The meditation is popular in the modern world, and scientists recognize the great perspective for the future in it. You can drown in the flow of information while browsing websites, looking through the numerous articles on this topic without clear answers for yourself. People start the practice wrong, don’t get the desired results, or don’t start at all. By the way, children learn meditation since childhood in India. This is a great tool that helps everyone in our modern world to end its bustle and stress. In this article, we consider the most frequently asked questions that people ask, and try to separate the wheat from the chaff.
What is meditation?
At first, let’s find out what a meditation stands for. If we turn to the respected Wikipedia, we will find the following definition: “Meditation (from lat. meditatio -meditation) – a kind of exercises for the psyche used in the framework of spiritual, religious or recreational practice, or a special mental state that occurs as a result of these exercises (or for other reasons).”
Notice, there is no word thinking. We’ll come back to that later.
Initially, meditation is a method of awakening human nature. During meditation, work with thoughts, affirmations, visualizations is not required. In meditation, we are eager to stop identifying ourselves with the thinking process. We do not get involved in thoughts, emotions, desires we witness them. According to the meditation practice, we stop suffering from the chaotic “cloud of chattering” in our head later, and the mind itself becomes clear, skillful, turning into a good instrument. We become masters of our minds. The human brain is often hollow, chaotic. We always think about the past, the future, the present, constantly estimate and analyze everything. It takes a huge amount of efforts. Most people can’t stop uncontrolled thinking, except for short-term measures such as food, sex, music, smoking, drugs, alcohol, and other entertainments. In meditation we can stay not involved in the flow of thoughts, watching what is happening. Therefore, if we take the interpretation of the definition of meditation, we can translate it in this context: stop identifying yourself with thinking, and don’t think of anything at all.
Today, many people use meditation as a technique that helps to relax and achieve positive effects. If you dig deeper, meditation is an integral part of the educational process in spiritual schools to go beyond the ego. This is a kind of inner work that allows you to immerse in the more subtle layers of consciousness, thereby awakening the human nature. Thus, if we take meditation techniques seriously, they help to speed up the process of our spiritual evolution.
Types of meditation
There are many techniques of meditation, all of them can be divided into 2 types (according to the principle of working with attention):
- Concentration of attention (when we focus and hold our attention on something: object, sound, body feeling, our breath);
- Deconcentration (when we don’t focus or hold attention, we observe what is happening both inside and outside including thoughts and emotions). An example of such meditation is the well-known meditation of emptiness in Buddhism. In both cases, the correct approach to meditation implies that we do not analyze and estimate either the objects of concentration or what is happening.
We are not talking about such techniques as visualization, relaxation, affirmations, where you need to imagine something, that is to use the imagination. They have another task: to relax or to realize our goals and desires directly. In meditation, the goal is much deeper – going beyond duality.
Most of the meditations came to us from the East. Nevertheless, in the Russian-speaking region (former CIS countries) they use such a method. One of these meditations is Paradanta meditation, which means “going beyond all limits”. It belongs to the second type of meditation (without focusing). We teach this meditation in our school.
How can I learn meditation
Many people ask how to get into the meditation. Professional meditation techniques cannot be learned from a book or DVD. Teaching meditation requires system training, it goes through several stages and takes some time. Therefore, you need to find a school and a teacher (i.e. a competent person, who can help). In some centers, where the educational process is short-term, the quality of training is inefficient.
The training system itself can’t be mass or conveyor, or not imply an individual approach. It is important to understand that exercising meditation is not the endpoint. You need to understand what do you want to get. Many people use meditation to relax, ease the tension of the mind, relieve stress. The main purpose of meditation is to help the person to gain control over the brain. The next step is to free his mind from frames and the body from various blocks. We can say that meditation (if we talk about professional technique) is one of the most powerful tools on the way of personal spiritual development. It allows you to make up to 50% of the “rough work” of cleansing the body and, above all, settling one’s nerves. Thus, meditation accelerates and facilitates the process of restructuring of the whole body and internal transformation. The meditation technique, transferred from the master, allows you to clear the mind of all destructive programs quickly and painlessly.
