primary purpose of meditation is not to achieve any advantage or benefit. The main purpose of meditation is to live in the present without any regret about the past or any worry of future. As according to an Eastern philosopher,” the goal of meditation is no goal.”
Sometimes we feel helpless in controlling certain situations. We may not find things in our control. This is what meditation teaches us. It helps us to liberate the mind from possessing control over things and association from things. Emotions and external circumstances are sometimes difficult to control. The meditation processes help in providing calmness to the mind and serenity to thought processes.
Simple meditation steps for beginners:
· Find calm or a peaceful place.
· Sit or lie down in a comfortable chair or on a mat.
· The foremost step is to close the eyes.
· Let yourself loose. Do not bother about hands or eyes.
· Focus attention on the breath.