What is meditation
Meditation is the understanding of self. It is the inner journey to integrate and reintegrate of self. To keep the mind focus for a long time on a thing is called concentration. Through concentration the mind calms down. Patanjali the sage said that contemplation is to focus on a object uninterruptedly. Through contemplation the concentrated mind begins to flow around one single idea or thing and the mind is freed from any outward obstacles. In simple word w e can define meditation as an emptiness of thought. Meditation is a way of life not a part of life. It is about being aware of your conduct. How you do a particular work, how long you do it and what are the feelings you are getting by doing it.
Generally, a symbol, image or picture is chosen for the purpose of concentration. You can concentrate in your breath, a picture, flower, dot in your mind. Whatever object you may chose and all will have same result to concentrate and focus on a given object. through this you can be able to master your mind, get rid of tensions, stress and strains. as we live in a very stressful world where there is no guarantee of being successful in everything we do. We fail in many occasions, our personal life is disturbed, your life may be emotionally distressed. To manage and get rid of these conditions, medical treatments may not be fruitful as they are connected in our mind and soul. Therefore, we need a natural way to cure these ailments and meditation is the best way to do so.
Stages of Meditation: Patanjali emphasised on concentration on more and more subtle objects. There are four stages of meditation on the subtle essences of things.
- In the first stage, the mind transcends the consciousness of matter and form and gets concentrated on the idea of infinite space.
- In the second stage, your mind should transcend the concept of infinite space and concentrate on the concept of infinite awareness.
- In the third stage the mind concentrate on the infinite emptiness and aware of emptiness alone.
- In the fourth and final stage the lower stages are transcended and mind rise to a state where there is no knowing and non-knowing.
Meditation and brain:
Meditation and the brain have a direct connection. Through meditation you can improve your capacity of brain to perform better. Sarah Lazar and her team conducted research t Harvard University and found that meditation changes the structure of the brain. They found that meditation increases the thickness of the hippocampus, the part of brain responsible for memory and learning. And they also found that the brain cells reduced in amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for regulating anxiety stress and fear.
In an another study conducted by Dr. Alderman and his team of researchers at Rutgers University, N.J., results of MRI scans of the brains of people who engaged in meditation for about eight weeks showed increased amount of gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for controlling attention and focus. The increased amount of gray matters in the prefrontal cortex is responsible for reduced rumination over unpleasant past events which kept the participants depressed.
Benefits of meditation:
- peace of mind and happiness
- Beats depression, stress and anxiety
- Memory power increases
- Cure high blood pressure
- Improves overall health
- Inculcate self discipline
1) Peace of mind and happiness: A couple of minutes of meditation everyday helps us to attain inner peace, to stay positive, maintaining high energy level. You can feel happiness from inside and it will refresh your whole body and mind. You can enjoy the beauty of nature, in small things you will find joy like chirping of birds, raindrops sound, color of the sky, beauty of the nature etc.
2) Beats depression, stress and anxiety: Mindful meditation beats your depression, stress and anxiety which are formed because of the works done at the past and the worries of the future. It helps you to clear thoughts about all such worries, fear, regrets and helps to concentrate at the present time and live life
3) Memory power increases: It is very natural for us to lose our memory power with the age. The researchers at Harvard University found that the mindful meditation helps us to retain and intact increase our cognitive abilities. Because of the proliferation of the gray matter in certain vital parts of your brain due to the meditation done regularly.
4) Cure high blood pressure: In the journal alternative and complementary medicine published researched material about the effect of meditation on high blood pressure. They found that meditating regularly helps you relax by increasing the nitric oxide content in your blood. Nitric oxide is responsible for the opening of the blood vessels, and consequently, a drop in blood pressure.
5) Improves overall health: Harvard University researcher Herbert Benson said that Meditation and relaxation are both closely related and relaxation is the goal of the meditation exercise.
Based on his studies and his results, it can be said that Meditation leads to a better overall health of a person. Some of the health benefits of Meditation are…
- Reduced stress level
- Deeper relaxation
- Enhance self esteem and self acceptance
- Emotional stabilization
- Develops mood and intelligence
- Improves blood circulation
- Reduced anxiety
- Develops concentration power
- Reduced perspiration
- Lowers blood cortisol
- Increased creativity
- Controls anger
- Problem solving ability increases
- Immune system improves
- Cures Asthma and inflammatory disorders etc.
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These benefits of the meditation are possible because it affects the part of the brain which is responsible for the regulation of psychological conditions such as mood, anxiety, stress, depression etc.
How to do Meditation:
Now this is the most important part as without doing the actual thing, i.e. Meditating our all the learning will be in vain. So, let us discuss about the ways and conditions of Meditation.
Find a conducive environment: You can Meditate in any place you like or get. But it is very good to find an open space. Be it the public garden, public playground, open field or even your backyard will do. Because an open place provides us serene beauty, calmness and fresh air. All these things adds to our brain to attain mindfulness and peace. And the need for quietness and privacy during meditation is linked to the fact that you are likely to experience less interruption and best results.
Mind your Breath: Meditation is the technique and practice of breathing. As breath is our lifeline without which we would not live for more than couple of minutes is the cause to most of our problems. Because effective breathing is the key to run your whole body and mind. Therefore while Meditating you have to focus to your breath and make sure you breath in and out slowly and deeply. Firstly, slowly breath in through your nose without trying to force your breath, and then slowly breath out through your mouth without forcing. At first your breath will come in shallow gasps and will not last longer, but by practicing regularly you would be able to last longer. Because your airways will get fuller.
Practice Mindfulness: As your breath becomes fuller and deeper you will begin to feel that your muscles and nervous system becomes calmer. You have to concentrate on your stomach as the air inhale from your nose and exhales through mouth. Many a time you would find yourself diverting from your breath. this is very normal as we can not keep our focus on a thing for more than few seconds. This is actually good if you can notice that you are thinking about other things because that means you are attentive and aware. Gradually you would be able to develop your focus and concentration power by continue Meditating.
Time of Meditation: You can chose any time of the day to Meditate, even evening and night session are also can be done. There is no hard and fast rule and regulation. But to get more result and effect chose the morning time as morning hour is the best for fresh air and calmness. At the beginning you have to Meditate only for five minutes. And as the time passes by you can be able to increase the time duration. Because at the beginning you may find it difficult to concentrate and quit Meditation.
End your Session: End your each Meditation session very carefully. You should not just stand straight up from Meditation and walk towards your daily chores. It is important that you remain mindful and conscious about your state of awareness all the time even after completing Meditation. After you finish your breathing exercise, open your eyes slowly and gaze for the horizon with mindfulness for some time. Then slowly get up from your sitting position and engage in some light stretching and make sure to transfer your state awareness at the act of stretching. Then you can slowly walk back to your daily activities and transfer thoughtful awareness to each and everything.
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Make Meditation a daily habit. Meditate continuously for one month to make it a habit. And you are bound to get all the unlimited benefits from Meditation, take my note. Build the “NO MATTER WHAT ATTITUDE” and continue your venture. And let me know if you have been practicing Meditation and for how many years. Have you been able to make Meditation a habit? And feel free to query and suggest.