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Meditation in the 21st Century

"Basic meditation is something you can practice even if you’re not in a temple"
By: James BarramedaMeditation in the 21st Century

Meditation has been practiced around the world for millennia and was originally meant to deepen one’s understanding of the mystical and sacred forces of life. Today, it has evolved into a technique that is used to achieve a deep state of relaxation and tranquility. It is also commonly used as part of treatment for stress, insomnia, addiction, mental health disorders and other physical ailments. Meditation clears away all the negative emotions and information overload that is brought about by a fast, stressful paced lifestyle.

Apart from this, meditation also increases your self-awareness and forces you to focus on the present. It can give you a fresh perspective on your problematic situations so you get to address them without so much anxiety. In the long run, you’ll start thinking differently about the circumstances that face and approach them in a more calm and collected manner.

Meditation doesn’t just work wonders with stress, below are some of the physical and mental problems that can be alleviated with regular practice:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Depression
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Pain

Cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson, known for 30 years of research on the positive effects of meditation, says that medical conditions that deteriorate because of stress can also be controlled if meditation is made part of the treatment. According to studies conducted at the College of Maharishi Vedic Medicine in Iowa, medication may lower one’s of blood pressure and heart rate significantly with regular practice.

There are actually many different types of meditation techniques and traditions, one of which is called “active meditation”. Active meditation is great for people who live a fast-paced life because it focuses your awareness and thoughts on a positive idea or concept while visualizing it. This will help you get rid of the negative emotions and mental clutter.

Would you like to learn how to practice active meditation? All you need is to commit to at least 10 minutes of uninterrupted time each day. The most ideal is to set it first thing in the morning while everyone else in your household is asleep and there are no distractions.

To help you keep track of time without having to check the clock constantly, you’ll need a timer that alarms – most phones and watches have this so there is no need to buy anything.

Now  the place of meditation is also equally important. Set a special location in your home that is free from distractions. You can help set the mood with lit candles, sound of water flowing and by releasing a pleasant scent of your choice. If you have a window overlooking a good view, you can setup a nice place to meditate right in front of it.

Here’s how you can begin your meditation:

  1. Sit comfortably with your spine straight. Make sure you’re in a comfortable position. It’s best to sit on something that elevates your hips from your legs so as to not impede with your blood circulation.
  2. Relax your abdomen and breathe quietly. Don’t force your inhalations and exhalations, just make normal breaths.
  3. Choose a phrase or “mantra”, a positive feeling or thought. Repeat this mantra in your head over and over as you take in fresh breaths. Some people concentrate better with sound, hence the repeated singing of “om”. This sound sends out pleasant vibrations all over your body.
  4. Visualize a peaceful place while doing this – like a quiet stream or beach. If you’re preparing to participate in a competition or a performance, visualize success in this endeavor. You may opt to hold or place in front of you a small object that reminds you of positive feelings.
  5. Focus on your breathing while scanning every single part of your body - be aware of the different sensations that you feel: it could be warmth and relaxation or maybe pain and tension. Now, try to imagine breathing in relaxing heat or light into and out of the different body parts that you have focused on. Imagine it healing and warming each area as it passes.
  6. Can’t seem to stay focused on meditating by yourself, listen to a guided session – there are downloadable audio clips or CDs that can walk you through an entire meditation session. Better yet, join a group meditation and join many others who want to enjoy the detoxifying effects of each class.

Post meditation journal

It is encouraged to write down your thoughts and reflections in a journal right after meditating. Be very detailed, like how you performed a new technique and how it made you feel before, during and after practicing it. Has it helped you resolve some internal questions and situations that you’ve been trying to address? Documenting the benefits of each session will help you improve how you meditate in the future. Like any other skill, meditation takes practice and hours of reflection before you can achieve complete relaxation even in just a short period of time. Namaste!

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