At the very least, you can learn some relaxation technique or concentration according to the book or video, but its effectiveness will be very low. If you want to get a result from meditation, it is necessary to understand the thoroughness of the inner work. You should address a professional coach, who guarantees safety otherwise you can hurt yourself. It’s even more serious than to pilot a plane, although it seems simple. “Why do I need a teacher? I can do everything by myself, sit with my eyes closed and meditate!”
You can experiment, but it is always risky. If you want to get a positive effect and not to break anything, you need a system of training.
What are the benefits of meditation in daily life
Mechanisms of self-regulation of the body activate during meditation. Meditation gives a deep rest to both the nervous system and the entire body (deeper than in the sleep), helps to get out of stress quickly. Thus, it strengthens the nervous system and increases its stress resistance. It raises our vitality, immunity, improves sleep, restores the natural internal biological rhythms. It helps to develop our intelligence, creativity, increases the efficiency of a person’s activity, concentration, improves memory, develops intuition. People who meditate usually sleep less, because, the boost of energy through meditation requires less time to recover.
The effect of meditation raises steadily: the more practice you have, the greater the result. Research study shows that meditators have a warmer relationship with others, they are calm and confident, more creative and effective in solving the problems, less prone to stress. They feel more harmony, peace, and joy. Also, thanks to meditation, people can develop supernatural abilities. The development of these abilities is not a goal of meditation is one of the spillover effects. The right approach to meditation reduces the risk that a person will cause trouble.
What happens in our body during meditation
Scientists researched the mechanisms of our body during meditation for a long time. There are various transformational changes in certain brain areas, as well as the normalization of the level of some hormones and neurotransmitters. For example, research study has shown that meditating people have high levels of substances such as serotonin (“happiness hormone”), DHEA hormone (dehydroepiandrosterone) – “youth hormone”, GABA (gamma-aminobutyrate, gamma-aminobutyric acid), endorphins, somatotropin, melatonin (sleep hormone), and reduced levels of cortisol (stress hormone).
During meditation the brain changes its frequency – it goes from beta waves to alpha waves. That corresponds to the intermediate phase between sleep and wakefulness (peripheral phase of sleep). The insights come, and different discoveries are made in this state.
In General, meditation activates neurohumoral regulation in the body, triggers internal mechanisms of self-regulation and self-recovery, contributes to the deep cleansing of our mind and body. It gives a lot of different side effects.
Who benefits from meditation, and where it can be used
Meditation is useful:
- in corporate environment
- in professions with high levels of stress
- in professions that require increased concentration
- in professions related to heavy physical labor
- for business owners
- for CEOs
- for journalists and translators
- for students
- for teachers and educators (parents)
- for people of creative professions (dancers, musicians, artists, writers, composers, actors)
- for models
- in martial arts
- for athletes
- for practitioners (Chi Kung, Reiki, etc.)
The question of crucial importance to many people: What is the relationship between sports and meditation?
The use of meditation in the sports field allows you to get higher results because meditation promotes a rapid recovery after the training, and after usual exercises. It reduces the risk of the infraction, as the athlete feels his own body better. A sense of the opponent develops, which is very important for martial arts. Injuries heal faster. Sports (as well as yoga) enhance the effect of meditation and soften the cleansing processes during it the body becomes healthier and stronger.
What time of day is the best for meditation
Regular practice of meditation is necessary to achieve some positive results (as in sports). The best option is meditation in the morning and in the evening. In the morning we charge for the whole day, and in the evening we recover after a hard day’s work.
How long to meditate
We recommend you to go through meditation training to get the maximum understanding of all aspects of the safety of this process, as well as to learn to meditate correctly. In any case, we recommend meditating no more than 30 minutes 2 times a day. This is enough to achieve a positive outcome when meditation won’t hide you from real life and won’t cause unpleasant side effects.
