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Buddha Statue

A good time to meditate


History of Meditation
Considered by many cultures and traditions around the world to be the cornerstone of true living, meditation allows us to go deeper into our own selves.

It is something anyone can do with practice and perseverance and like anything in life, becomes easier the more we do it.

The word ‘meditation’ comes from the latin word meditari which means ‘to concentrate’. The aim is usually to focus the mind and allow it to become still. Often our minds jump from topic to topic, aimlessly and randomly linking pieces of information together. Meditation trains the mind to focus on one thing, and eventually learn how to rest.

This does not mean the mind becomes weak or lazy, on the contrary, meditators often find their mind becomes clearer and they are able to remember, understand and assess information more acutely.


Meditation Techniques

Techniques vary greatly and you may like to do some more research to find a style that suits you and your temperament. Here is an outline of four of the major methods of meditating.

Whole Body Relaxation
Can be performed while sitting up or lying down, focus on each part of the body in turn starting at your feet and moving up through the body to the top of the head. Allow 10 minutes for this.

Breath and Breathing
Using the breath is one of the fundamentals in Hindu and Buddhist meditation practice. A whole stream of yoga called Pranayama focuses entirely on controlling the breath. Focus your attention on the breath as you breathe in and out, remain focussed, should the mind wander off, bring your focus back to the breath. This can be done anywhere as you do not need to have your eyes closed. (Great while on public transport or while driving to and from work). Resting in the silence between each breath is also particularly calming.

Visualisations
Probably the most common form of meditation, visualisations allow the overactive mind to continue moving. Visualising an environment, such as walking on a garden path, a beach or re-creating your favourite place trains the mind to re-focus again and again.

Other visualisations include imagining your body filled with light, or air, held together by a casing, then allowing that casing to dissolve and breaking down the notion of body being separate from the whole.

Emptying the Mind
Watching our thoughts as an observer or witness, rather than getting caught up in them is one technique that is particularly rewarding. Disassociating from the mind, we can watch our thoughts go by like a stream, being aware that there is a witness behind the thoughts, feelings and assumptions.

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Benefits of Meditation

Meditation has many benefits, not just knowing your Self a little better. Here are just a few that you may experience:

Physical

  • Improves brain function
  • Reduces the negative effects of stress. Stress is linked to most illness and disease therfore it should reduce overall incidence of being unwell.
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces pain
  • Reduces incidence and severity of headaches
Mental
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • Improved mood
  • Reduced stress
  • Being able to cope
  • More energy
  • Uncover and remove negative mental tendencies and blockages
Spiritual
  • Sense of calm and equilibrium
  • Deeper sense of wellbeing
  • Feeling connected with universal consciousness

These are generalised and each person's experience with meditation is unique. Sometimes old habits and thought patterns are brought to the surface to be dissolved or burnt away. Know that you have the fortitude and perseverance needed for meditation and that you will emerge a stronger person.


Setting Up a Practice of  Meditation

Zabuton Zafu Meditation Cushion

For a deeper experience of meditation it is best to have a designated spot in which you meditate. This can also encourage you to set aside a time (preferably the same time) each day and to honour the space and time. Using a meditation stool or cushion such as a zafu and/or zabuton will support your body during your meditation practice. Make the space unique with a range of meditation cushion colours available including the new orange zafu and zabuton!

Guided Meditation CD

Guided meditation CDs or meditation music CDs are also a great way to start and revitalise your meditation practice.

Meditation Timer

Do you end up keeping one eye open on the time? Meditation timers can bring your awareness back to the room in a gentle and uplifting way, allowing the stillness you have experienced to continue through the day.

For more information about meditation, books are available on the Stretch Now website.


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