1. Stress Reduction
Meditation reduces stress. Meditation practice gives you some “down time” to isolate yourself from the outer world both physically and mentally. It relaxes both your body and your mind and therefor reduces your stress. Practicing meditation is to give yourself time to recover, to clear your mind and to gain energy.
2. Improved Health
Meditation will improve your health by strengthening your immune system, reducing your blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels.
Meditation is often of particular interest to people who are diagnosed with a chronic or potentially life threatening illness. People with serious medical conditions like cancer will sometimes turn to meditation as a means to enhance the process of healing and recovery. While meditation should never be used as a substitute for proper medical care, in some cases it can lead to medical breakthroughs and healing even when traditional medical treatments have been unsuccessful.
Of course, you do not have to be terminally ill to benefit from the healing effects of meditation! Even if you have just come down with a case of the flu, meditation will enhance the function of your immune system and help to you to rest more deeply, leading to a speedier recovery.
Meditation also happens to be a wonderful way to alleviate headaches and to prevent them from recurring.
3. Improved Sleep
Sleep is a totally natural human function, and it’s something we need every day. But if you have a busy mind or if you are stressed then you may find that your sleep is not as restorative as it should be. Meditation dramatically improves the quality of your sleep, and it is one of the most powerful natural treatments for insomnia. A great reason to meditate.
4. Slowed Aging
Studies into the effects of meditation have shown that the regular practice of meditation can slow the aging process. The biological age of long term meditators is generally less than those of people who have never meditated. It is believed that the physiological cause of this is due to the fact that meditation helps to reduce the body’s production of free radicals. Free radicals are organic molecules that are responsible for aging, tissue damage, and possibly some diseases.
5. Emotional Stability and Positive Thinking
Meditation is a very powerful natural prescription for people who suffer from anxiety and/or depression, and it is also taught to people who have difficulty controlling their anger. However, you do not need to have a serious psychological condition for meditation to be of benefit to you! Every-day people who meditate generally enjoy a lot more…
People who meditate are less stressed, healthier, they sleep better, and they have a more positive outlook on life. Simply put, meditation makes you a happier person!
How to Practice Sitting Meditate?
Whether you sit on a chair or cross—legged on the floor, make sure that your spine is upright with head up. If you are slumped your mind will drift. Mind and body are intertwined. If your body is well—balanced, your mind will also be in balance. To straighten up, imagine that your head is touching the sky.
Try and keep you eyes open. Open eyes allow you to be more present. Just lower your eyes and let your gaze be soft. If you close your eyes you will be more likely to drift away on thoughts and stories. However, it’s important to do what is comfortable for you. Some people find closing their eyes much more effective. It’s good to experiment and see what feels best for you.
In ordinary consciousness we are hardly ever present. For example, sometimes we drive the car on autopilot while being preoccupied with thoughts. Suddenly we arrive at our destination and don’t remember anything about the drive!So, meditation is a wonderful way of waking up to our life. Otherwise we miss most of our experiences because we are somewhere else in our mind! Let’s take a look at what focus is. In ordinary life, we tend to equate focus with concentration. That’s like using the mind like a concentrated beam of light. But in meditation, that kind of mind isn’t helpful. It’s too sharp and edgy. To focus in meditation means to pay soft attention to whatever you place in the centre of awareness. I suggest using the breath as a focus. It’s like a natural door that connects ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Zen Master Toni Packer says:Attention comes from nowhere. It has no cause. It belongs to no one.
4. The breath
Paying attention to the breath is a great way to anchor yourself in the present moment. Notice your breath streaming in and out. There’s no need to regulate the breath – just let it be natural.
5. Counting you breath
If you are having difficulties settling, you can try counting the breath – which is an ancient meditation practice. On your outbreath, silently count “one”, then “two”, and up to “four”. Then return to “one”. Whenever you notice your thoughts have strayed far away or you find yourself counting “thirtythree”, simply return to “one”. In this way, “one” is like coming home to the present moment. It’s good to return without a backward glance.
When you notice thoughts, gently let them go by returning yous focus to the breath. Don’t try and stop thoughts; this will just make you feel agitated. Imagine that they are unwelcome visitors at your door: acknowledge their presence and politely ask them to leave. Then shine the soft light of your attention on your breath.
