Meditation simply means to be fully present with whatever is arising in the moment.
One of the most common and traditional methods of meditation involves focussing our attention on our breathing. However, many may find this method of meditation can be difficult and even frustrating.
Fortunately, there are easy ways to induce a calm and meditative state of mind. This article talks about four such ways. (If you are wondering as to what benefit can meditation have on you kindly read this article first.)
Meditating to music
Meditation doesn’t need to be a battle with your mind.
You can make it fun by using the help of some music. Using music helps to slow down the chatter of our mind and makes it easier for us to meditate.
The key here is to place your complete attention on the music.
If you use a song that you are familiar with, you may very well notice sounds you would have never heard in the song before. While using music with a slow tempo and without vocals can be more suitable for meditation, put on whatever track you feel comfortable with.
If you are feeling confused as to what track to put on, there are plenty of tracks on Youtube, like this that is suitable for meditation. Using nature sounds like this also makes it easier to enter a calm state of mind for meditation.
Whenever you catch yourself lost in thought, bring your attention back to the music. Let go of the need to mentally analyse the music. Instead, simply notice the sounds. All that is required here is to listen.
The deeper you go into meditation; you may find it interesting to note that your sense of time gets distorted. If you use songs you are familiar with; they may start to appear longer or shorter in duration. This is not unusual and often happens as the chatter of the mind reduces.
While doing this form of meditation it’s preferable to use earphones or headphones.
Candle flame meditation
This form of meditation simply involves staring into a candle flame. Focussing our eyes on a fixed point makes it easier to calm our mind.
Simply watch the candle flame and give it your complete and undivided attention. As and when you find your mind wandering, bring your attention back onto the flame.
As in the case with meditating to music, there is no need for mentally analysing the flickering flame, just watching and observing it will do.
It’s suitable to do this practice in a dark or a dimly room as it makes it easier to concentrate our gaze on the flame. It also helps to have the candle placed at eye level so that we don’t have to strain ourselves to look up or down.
With guided meditations, all you need to do is to relax, listen and follow instructions provided by a teacher or a pre-recorded voice. They gently guide the listener into a meditative state by giving step- by- step instructions.
Free smartphone applications like Headspace and Calm provide users with free guided mediations. Lots of guided meditations of varying durations such as this can be also found on YouTube as well.
A Mantra is a word or a phrase that is repeated, and reciting mantras are helpful to calm down the chatter of the mind.
This form of meditation involves simply reciting a mantra, out loud or mentally. With mantra meditation keep your focus on the sound of the mantra irrespective of how you choose to do it.
Each time you find your mind has wandered bring your attention back to the sound of the mantra.
While there are innumerable words or mantras that can be chanted, 'Om' is one of the mantras most commonly used while meditating.
Before you begin each meditation session, here are a few pointers to make your meditations easier as well more effective.
Sit comfortably in a place where you won’t be disturbed. Whether you sit on a chair or sit on the ground with your legs crossed is immaterial. Make it a point, however, to keep your back straight as this can help you to be more alert.
Doing a short breathing exercise can help to calm and relax ourselves before we sit for meditation. Here’s a simple exercise you can use. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 7 and exhale for 8 counts. Repeat this for 10 times or more according to your preference.
Thoughts will naturally arise and consume our attention during meditation. With meditation, we aim to let go of the need to judge or engage in the thoughts which arise and bring our attention to the object of focus (sound, breath, mantra, candle flame). The more we practice this, the easier it gets.
One of the main reasons why we tend to find meditation difficult is because we enter it with a goal oriented mindset expecting our minds to calm down within no time. It’s only the failure to meet the expectations we have in our head that can make meditation frustrating. Instead, be willing to be extra patient and easy on yourself and let go of all expectations. This will not only make it a whole lot easier but also make it more effective as well.
Try out one of these techniques today. It is not required to meditate for half an hour or more to gain the benefits of this practice. Just set aside 5 minutes of your time each day for meditation and slowly build from there.
While it might be hard to begin, who knows, you just might get hooked. But of course, you will never know unless you try.
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