When many people hear the word “meditate,” they think of a man in a loincloth with a serene look on his face sitting cross-legged on top of a mountain. Meditation, however, isn’t nearly as esoteric as people think. It doesn’t require years of study or mystical knowledge from on high; all it takes is practice.
Meditation is a spontaneous flow of consciousness when all the conditions are just right. It’s about listening inwardly with a quiet mind for the wisdom and guidance of a more expansive and unlimited mind.
All the arts of relaxation — breath control, contemplation, prayer, affirmation, repetition of a mantra, and visualization — are different, but they all direct you toward self-realization and a deep meditative state. Different systems of thought and traditions vary in their meditation techniques, but they all have the same goal: to reach the point of stillness, quiet, and communion with the essence of your being.
With meditation, you discover how to quiet your mind and increase your level of energy and enjoyment of life. You experience the natural joy of being in meditation, and you establish a greater confidence and a higher understanding. Meditation can deliver deep inner peace; increase your mental stamina; improve your memory; enlarge your multitasking abilities; and teach you to organize your internal awareness and concentration.
You can practice different forms of meditation:
Mantra meditation: You focus your attention on a repeated word, thought, or sound.
Metta or loving kindness meditation: You practice acts of generosity or loving kindness toward others.
Stair-step meditation (or modified progressive relaxation): You focus on different areas of your body with the aim of relaxing those areas one at a time.
Mindfulness: You observe whatever goes through your mind without judging or analyzing it.
(Some yoga practitioners don’t consider this a true form of meditation, but rather a practice or deeper step toward meditation.)
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