The mention of meditation usually brings to mind an old sage sitting crossed-legged in a cave. You don’t have to be old or go to a cave to practise meditation. In fact, meditation is something that everyone can learn and practise in our daily life so that our mind is calm and free from worries. In today’s hectic and stressful world, many people are often tensed, anxious and unhappy. Meditation is a useful tool to help us overcome stress and find the much needed inner peace.
The essence of meditation is to quiet the mind. Each day thousands of thoughts race through our mind. As a result, we do not have a clear and focused mind. It’s like rough sea churning up sediments causing the water to be murky. When the sea is calm, the sediments will settle and the water will then become clear. Similarly, through meditation, we learn to calm the mind and rid ourselves of distracting thoughts so that our mind will become clear and alert. We will also feel more relaxed and refreshed. When we master meditation, we can also easily change our mind from troubled to peaceful or from negative to positive. Thus, we will become happier and feel more peaceful.
Meditation is not something that is difficult to learn. The key is to keep practising. The length of time to meditate depends on how much time you have. On a busy day, you may choose to just spend 10-15 mins meditating. If time permits, you can always try to meditate for longer period of up to an hour.
Try these simple steps for a start.
* Find a quiet place so that you will not get distracted by noise.
* Sit in a comfortable position. You can choose to sit with your legs crossed or otherwise. You can also sit on the chair if you like. Try to keep your back fairly straight so that your mind will not become drowsy and you won’t feel sleepy so easily.
* Gently close your eyes and breathe naturally through your nose.
* Turn your attention to your breathing. As you inhale, notice that your stomach expands. When you exhale, notice it contracts. This movement of expansion and contraction in your stomach as you breathe is the focal point for you when you meditate. If you can’t feel much of the movement, gently place your hand over your stomach and you will be able to feel it better.
It is very common that after a short while of noting the movement of your stomach, your mind starts to wander off and you start thinking about other things. When you notice this, slowly bring your attention back to the focal point and start noting the stomach movement again. Every time when your mind goes astray, just come back to the focal point again. Don’t feel frustrated or give up easily if you find you can’t concentrate for long on the movement of your stomach. Be patient and continue to practise. With practise, you will realise that your concentration improves and your mind wanders off less. Keep an open mind and allow yourself time to experience the true benefits of meditation.
When our mind is peaceful, we can experience true happiness. Ask anyone if he or she wants to be happy and the answer is most definitely “of course!” So meditation is for everyone, regardless of age, race or religion. As long as we want to experience happiness and inner peace, meditation can help us achieve that.