When you first hear the word meditation, the first thing that may pop into mind is "eastern" and you may think, it's not for me because I'm not eastern. Or the word "ancient" might pop into your head and you think, "It's not relevant to me". Or finally you might think that it's only for advanced people because it's hard and that it's not for the average, normal person. None of these things are true. It doesn't matter if you're from the west, it doesn't matter that it's old (in fact that should give it a good rep because it speaks volumes about it's credibility, otherwise it wouldn't have stuck around for so long!), and it doesn't matter if you consider yourself average. Meditation is for everyone.
What is Meditation?
What is meditation? Meditation is a practice that trains the attention and awareness, stills the mind, and creates a calm emotional state. Attention is controlled and awareness is heightened during meditation.
Everything is energy. You are energy. The world around you is energy. We are interacting with energy every moment on a day-to-day basis. Our mind connects our body to the external field of energy. When our mind is in chaos, our world is in chaos. Meditation is the way to clear and calm your mind.
Now before we get into the types of meditation, it's important to understand why you would want to get into this. Why meditate? Isn't it just hard work? Is it really worth it? Here are the answers.
- controls anxiety
- improves concentration
- reduces stress level
- relaxes muscles
- improves focus
- improves circulation
- reduces blood pressure
- shrinks the area of the brain that produces negative emotions
- balances emotions
- enhances self-awareness
- lengthens attention-span
- increases compassion
- improves sleep
- shrinks the amygdala or center of the brain that controls emotions such as fear, sadness, or anger.
How to Meditate:
This is a simple basic recipe for beginners:
1.) In order to meditate, simply find a comfortable place to sit or lay down.
2.) Close your eyes, and bring your attention to your breath. Your goal is to focus all your attention and awareness onto your breath.
3.) Observe your inhalation and exhalation. Observe your breath moving into your stomach, your thoracic area, and your chest.
4.) If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to the breath.
Once you feel comfortable with this process, you can add these advanced techniques to your meditation, however I recommend simply sticking with the basic recipe for awhile to notice how often your mind wonders so you can practice bringing it back.
This builds resiliency and will strengthen your attention span and ability to focus and concentrate.
Advanced technique #1: Notice if your breath makes it into each of the three areas, your stomach, your thoracic area, and your chest. If not, consciously breathe into each of those areas, starting with the stomach, filling it up, letting it fill the thoracic area, and then finally the chest. Upon the exhale, let go gradually. Repeat.
Advanced technique #2: Notice if you feel any "gaps" or "pockets" in these three areas that are not being breathed into. These areas are where you have stuck energy and emotion. They could be where you hold negative beliefs or threads of worry and grief, or even anger. Simply place your fingers on the area and focus on pushing back by breathing into that area. Do this a few times with a strong exhalation, and continue with the normal breathing. Notice if the area gets breathed into. If not, repeat the process and keep and eye on the area during future meditations.
Types of Meditation:
1.) Breath observation
- This is the basic recipe listed above.
2.) Mindfulness meditation
- This form of meditation is about being in the present moment while focusing on something specific. You could be walking, eating or simply observing the world around you. It originates from Buddhist tradition and helps you to accept all that arises without judgement. The most common form of mindfulness meditation is simply sitting in stillness. When you find yourself in negative thought patterns or getting frustrated, take a moment to stop and breath. Let go and simply notice what's going on. Observe what's happening and practice mindfulness from there.
3.) Transcendental Meditation
- Transcendental meditation is a type of mantra meditation and helps you to transcend your surface level of awareness. It goes much deeper than most forms of meditation and can help you puncture your subconscious mind. It was developed from the ancient Vedic tradition of India. You simply still quiety with your eyes closed and repeat a mantra. The mantra comes from the Vedic tration and is used to focus your concentration. It is practiced for several months twice a day. Transcendental meditation requires a certified teacher.and is characterized by achieving an absence of mental boundaries.
