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This article is offered as a preview and contains only the first introductory chapter of my book: The Ultimate Meditation Guide.
There’s a lot of buzz around meditation, but very few understand the essence of what’s it all about. Keeping that in mind, I created this detailed meditation guide covering the topic in great depth.
As a meditation practitioner and teacher, I often get a lot of questions about meditation.
Some of them are confused. Some want to know how to get started. Some want to know specific meditation techniques that are best suited for them. And some people are just curious about this practice in general.
I’m going to cover all the possible information here. Besides, I’m also going to answer some of the most commonly frequently asked beginner’s questions.
Some of them are as follows:
- Why do we need to meditate?
- How and where to practice meditation?
- What are the benefits of practicing meditation and the science behind them?
- What are the different types of meditation practices?
- What is the correct seating posture?
- How can meditation help with stress and anxiety?
- Breathing Techniques.
- And some of the other frequently asked questions.
This meditation guide is your one-stop shop to get all the information you need about meditation.
So my dear readers, get hold of your favorite beverage and tie your seatbelts, as this is going to be a long and eye-opening journey.
What is Meditation And Why Do We Need It?
Meditation is a practice that allows us to access deeper states of our mind. The deeper you go within the mind, the more peaceful it becomes.
At a certain point, you experience yourself as the pure unchanging awareness that is infinite and one with everything in this universe.
This mental state is the place of absolute restful calm. Reaching such depths enables us to rise above our worries, fears, anxieties, insecurities, and gives us a profound realization of the essence of our pure being.
When the mind is quiet, we discover who we indeed are and the purpose of our lives. Meditation provides us a host of other benefits that I shall subsequently cover in the sections to follow.
But an important thing to remember is that meditation is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. It takes a lot of patience and consistent practice to see the actual results.
Let’s understand this through the analogy of an ocean. Our mind is like an ocean with turbulent waves at the surface, but the bottom is always quiet and peaceful.
The troubled mind is the conscious mind that we make use of to survive in the world.
But there is a deeper layer of mind, also known as the subconscious mind. This one is very dominant and extremely powerful. The habits that we form by exercising our conscious mind get stored within the subconscious mind.
For example, daily routine activities like brushing teeth, bathing, eating a meal, and driving down to work, are stored in your subconscious mind. You don’t have to think about performing these activities. They get done automatically.
Deeper than the subconscious mind lies the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is the storehouse of vast amounts of information that contains the answers to questions such as, ‘Who are we?’, ‘Why are we here?’, and ‘And why do we behave in the manner we do?’.
Stress arises when our conscious mind is not in sync with the unconscious mind. For example, a person might claim to be very loving and spiritual on the outside, but behave like a complete psychopath when no one is watching, or when things don’t go according to their expectations.
Another example would be when people make plans to achieve goals – these could be anything like fitness, making money, improving relationships, or merely practicing self-care. But when the time comes to take action, they don’t do anything.
Have you ever thought about why you fail to take action? What stops you?
What stops you is the ‘fear’ trapped within your subconscious mind. The fear gets accumulated in the subconscious’s vast depths, and some of it trickles down into the unconscious. That’s what is stopping you from taking action.
Meditation allows you to reach the deepest parts of your mind and face the fears until they are gone. Initially, this is a very overwhelming experience, but with guidance, sufficient time and practice, you will build resilience to afflicting thoughts and emotions, and witness yourself completely separated from them.
Meditation reduces stress by calming the conscious mind. When the conscious mind is calm, we automatically start getting access to deeper parts of it. It’s important to understand that our behaviors are primarily dictated by what lies within our unconscious mind. It is extremely powerful.
Unfortunately, we do not have direct access to our unconscious mind. And that’s the reason why we become slaves to our habits and tendencies. Time and again, troubling emotions arise from within our unconscious, the traumatic effects of which are felt in the body.
Suggested Reading: Shadow Work – The Ultimate Guide to Integrating Your Dark Side.
Problems like stress, anxiety, and depression are just the symptoms felt in the body. The problem lies deep within the unconscious mind.
To rid ourselves of such ailments, we need to turn this around, i.e., we have to become the master and make the unconscious our slave.
But is that possible? I would say it is. But it requires a lot of commitment and dedication. Learning to quiet the mind is a skill, and it can be only mastered through regular practice. The ocean is deep, but it is not inaccessible.
Meditation works to synchronize the conscious with the unconscious. With enough practice, it can go even further and create a union between the conscious, unconscious, and superconscious (universal) mind. This union is called ‘Yoga.’
But is calming the mind that easy? Well, I’d say that it’s much easier to tame an untrained horse than to calm the mind. But it certainly can be achieved with unwavering discipline and consistent practice.
There’s a lot of information on meditation and relaxation techniques to combat stress and anxiety, but what disappoints me is that majority of them (even the most reputed sites) ignore some fundamentals (which we shall cover here) when it comes to practicing meditation.
When practicing meditation, some prerequisites are essential and should never be ignored under any circumstance; otherwise, we’ll be just wasting our time.
We are going to talk about a practice that just not merely brings about a temporary change in physiology to make you feel relaxed, but an approach that has long-lasting effects.
I’m trying to say that we should not think of meditation merely as a quick fix for stress relief. Just 15 to 20 minutes of meditation sessions can easily relax anyone. For that matter, even a 10 minutes deep breathing exercise or a high-intensity workout will relax us.
But these effects are temporary. Meditation practiced with the right mindset will have a long-lasting impact. Not only that, but it will also help in building emotional resilience and endurance.
It’s not that you’ll never be sad or face stress again. What will happen is that you’ll develop the courage to accept your situation, and get on with your life even in the most adverse circumstances.
When practiced consistently over a long time, meditation does something much more than this temporary relaxation. It brings about a significant change in the way we perceive ourselves and the world, and that’s something that makes a real difference.
Meditation is not a new-age fad, but a practice that dates back thousands of years, and many great sages and monks have practiced it throughout centuries.
The oldest written evidence of meditation is in the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of Hindus, dating somewhere around 1500 BCE. Over time the practice of meditation has undergone a lot of change.
Many new meditation practices take into consideration the contemporary lifestyle and are most apt for modern-day living. A lot of research is going on the positive effects of meditation on treating various mental ailments.
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