Meditation- how to start practicing?
Meditation is a technique that has been known to humans for a very long time, originally associated with areas of India and the Far Eastern cultural circle in general. It is used as a spiritual practice in yoga, as well as in Buddhism among followers of Taoism, Confucianism, or Hinduism.
Ever since the beneficial effects of meditation on the body were discovered, especially in terms of offsetting the effects of chronic fatigue and stress, the technique has been making a dizzying career in Western countries.
What is meditation really? In the simplest terms, the technique can be described as a quiet contemplation of our own presence in the world, of simply being. This can be accompanied by a state of deep relaxation, combined with a conscious slowing down of some of our body functions, such as heart rate and breathing. Admittedly, this is a slightly more advanced stage of meditation, but everything can be reached slowly, in small steps. Those who practice meditation for a long time can reach the desired state even while doing household chores. Less advanced ones need some time and a secluded place to begin their ritual.
A good introduction to meditation can be the use of some kind of relaxation technique to get rid of tension and at the same time relax and calm the body. A technique associated with hypnosis, formally known as autogenic training, works well. It involves focusing all of your weight on a particular spot on your body and repeating in your mind (or perhaps more easily, listening to a speaking voice): “Your hand is getting heavy, very heavy, it’s getting heavier and heavier, you can’t get it off the ground. Your hand is completely relaxed…”
Just focus on the three steps quoted above:
1) we narrow our attention to the body part in question,
2) we contemplate the meaning of the thought “the hand becomes heavy” – we sink our mind into this suggested content,
3) finally, we calmly concentrate on the arising sensation – we observe the body part in question.
In this way, we relax the whole body one by one, putting ourselves in a state of pleasant relaxation. At the same time, we try to maintain awareness and alertness, so that instead of the next stage we do not flow into the arms of Morpheus… Otherwise, the adventure of meditation could end in a nap. The effect, it’s true, is comforting for the whole body, but that’s not the effect we wanted after all.
Fully relaxed and aware, we can proceed to the next stage before starting the meditation itself. This is relaxation at the level of the mind, in other words, mental relaxation. The idea is to calm our thoughts, to get rid of tension at the level of our mind as well. The already described method of focusing attention, this time on quieting ourselves, can help with this.
What distinguishes relaxation from meditation? If one wanted to distinguish between meditation and relaxation, relaxation would be more about releasing blockages and tensions at the physical and emotional levels, while meditation would be bringing order at the mental level and going beyond the mental level.
It is time for meditation itself. It’s worth realizing that it doesn’t necessarily mean some unusual trance-like states of consciousness. In fact, it can be quite the opposite: Meditation, however, is not only the discovery of hidden dimensions of consciousness (reaching the depths of our awareness), but is also reaching a state of total naturalness. Meditation also helps in everyday activities, and many everyday activities can become meditation when we are fully present in the moment here and now.
For those new to meditation, it will probably be easiest to use the method of focusing attention on a particular object, or possibly an image on a piece of paper (such as a white square on a black background). The idea is to breathe freely and, avoiding distracting thoughts, stare at the given object (image) for about 2-3 minutes, maintaining inner calm. It is good to start with two such sessions a day.
Such detachment will help lower stress levels, calm you down, make it easier to catch some distance from the problems plaguing us. Greater awareness of how we feel will help us enjoy more the joys that, after all, happen to us every day. It is necessary to be able to see them in order to appreciate them.