4.) Zen Meditation
- This mediation calls for you to be mindful in various areas depending on what you choose to be the focus for your meditation. The most common one is to watch your thoughts. Simply observe the thoughts in your mind in a non-judgemental way. It is much like mindfulness meditation in focusing on the presence of the mind, except it is more of a general awareness.
5.) Concentration Meditation
- Concentration meditation is about focusing on a single point. It could be repeating a mantra, or a single word, or meditating on the visual of a candle flame, or meditating on a sound, counting malas, or following the breath in the advanced techniques listed in the basic how-to recipe.
6.) Loving-Kindness Meditation
- Loving-kindness meditation involves practicing benevolence, good will, friendship, and active caring of others. It comes from the Buddhist tradition and is one of the four sublime states. Its is a practicing of the softening of the mind and heart. You don't expect anything of others and practice it without anyone "deserving" it. Begin with loving yourself, because without loving yourself, it is difficult and near-impossible to really truly love others. There are several stages in the loving-kindness meditation, where you begin by focusing on your heart center, and breathe in and out from that area. Notice any numbness, self-hatred, self-judgment or blocks of this kind. The idea is to feel good. I recommend reviewing the specifics of this powerful meditation here.
7.) Moving Meditation
- A moving meditation is quite simple and is just like mindfulness meditation except you are meditating strictly on your movements. You could be walking, running, playing a sport, or doing yoga. Anything that requires you to move you could be meditating on your muscles contracting and expanding, watching the movements of your body, listening to your heartbeat, or even noticing the space that you are moving through. It is quite simple, yet powerful as it really brings you into the present moment.
8.) Chakra Meditation
- Chakra meditation means you are meditating on the chakras, or energy centers of the body. You can focus on clearing them by visualizing the respected colors of each chakra until you don't see any debris such as dark clouds or attachments. You can use white light to bust through debris. Red is for the root chakra located at the base of your spine. Orange is for the sacral chakra located a few inches below the belly button. Yellow is for the Solor Plexus chakra located a few inches below your sternum. Green is for the heart chakra located at the center of your chest. Blue is for the throat chakra located in your throat. Indigo is for the third eye chakra located between your eyebrows and just above on your forehead. Purple is for the crown chakra located at the top of your head. I have created a guided chakra healing meditation that you can download for free here.
9.) Pranic Breathing Meditation
- Pranic breathing strengthens your energy field and can clear it of any debris as well. There are two main forms: the 7:1 breath and the 6:3 count breath. Gently place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. The 7:1 breath count means you inhale through your nose for 7 counts, hold for 1 count, and then exhale through your mouth for 7 counts, and hold for one count. This is one cycle of pranic breathing. Repeat. You can do this for 5-10 minutes, or during your regular life routines. The 6:3 breath count means you inhale for 6 counts, hold for 3, and then exhale for 6 counts and hold for 3. This is one cycle of pranic breathing also. Repeat. You can choose either ratio of breathing and holding depending on what feels right to you.
10.) Mer-Ka-Ba Meditation
- This type of meditation is an 18-breath meditation focused on activating the mer-ka-ba or light body. Drunvalo Melchizadek is famous for reawakening the collective mind to this meditation. You can learn it in this free YouTube video here.
How Often Should You Meditate?
When beginning, it is recommended to meditate for 5-10 minutes per day. That is a simple amount that anyone can squeeze into their daily habit. Once you feel you've nailed 5-10 minutes, it is recommended that you increase it to 20 minutes, yet it's important to remember that anything you can do is good.
*Twenty minutes of meditation is proven to change your brain chemistry by shrinking the amygdala (the part of the brain that controls emotions such as anger, fear and sadness).
How Long Does It Take to Work?
You will feel the benefits of mediation immediately. Over the coming days, you might notice that you have more space between your thoughts, that they are fewer and more far between. Within a couple weeks, you will notice that you are able to concentrate better, and benefit in the ways listed above. Within months, you will be a different person.
Meditation changed my life forever. I started with a ten-minute chakra meditation, just like the one I created here., and I never looked back. I can't recommend it enough. Check out my Chakra Healing & Balancing Meditation.