As humans, we are always looking to explore the outside world. This is obvious, given the fact that we are natural-born explorers and we just want to make sense of everything that we see and experience.
There is one dimension that we seldom pay attention to, the inner dimension that transcends all physical reality. Meditation is simply the exploration of this inner landscape that allows you to reach a higher level of consciousness.
Unfortunately, meditation has become a word that is used quite loosely in the modern world. In fact, it is used as a quick-fix solution to our many lifestyle problems, which is an utter waste of something so transformative.
In reality, it entails a lot more. Its implications run deeper than our imagination. It seems like most people barely even scratch the surface of what it means to meditate, which is not surprising given the amount of work it might take to fully explore its significance.
If you have ever indulged sincerely in this practice, you will be aware of its immense power.
Once you get the real taste of meditation, though, there is no going back, as countless people would happily tell you. If done correctly, it has the power to bring forth your infinite potential and make you the master of your own destiny.
Maybe it is because of the spreading of this awareness that more and more people are paying attention to this ancient practice.
Why Do People Meditate?
One of the greatest aspects of meditation is that it goes beyond religion and into the realms of spirituality. People of all religions, as well as atheists, can feel comfortable practicing it. If historical accounts are to be believed, meditation was an indispensable part of life in ancient times in the eastern part of the world.
Over the course of thousands of years, however, it slowly got replaced with other activities.
In the more modern world, be it in the east or the west, people have sought it to live a happier and healthier life. Their foray into meditation is a direct consequence of the demanding daily lives that we all live.
There is just too much noise and distraction in today’s world, and you inevitably need something to counteract all that and get your bearings. Although this is just the tip of the iceberg, as far as what meditation allows you to achieve goes, it is at least a start.
Then there are those who want to enjoy the many, many benefits of meditation. This is no longer a topic of debate. Countless studies have repeatedly shown that meditating regularly has immense mental and physical benefits.
Some people really want to be on top of their game, and so they make it a priority to include meditation in their daily routine. Mostly you would see people such as entrepreneurs, athletes, and CEOs in this category.
What Are The Different Types of Meditation?
Just as a power-tool can be utilized for a variety of purposes and in a variety of situations, meditation is also a tool that can be used to achieve different things.
Unbeknownst to most people, there are different types of meditation that allow you to explore a different dimension of being. It is up to you to decide which suits you and your situation the best.
1. Mindfulness Meditation
This is perhaps the most popular form of meditation, especially in the west. Most people might be doing it already without even realizing it.
As the name suggests, mindfulness meditation is done to enhance your mindfulness, which means you perfect the ability to bring your awareness to the present moment and let your thoughts pass through your mind without you judging them on any basis.
This can be especially beneficial for those who find themselves dwelling too much on the past or the future. Both these places can be sources of stress and anxiety, but when you learn to bring your awareness to the present moment at all times, you are much happier and relaxed.
You appreciate the beauty of life and any small task you are doing. This does wonders for your work as well.
2. Mantra Meditation
Mantra is basically a word, phrase, or sentence that is repeated over and over again by placing an intense focus on it. There are several words that have been mentioned in religious scriptures that have a special significance.
These are supposed to evoke special vibrations throughout your mind and body that help you deepen your connection with your inner being.
The most common mantra that you may have heard of is “Om”. Hindus and Buddhists can often be seen repeating it for a set number of times (usually 108 times).
This meditation can be easier to do as chanting a mantra helps you focus better. Those who practice mantra meditation experience deeper levels of awareness and become more alert and in tune with their surroundings.
3. Spiritual Meditation
Spiritual meditation has some elements of religion attached to it, but it can be adapted by people of any faith. Spiritual meditation is done to deepen your connection with your god, the divine energy, the universe, or whatever else you want to call a higher power that is omnipresent and omniscient.
It is a powerful form of meditation, and practitioners have to go deep within themselves to even get a hint of that higher power.
Once they do, though, they get a glimpse of something that can probably never be explained by logic. This is the metaphysical part of reality that science has yet to touch upon properly.
Regardless, if you can experientially know it, it is true for you!
4. Focused Meditation
This is also a very common type of meditation, and if you have ever taken a meditation class, you must have definitely done it.
This is also called calming meditation and usually involves focusing your attention on an aspect of your body, the breath being the most common and popular one. Many people also count beads or focus their attention on some bodily sensation.
It can be difficult for beginners to do as the mind likes to wander. That is why practitioners are advised to bring their awareness back to the object of their focus whenever they realize that they’ve wandered off.
Focused meditation makes you much calmer and relieves you of stress and anxiety. It is this peaceful state of mind that people want to achieve in a highly stressful world of today.
5. Shoonya Meditation (Zero Meditation)
This meditation differs from the rest. Shoonya is a Sanskrit word, which means zero. As the name suggests, it helps you realize that you are neither your body nor your mind.