If a person meditates on his own, he can overdo the duration of meditation because it is quite a pleasant process.
What position is better for meditation?
First of all, the pose has to be comfortable. The only thing to remember is a straight spine and not to touch the wall or the back of the chair (so as not to provoke yourself to sleep) by the head. In the East, it is customary to meditate in the Lotus position, because in this position the spine is open. The western person may meditate sitting on the chair.
Do I need to use music or fragrance during meditation?
You have to understand that meditation is not a way to spend time, to escape from life, to get high. The best option is a quiet, peaceful place where no one will distract you, where a person can safely pay attention to his inner work without any backup. This is the shortest way to train meditation.
Important points that you should consider practicing meditation
- Frequency is important in every sphere of life if we want to achieve goals. Meditation should be performed daily, 2 times a day, morning and evening (see above).
- Do not meditate with a full stomach it is better not to eat for 1-2 hours before meditation.
- You need to meditate only with a straight spine, in the way you feel comfortable to sit, and the body is completely relaxed. In such pose (sitting on a chair or in a Lotus position) the spine has maximum energy.
- Sitting crooked blocks our body. You can meditate lying if you are ill.
- Control is the most wide-spread mistake, especially for beginners. The less effort we put, the better our nature works.
- The only criterion for the correct performance of the meditation is the pleasure. If there is joy, there is no mind control. The right option is not to control the process of meditation.
- You need to exit smoothly. A rough exit from meditation may cause headaches and discomfort. A person immerses in the thin layers of consciousness. The sudden stop can be compared with the emergency ascent of the diver. You also need to start meditation gradually.
- It is important to understand that any drugs are mutually exclusive with spiritual discipline. Meditation and practices of working with consciousness are aimed to the purification at all levels – the psyche, nervous system, physical body. The toxic substances pollute the body and destabilize the nervous system. Therefore, people who want to practice meditation on a regular basis, need to make a conscious choice, giving up alcohol, cigarettes and similar substances. It is necessary to take into account that medicine also poisons the body (if they are not vital).
What can we face during meditation
- A feeling of inner happiness, causeless joy, but also bouts of anger and irritation (this is connected with purification on the emotional level).
- The flow of thoughts can increase (purification on the mental level). It is not necessary to conflict with thoughts we learn to witness all that is happening.
- Numb limbs. This happens due to the activation of nerve centers. In this case, you can change the position to a more comfortable one. There may be painful feeling in the body (or exacerbation of chronic pain), which is associated with the process of starting the mechanism of self-regulation and self-recovery of the body.
- Palpitations/shortness of breath. Changes in breathing are connected with the purification process.
- Yawning too often (also linked to the cleansing of toxins).
- All sorts of cleansing reactions of the body (vibration), taking place in the form of an external manifestation: motor (involuntary movements, twitching of the body), sound (involuntary sounds, some words, singing), laughter, tears, etc. Many meditators face these phenomena, but it can scare beginners. Do not be afraid of this you need to learn to trust your nature, it just “throws” in this way a variety of physical and emotional blocks and clamps.
- After meditation, a person can feel both cheerfulness and drowsiness. Drowsiness is associated with the restructuring of the body and is temporary. Most often after the meditation, an outbreak of strength and energy comes.
The difficulties usually encountered by beginners
- It is difficult to sit in one place. I want to do something, not to meditate. This happens because a person hasn’t learned to enjoy meditation yet. Therefore, in the process of meditation, there is a strong control or expectation. When practice regularly, it usually goes away.
- Discomfort or back pain. It is difficult to meditate with a straight back (especially if used to sit hunched). It is impossible to meditate in this way. As soon as you feel back pain, sit in a comfortable position. Strong cleansing reactions – both physical (nausea, dizziness) and emotional (explosive release of emotions). In this case, you need to take a break, stop meditating for a while, sit with your eyes closed and let it go.
