How to Get the Most Out of Meditation

Millions of people all over the world meditate daily and they do so for various reasons. Stress reduction, relaxation, improving focus and productivity, pain reduction, and developing an improved sense of well being are all typical benefits of this simple and ancient practice.

If you are interested in any of the benefits than follow the simple guide that follows so you can get the most out of your meditation practice.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a very ancient custom with written records dating as far back as 1500 BC in the Hindu writings. It is included in many religions including Taoists, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and Christians to name a few. The way that each religion approaches meditation ranges from slightly different to totally different, but each approach used in the various religions is to help one’s search for God and to better themselves as a follower of that religion.

Around the 1950s and 1960s secular meditation was introduced to the United States and Europe meaning that people used the techniques and methods that are used in the various religious forms of meditation, but one’s purpose for meditating had nothing to do with their relationship with God. They meditated simply to get the benefits of meditating, such as being able to reduce their stress or to focus their mind on one thing at a time better or to be able to relax.

Anyone Can Meditate Following a Few Simple Steps.

First one should determine where they are going to meditate. They should choose a quiet room or peaceful place outdoors, so that most distractions are not present when they meditate. After you have chosen the perfect spot for you to meditate, then you determine how much time you wish to spend meditating. It is better to start with a short length of time in the beginning so that you become used to doing it, and so that you can fit it into your schedule easier.

The next step is to determine how you are going to sit comfortably. Most Westerners are used to sitting a chair, as opposed to people from other culture who are used to sitting on the floor and crossing their legs. The whole idea is for you to be totally comfortable when you sit to meditate, so you think about what works best for you, instead of trying to copy what you have seen others do. Feel free to use pillows, cushions, soft throws, or any other “prop” that your body may need to be able to sit comfortably in whatever position you choose for the time period that you have chosen to meditate. For some people, lying down is the only way that they can be comfortable enough to meditate. It is best to be sitting, but you have to decide for yourself what works best for your body.

Be sure that you are wearing comfortable clothing,that is loose, so that you are not bothered by any physical sensations that tight fitting clothing can create. The whole purpose of meditation is to forget about one’s body and to focus with their mind on one thing. Having any type of physical discomfort will only distract you when you start to meditate.

Now you are ready to meditate. Set your timer for the amount of time that you want to spend. If your timer makes an audible ticking sound, place it far enough away from you so that you do not hear the ticking, but will only hear the alarm when it goes off. Hearing ticking will be a distraction to your trying to meditate in the beginning. If you need to, put the timer in another room so that you do not hear the ticking. Test the placement of your timer before you start your meditation time to be sure that you don’t hear the ticking but do hear the alarm. Once you have that squared away, you are ready to meditate.

Start with five, ten or perhaps fifteen minutes as your length of time. Set your timer for the amount of time that you have chosen, plus a few minutes so that you have time to get to the place that you have chosen to meditate and get comfortable in your chair, on the floor, outside, or lying down.

Place your hands in a comfortable position. Most people put them on their legs with their palms up, near their hips, so that they can tell if their body is leaning forward or staying straight. If you are physically able, sit with your spine totally erect from the tail bone all way to the top of your head. Do the best that you can. The main point is to be comfortable.

Take a deep breath in through your nose, keeping your mouth shut. Exhale slowly through your nose. Breathe in and out slowly at least ten times, just to help settle your body and mind down.

Tense your entire body consciously. Then consciously relax your entire body. If any body part “speaks to you” as you do that, it means that you are holding tension in that part of your body. Try to put tension in that body part specifically…and then consciously relax that body part. If you have several areas that are tense, consciously tense and then relax each body part until you have finished with each body part that was tense. This helps your body to relax.

Hold your arm out in front of the center of your face and hold your hand in a “thumbs up” position. Focus your eyes on your thumb. Now put your arm down and close your eyes. Keep focusing on the spot where your thumb was. If your eyes hurt, you are focusing them too close to your face. Focus them further out – both eyes focusing on where the thumb was.

Now you are ready to focus your mind on one thing. The easiest thing to focus on is your breath because everyone breathes. Keeping your eyes focuses on where your thumb was, keeping your mouth closed and only breathing through your nose…focus your mind on the sensation of your breath. Inhaling and exhaling at a pace that is comfortable for you, follow the breath with your mind as it enters your nose, goes down your throat, into your lungs and then returns back following the same path in your body. Keep your eyes focused on where your thumb was, do not let them follow your breath.

As the minutes pass, if your mind wishes to just watch the breath in one particular place, like your nose, or your throat, then allow it to do so. Concentrate on breathing naturally and freely through your nose. If your nose is congested that day, then breathe through your mouth. It is preferable to breathe through your nose, but do the best that you can.

When the alarm goes off it is time to open your eyes and get up and go about your day. If you enjoyed your time meditating, and wish to meditate for another few minutes, feel free to do so.

The most important part of meditating is that you concentrate on only one thing. In the beginning it is difficult to only concentrate on one thing because sitting in a particular way, focusing your closed eyes in a particular way, keeping your spine straight, and concentrating on your breath may seem overwhelming, but once you get used to doing all of these things at the same time, you will be able to just concentrate on your breathing.

Once you are comfortable with doing this, if you want to increase your time, do so gradually, so that your body won’t be overwhelmed or become restless. When your mind wanders away from concentrating on your breath, gently bring it back to concentrating on your breath, just as you would lead a small child who has wandered off, back to where they are supposed to be. Do not be upset with yourself, just gently bring your mind back to concentrating on your breath.

It has been said that it is easier to stop a herd of stampeding elephants than it is for one to quiet their mind and only concentrate on one thing, without stray thoughts of other things popping up while they are trying to concentrate. So, be easy on yourself. It is very difficult for most people to only concentrate on one thing, especially today in our fast-paced, multi-tasking society.

What Would Happen If You Meditated Every Day?

Imagine if you are able to learn to sit quietly for several minutes each day and relax your body and only concentrate on one thing. The benefit you’ll gain from just sitting quietly with no distractions in today’s world is enormous. If you are also able to be comfortable, to relax your entire body, and to focus your mind on only one thing, you will find that your stress level lowers. The practice of consciously tensing your entire body and then consciously relaxing it really helps your body to totally relax. Most of us carry tension somewhere in our bodies without even realizing it. By paying attention to your body and discovering where you are holding tension, and consciously releasing that tension really helps your body to recover from the stress of daily life.

Eventually you will be able to focus your mind on just one thing at a time, which will enable you to accomplish the task at hand in a much more efficient manner and much faster than if your mind was not focused on just that one task. You will find that you have more time in the day because you are able to do your normal tasks faster because you are focusing on getting them done, and not allowing your mind to think about twenty things at the same time or allowing your mind to wander to some other thought or task.

The benefits are endless, and the rewards are multiple. You will find that you become more peaceful in your daily life when you are able to consciously relax your body and to consciously focus on one thing. Your stress level will also lower because you are giving your body a brief time to just relax and be still.

Try it. You have nothing to lose but some stress and tension.

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