The real you is something else. It is metaphysical in nature. Most people would call it the soul, but “life energy” is a better term to describe it. It is basically the software that keeps you alive.
Shoonya meditation is done to distance your true self (your life energy) from the body and the mind. Doing so gives you a third-person perspective on your own body and mind, and you become totally non-judgemental about your thoughts and emotions and can just observe them with no prejudice.
6. Thoughtlessness meditation
This is perhaps the first type of meditation that people usually hear about. In fact, not too long ago, this was the only meditation that used to be mentioned in tv shows and movies.
As the name suggests, it is all about being able to just sit down having no thoughts or emotions at that moment. It is a state of complete and utter relaxation.
It is quite difficult to get started with this type of meditation. The mind likes to think and no matter how hard you try, a thought eventually finds its way into your head. But as you practice thoughtlessness regularly, it becomes easier to just sit and do nothing.
At the end of the session, you feel so relaxed and so Zen that it almost feels like you are a Zen master. It has great benefits for your mental and emotional health.
7. Chakra Meditation
There are seven energy centers in our bodies, spanning from the root of your spine all the way to your crown. They basically govern all your life functions. Each of the seven chakras is associated with a specific dimension of being.
They each correspond to specific emotions, psychological states, organs, and influence your daily actions. Therefore, keeping them open, fluid, and functioning just the way they should, is very important.
This is exactly what chakra meditation helps you do. It uses different techniques to help you align your chakras and activate each one so you can explore a different dimension of existence.
It lets you travel deeper within yourself while at the same time, keeping all the physiological systems of the body functioning optimally. It not only creates a balance within your body but your whole life as well.
What Are The Benefits of Meditation?
Meditation has far-reaching benefits for your health. It encompasses basically all aspects of your life. Not only does it do wonders for your physical and mental health, which are also the more understood benefits, it also keeps you feeling emotionally well.
All this leads to a happy and pleasant life, which is all that anybody really wants in their lives. The following goes into more detail about the benefits of meditation:
1. Reduces Stress & Anxiety
This is perhaps the most well-known benefit of meditation. In today’s world, stress and anxiety have become a part of daily routine owing to the fast-paced modern lives. They can make you quite ill, weakening you from the inside out, and before you even realize it; it is already too late.
They can even give rise to other diseases and disorders like diabetes, increased blood pressure, heart disease, and so on. Meditating regularly helps you stay calm and take on the challenges in life mindfully, dramatically reducing your chances of developing such illnesses.
2. Better Sleep
Sleep deprivation and disorders are a rising problem. A huge number of people on the planet suffer from some form of sleep disorder. This may get in the way of leading a normal life and should be addressed, as it may give rise to other health problems.
Meditation does for your sleep what no sleeping pills can. Many studies have shown that people who meditate consistently fall asleep much faster and stay asleep for longer, compared to those who don’t meditate. Meditation should definitely become a part of your daily life.
3. Helps Fight Addiction
It is easy to give in to your many desires, up to a point where something or other ends up becoming an addiction.
While smoking, drugs, and alcohol are some of the more serious addictions, there can be others that may not seem so serious on the surface but can lead to further problems. Things like munching on too many snacks or binge-watching tv shows, etc.
Meditating develops a mental discipline in you that is necessary to say no to any addictions whatsoever. In fact, it goes beyond that and makes you take action to clean up your whole life.
4. Provides Emotional Stability
Our emotions rule our lives. If you are in a great emotional state, you make better decisions and vice versa. In a world where there are endless things that try to bring you down, it is important to enhance your emotional stability.
Only then will you be able to conquer life’s many challenges.
Meditation is tailor-made to do exactly that. It helps reduce many inflammatory chemicals in the body. This is important, as these chemicals can eventually lead to depression.
Meditation provides you with a much better view of life, and you begin to see things in perspective. It is this that helps you become emotionally stable.
5. Provides Clarity of Thought
To pursue your goals and dreams, you need to be absolutely clear in your head. Otherwise, you will find yourself a bit all over the place and not reaching anywhere definite.
Having clarity of thought gives you a better perspective. You know what you want and how to get it. As a result, you are better equipped to pursue your dreams.
Meditating helps you organize your thoughts. You realize which thoughts contribute to success, and which ones are detrimental. Once that happens, you let go of all the negative ones that were holding you back and the result is better clarity!
6. Enhances Self-Awareness
Meditation is all about venturing deeper into yourself. It provides methods to know yourself in a non-judgmental way. When you do this regularly, you become more aware of who you really are.
You realize what you can do to be the best version of yourself and what are the things that need to be lessened. All of which adds up to make you a much better human being.
How Do You Meditate?
The way you meditate depends on the type of meditation you are doing. Although most ways are similar, there can be some specifics to take care of in certain cases.