It’s difficult to settle into meditation if you are struggling with strong emotions. This is because some emotions tend to breed stories in the mind. Especially anger, shame and fear create stories that repeat over and over in the mind. Anger and shame make us keep looking at past events of the past. Fear looks at the future with stories that start with, “What if…”The way to deal with strong emotions in meditation is to focus on the body feelings that accompany the emotion. For example, this could be the tight band of fear around the chest or the hot roiling of anger in the belly. Let go of the stories and refocus on your body. In this way you are honouring your emotions but not becoming entangled in stories.
Silence is healing. I know that there are is a lot of ‘meditation music’ around, but nothing beats simple silence. Otherwise the music or sounds on the tape just drown out the chatter in your mind. When we sit in silence we actually get to experience what our mind is doing. There is steadiness and calmness that comes from sitting in silence. In time outer and inner silence meet and you come to rest in the moment.
Start with 10 minutes and only sit longer if you feel that that is too short. Don’t force yourself to meditate longer if you are not ready to do that. In time you might like to extend your meditation to 25 minutes. That’s a length that allows you to settle your mind without causing too much stress on your body. Most importantly, shrug off any ‘shoulds’. Some people enjoy sitting for an hour at a time. Others find that they can’t sit longer than 10 minutes. Do what feels right for you!
It’s lovely to create a special place to sit. You can even make a shrine or an altar that you can face when you sit in meditation. You might like to place a candle on your altar and objects that have meaning to you. It’s lovely to find objects for your altar as you walk. Maybe you find stones, or seashells, or flowers that speak to you.
Most of all it’s important to enjoy meditation. You might like to try sitting with a hint of a smile. Be kind to yourself. Start sitting just a little each day. It’s helpful to establish a daily habit.
How to practice walking meditation?
Walking Meditation is a wonderful way of transforming something that we do every day into a deeply healing, deeply nourishing and enjoyable tool for our awakening. It is a practice found both in Taoist and Buddhist traditions. When we practice walking meditation, each step of our journey becomes the destination – becomes peace and joy.
ten to thirty minutes, or longer if you’d like
It’s wonderful to practice walking meditation any time that we are walking. When we’re first learning the practice, however, it’s best to set aside a particular time for it – say, first thing in the morning, or during your lunch break, or right before bed at night.
Walking meditation can be practiced indoors or outside. When the weather is nice, I like to practice outside, where I can be energized by the trees and sky. It’s good to either go bare-foot (especially if you are inside) or wear shoes that give your feet and toes plenty of room to spread out.
Now, simply stand with your spine upright and your shoulders relaxed, letting your arms hang naturally by your sides. Take a couple of long, slow and deep breaths. As you exhale, let go of any unnecessary tension, smile gently, and let your attention flow deep into your belly, hips, legs and feet. Relax your pelvis, as though you had just mounted a horse. Feel your connection to the earth.
Next, begin to coordinate your breathing with taking small steps: as you inhale, step forward with your left foot; as you exhale, step forward with your right foot; and continue in this way. Let your gaze be focused gently on the ground in front of you. You can also experiment with taking several steps with the inhale, and several with the exhale. But keep the pace quite slow (slower than your habitual walking) and relaxed.
As you become comfortable coordinating breath with walking, try adding this beautiful visualization: Each time you place one of your feet down, imagine that you are kissing the earth, through the sole of your foot. Each time you pick up one of your feet, imagine that a beautiful pink/white lotus is now blossoming in the place that your foot just was. In this way, our walking becomes a way of expressing our love for the earth, and of creating beauty with each step.
Walk this way – slowly, enjoying each step, with no thought of “getting somewhere” other than right where you are, here and now – for ten minutes or longer. Notice how you feel.
Little by little, incorporate this practice into your daily life – taking three or four slow, mindful steps, kissing the earth, whenever you think of it. Notice how this changes the quality of your day.
Don’t worry if this kind of walking feels awkward at first. We’re learning to pay close attention to something that we’re not used to paying close attention to. Little by little, it will start to feel quite natural.
When you stretch out your feet and toes completely, and let the entire bottom of your foot be in contact with the ground, nerves, arteries and meridians connected to the entire body are stimulated – which is very beneficial for our health.
Let your mind be focused and relaxed. If it wanders into thoughts of past or future, simply come back to the practice.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Long Road Turns To Joy: A Guide To Walking Meditation” is a wonderful resource (see link below). Da Liu’s “Tai Chi Chuan & Meditation” includes a section on meditative walking, along with instructions on sitting, moving and sleeping meditation practices.