Can children meditate?
There is no such need for children, they are closer to nature than adults, and they automatically pick up the state from adults. Meditation is a conscious process, and you need to approach it consciously. It happens when a person has consciously answered the question of the meaning of life and wants to develop.
Is it possible to get used to meditation as a drug?
On the Internet, you can find information about cases when during meditation people enter such blissful states that life in society begins to seem unbearable hard labor. The psyche also becomes hypersensitive to everything, and the person, again and again, goes into meditation to escape from it. Thus, there is a complete dissonance in the psyche, it leads to many undesirable consequences, up to the undermining of mental health. In turn, this created a lot of fear, prejudice and negative feedback about meditation in general. The fact is that in the absence of safety and professional approach, people can imperceptibly begin to hide from reality into meditation, especially in a difficult life (a person has experienced a lot of suffering, for example, or recently experienced severe stress). Learning safety techniques and proper meditation skills is especially important if a person has a very sensitive mind. Otherwise, indeed, a person can “stick” to a comfortable state, which can lead to undesirable consequences for him. But you need to understand that these distortions and side effects occur only with an amateur approach when a person independently makes experiments on himself. The quality of meditation training depends heavily on the competence of the teachers themselves, which is very difficult to recognize for beginners, so you also need to know about it.
One should remember that meditation is not a way to escape from life. This is an auxiliary tool to prepare your body for more serious training.
Are there any contraindications for meditating?
There are no contraindications for meditation, except in cases of serious mental disorders (then these cases are considered individually by experts) and dependence on alcohol and drugs.
Do I have to do yoga before meditation?
Not necessarily, but physical exercises from yoga contribute to a greater calming of the mind and prepare a person for a deeper immersion in meditation.
Will meditation help me to be happy?
The practice of meditation allows us to discover the basis of our life. When we find the sense of our lives, it fills all its spheres. It happens quite naturally. In ordinary life in society, we are always chasing the pleasures, our mind is trying every possible way to fill the void. In fact, our life experience suggests that when we are looking for it outside, there is nothing that would give the final satisfaction in the end. As soon as one pleasure ends, we start looking for a new one. But when our mind turns to the source of itself, to this absolute beginning, then in a surprising way we find complete satisfaction. Our mind is always looking for this completeness of finality, it is always striving for more – more knowledge, more power, influence, etc. But when our mind discovers the source itself, it relieves the highest fullness of knowledge. And this is not intellectual education, it is in fact what is called the fruit of all knowledge. It is not specific about something, it is what is the base of anything.
This is the absolute fullness of intelligence. At the level of the ego, any situation that happens in our lives knocks us out. We feel that we are small, oppressed, offended, squeezed into some boundaries, and our sense of individuality wants to somehow break out of this and prove its importance. And at the base of this, there is also a very simple desire of yourself – to become Big. In our everyday life, this is expressed in the desire for the importance of ourselves, in fact, we artificially inflate this sense of individualization in order mostly to seem to be someone big, someone, important. But when this sense of individuality finds the source of itself, which is devoid of any boundaries, then this sense of individuality from a perception of itself as a small point passes into infinity. We can say that individuality acquires a universal, absolute quality. This feeling of unity with all the space around you – every person subconsciously seeks this.
There was a study when psychologists asked a group of people to draw the happiness, as they feel it, the first thing that comes to mind. And all the people were drawing a circle, just a circle on paper.
We are all parts of one whole, and at the same time, we are the whole. And it lays in the memory of each of us as a source of Absolute Happiness. This is pure “happiness within ourselves”. And meditation (together with other techniques) helps us to realize it, gradually transforming our body, consciousness, psyche. And as we have said, meditation is part of the educational system to go beyond the ego. This means that, in addition to meditation, you need to do something else to reach your potential at 100%. Here we come to the method of teaching or School.