One of the practices I’m exploring this month is the practice of meditation. Notice I call it a practice (similar to yoga). That’s because meditation is one of those things that you just don’t “get” right away. Plus, no matter how experienced you are, there is always more to explore – more to practice.
Meditation is something I’ve dabbled with in the past, but never consistently. In the past year, I’ve had a number of small “nudges” (books I’ve read, people I’ve spoken to, etc.) that have convinced me it’s something I need to at least try for a sustained period of time. With the general craziness of the holiday season upon us, it feels like a good time to introduce a calm influence to my life.
One of the most often asked questions is what IS meditation? Basically, meditation is any technique that allows you to stop, rest and focus on one thing – be it your breath, a sound, an image, etc. There are many noted benefits of a consistent meditation practice (which is considered even a few minutes daily) such as:
- better mood
- increased health
- lower heart rate and breathing
- assists with alleviating pain and anxiety
- lower blood pressure
I think the most confusing aspect for me is the variety of types of meditation. I plan on test driving several of them and I’ll share my thoughts at the end of the month. Here are the versions I’ve researched along with a link to more info for each one:
Metta Bhavana – breath deeply and recite mantras – http://www.mettainstitute.org
Transendental – focus on teacher assisted mantra – http://www.tm.org
Mindfulness – awareness of body, thoughts and surroundings – http://www.mindful.org
Zen – sitting, just BE – http://www.upaya.org
Don’t want to pick a type or not sure where to begin? Simply sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and concentrate on a word, your pulse or your breath. Try to sit still like this for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat daily.
What are your experiences with meditation? Do you practice? If so, any specific type? What have you discovered? Please share in the comments – we can all learn best from each other!