What is meditation?
Meditation is intense focus, concentration or contemplation. It is leaning the skill of focusing the mind.
We can use a number of anchors to use to focus our awareness. These can include:
- Watching or counting your breath
- Watching the Ocean waves
- Gazing at a candle or the stars
- Walking meditation where your full awareness is on your feet and the connection to the ground
- Mantra or chanting (repeating a phrase or words)
- Focusing on gratitude or compassion/kindness
... any many others
With practice, we find our mind is able to focus with less and less distraction. We train our mind to focus where we want it to focus.
Some of the many benefits...
- Increases blood flow to your brain
- Reduces cortisol production, a stress-induced hormone that suppresses the immune system and can make you feel anxious, nervous and unsettled for no real reason.
- Reduces blood pressure and heart rate
- Increases the production of good neurotransmitters including serotonin and dopamine, both of which play a huge role in controlling our moods. It’s understood that low levels of serotonin cause depression.
- Triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which enables us to rest and recover from stress.
- Causes muscle relaxation.
- Increases stress resilience. The Gap
- Increases focus and present moment awareness.
- Increases a sense of connection to yourself and others.
- Increases your sense of purpose and meaning.
Do these benefits occur with one session? You will get some benefit with every session but the most benefit comes from regular practice. Preferably daily – even five minutes a day to start. One of the best ways to start is to set up a regular time and place that you can meditate. If your meditation becomes a habit you are more likely to continue the practice and reap the benefits.
Who can meditate?
Anyone. I have taught children as young a two, adults, people who are ill, people who are well. Everyone can meditate.
Styles of meditation
There are many many styles. Moving mediation, sitting meditation, religious, chanting, open eyed, close-eyed, walking. The beauty of having so many options is that you can choose the ones that suit you best. I have a suite of options at my disposal and I may just do one over and over again or I go through times when I do a different one every day. Depends on my mood and where I am at.
Can I teach it?
Eventually when we mediate regularly, we get to the state of meditation. We start by focusing on something. The breath, an object, a candle and eventually it all melts away and we feel we a deep sense of connection.
Can I teach that state of meditation? Simply no. It’s would be like teaching a baby to sleep.
Who has children? Been awake in the middle of the night trying to get a baby to sleep. You can do everything to try to get a baby to sleep. You can feed them, change them, wrap them, get the room cozy and warm but if they don’t want to sleep it’s not going to happen.
It’s the same with meditation. I can teach you to relax the body, focus on something – help you create the right conditions –, but the state of deep mediation comes from you when you are ready. Some people are natural mediators and find it easy. Others take longer.
Does it mean that mediating is useless without finding this state? No, you are still reaping many benefits from a daily practice.