Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Meditation: Easier Than It Might Appear

By Keira Adams

Some people wonder just how hard it is to meditate properly. The good news is that it's really not that difficult, and the benefits can be well worth the learning curve.

During meditation, your mind and body are in a state of conscious relaxation and focus. You will experience sharpened awareness of both your outer surroundings and your inner being.

There are numerous schools of thought regarding meditation. At their core, however, the principles are the same. The key to the practice of meditation is to calm your mind by eliminating negative thoughts through intense focus. Afterwards, your thoughts will be less scattered and your actions more purposeful.

Think of it as housekeeping of the mind. Your negative thoughts and emotions (picture your reaction when faced with construction delays, being put on hold endlessly, and your brother's upcoming trip to Europe) are what "pollute" your mind. Meditation "cleanses" the mind, allowing you to focus on the things that really matter.

Your meditation session will be most effective in a calm environment. Find a room in the house where you feel comfortable. If there are other people at home, choose a location where you can close the door and muffle the noise. Turn off the phone, the dishwasher, the washing machine, and don't let anyone vacuum.

When you become more comfortable with meditating, you'll probably want a few accessories to help you achieve your Zen state. Scented candles, a meditation pillow or chair, a few scented candles and a meditation tape will all enhance your experience.

You've almost certainly seen the characteristic images of meditation; people twisted up like a pretzel with flawless stance. You'll be reassured to know that this isn't at all compulsory. The plan is to be comfortably positioned so you can concentrate on your meditation, not your painful muscles. You can sit with your legs crossed or extended and with your back against the wall, you can stand up, lie down, and even walk around.

However, you need to keep your back straight if you're sitting or standing. No slouching allowed, or you might just fall asleep. To help you be more comfortable in your preferred pose, you should wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing so that you're not focusing on your circulation being cut off. You have more essential things to focus on.

Many people who meditate include a mantra as part of their practice. A mantra is a word or sound that is repeated over and over, and your focus should be on nothing but that sound. Choose a word or phrase that has significance to you, or just a sound that feels good. Although not a essential part of meditation, it does help you to concentrate on your breathing and can lead you to a higher state of awareness.

Focus is the most important aspect of meditation. Envision an object in your mind or look at an object in your vicinity, and contemplate it to the exclusion of anything else. The same applies to a particular thought as well as to your mantra.

Try this easy meditation exercise to get you started. Settle yourself in your quite location. Close your eyes, and imagine each part of your body in order, either from the bottom up or top down. Wordlessly name each part as you concentrate on it and give it your complete attention. You'll notice right away if a particular location is tense or painful. In your mind, imagine the tension leaving your body. You'll be astonished and pleased by the results. - 14682

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