For instance, if you are doing mantra meditation, you must also have a mantra that you can repeat under your breath. But the following are the common ways that can get you started regardless of the type of meditation:
- Get comfortable and choose a secluded space where you won’t be disturbed. This may include slipping into more comfortable clothing, but that totally depends on you. It is advisable to have a timer nearby.
- Next, you can either sit down or lay down on your bed. Sitting down on a cushion or a mat on the floor should be the preferred option, as it helps you meditate better.
- After you are comfortable, close your eyes and make sure that your spine is erect. You can keep your hands on your knees or fold them in your lap.
- To start off, focus on your breathing. Notice how you inhale and how you exhale. This will keep your thoughts from interfering with your practice. If your attention wanders off, simply bring it back to your breath.
- What you do next depends on the kind of meditation you are doing. If you are practicing thoughtlessness, try to just sit there and think and feel nothing. If you are doing mantra meditation, start reciting your mantra. If you are doing spiritual meditation, you should feel that life force inside you and go deeper into it. If you are doing chakra meditation, start focusing on your energy centers.
- Remember to not be too hard on yourself. Whatever your reason is for doing a particular meditation, the results will only begin to show up after a certain amount of time. Keep at it until you notice changes.
When Is The Best Time To Meditate?
Although there aren’t any hard and fast rules about the timing, there are certain periods during the day that are more conducive.
As with anything else, you have to figure out what works best for you. Usually, early mornings and late nights are the most appropriate to have a meditation session.
Early mornings are perhaps the more common choice as people want to start off their day as best as they possibly can, and what better way to do that than by meditating.
A day that begins with clarity of thought and stability of emotions can be much more fulfilling and productive, as regular practitioners are well aware of.
Many people also choose to meditate at night, just before going to bed. After a whole day of hard work, it can be a great way to organize your thoughts and seek insights that may help you the next day.
It also helps you sleep better as you enter a much more relaxed state during and after meditation. Doing so helps you get a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed.
How Often Should You Meditate?
No matter what you do in life, it is only through repetition and consistency do you slowly hone your skills and abilities. The same goes for meditation. This is also where most people make the ultimate mistake. It is easy to get motivated for a while and start meditating, but it can be tough to keep going.
Humans suffer from needing instant gratification in today’s world, and they also seek instant benefits from meditation. This, of course, doesn’t happen. And they inevitably stop doing it. This is a tragedy because these people could have transformed their lives and just gave up on it.
To benefit the most, you should meditate daily. In fact, some people meditate twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. It is okay if there are a few days in between where you don’t meditate at all, but overall you absolutely need to ensure consistency to reap the full and continued benefits.
Which Is Better? Guided vs Unguided Meditation
Guided meditation is a method of meditation where you are guided through all the steps involved by someone else (usually an expert). This could be in person or through a video or audio clip.
Most people go for guided meditation sessions, as it’s difficult to understand (especially if meditating is new to you) exactly what you are supposed to do and how you are supposed to do it. This helps you remain assured that you are doing it correctly.
Unguided meditation, as the name suggests, is when you meditate on your own. This can be done in complete silence or by listening to specifically designed meditation music.
This usually involves you sitting in isolation and going through your practices. This can be understood as solo traveling. Except, in this case, you are exploring your inner self rather than exploring the world alone.
Each method of meditation has its own benefits. And it is up to you to decide which one works best for you. Logically, though, it makes sense to first try to understand the practices involved by going with guided meditation techniques.
If you want, you could take meditation classes and pick your master’s brain for more information and insights.
When you are confident that you can do things on your own, you can definitely start with unguided meditation. This is better, as meditation needs to be a solo journey. Only you hold the keys to the inner world, and only you can walk that path.
How Long Does Meditation Take To Work?
As with everything else, there is no definite answer to this question. It all depends on you and your unique situation. Different people may have different reasons for deciding to meditate.
Some may want to do it for health benefits, while some may want to understand their true self. No matter what your reason is, maintain consistency without worrying about how long it will take.
It may take a few days to see changes or even a few weeks or months. It can be hard to keep doing something when you don’t see results, but you have to find ways to push through.
There are countless people who swear by the life-changing effects of meditation, and their opinions should have at least some importance. If it can work for them, why not you? Also, it is an ancient practice and it wouldn’t have lasted for so long if it didn’t actually work.
There are many ways to improve your life, and you owe it to yourself to do it. You need to understand that no one else will do it for you. They couldn’t even if they tried.
Even family and friends who care for you can only motivate you to be better, but the actions have to be taken by you. As they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
Meditation is one of the best ways you can use to completely transform your life. There are so many resources that you can find online and in the real world that you can go through to make it a habit. When you consider all the benefits of doing so, it is certainly something that is worth trying.
All we really want is a happy, healthy life. We want our relationships to flourish; we want to achieve our own ideas of success; we want to do some good in the world and leave behind a legacy that matters.
Practicing meditation can help us achieve all these things and lead us to a truly fulfilled life.