Meditation – What Is It All About?
Meditation – The final frontier, well not quite but it is on the rise in popularity and everyone seems to want to know how to do it. This article aims to simplify an extremely complicated subject, so buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Meditation is the journey from sound to silence, from movement to stillness, from a limited identity to unlimited space – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Where did it come from? There is an ancient wall art dating back to as early as 3,500 B.C which shows humans sitting in what we would recognize as a meditation position, and there are Indian scriptures describing meditation from 3,000 years ago. Since then one version or another of meditation has found its way into pretty much every major religion. In Buddhism alone, there are numerous techniques including Zen and Theravadan. Most of the monks and population here in Cambodia are of the Theravadan Buddhist religion.
While it has been around for longer than we can account for in the East, it became more mainstream and popular in the West after the 60’s Transcendental Meditation Movement was taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. You may be familiar with images of George Harrison of the Beatles being involved in the TM movement, as well as other public figures at the time.
These days, the buzz word on everyone’s lips is mindfulness, and meditation has been associated with living in a more mindful way bringing it away from the religious realms. Meditation is now used by businessmen to improve focus at work, by athletes to improve stamina, by those with mental health conditions and anxiety to bring calmness and reduce chronic symptoms.
Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
So how do we do it? Well, there are many different meditation techniques, but here are some simple tips to get you feeling like you are one step closer to enlightenment.
1. Make Sure You Are Comfortable But NOT FALLING ASLEEP
This is why lying down is not recommended as you will drift to sleep and this is not meditation (unfortunately!). So make sure the spine is straight, if you sit on the floor, use a cushion under your bottom. You can sit on a chair but try to support yourself not lean back. Those with injuries can use cushions and support to make sure they are not in chronic pain.
2. Keep the Body Still
We must keep the body still to allow the mind a chance to be still, every movement we make is a fresh new rush of experience for the brain to process and keeps the mind jumping all over the place. Try just 5 minutes in the beginning to allow yourself a chance to stay still, then extend the time, and always use a timer (or alarm on your phone) to time the session so the mind can’t suddenly decide “That’s surely enough time now”.
3. Use the Breath as a Focus Point
This is one of the simplest ways to keep the mind in one place, start by watching the breath, choose the nostrils or the abdomen, and watch the movement of the air in and out, and how it affects your chosen area. When I say watch I mean with eyes closed, bring your mind to that area and observe the natural flow of breath. Every time you notice the mind is no longer on the breath bring it back with patience to focusing on the breath (no frustration please! Just be kind as your mind isn’t used to staying still).
4. Be Patient and Do It Regularly
This is where most of us fall down on progressing with any practice in our lives, whether it’s a sport, a musical instrument, or meditation, we must be patient and practice regularly. This takes commitment, stamina and understanding that with meditation it isn’t about it being “good or bad”, it is what it is. But guess what? These are all things that meditation develops as well! Meditation will develop your patience, stamina, clarity, focus, energy levels, pain threshold and a thousand other benefits many of which are starting to be scientifically proven!
So go forth and sit on a cushion with your timer, and start focusing inward, as true change comes from within!
About the Author
Maria of Get Real Yoga is one of our yoga instructors at our onsite Siem Reap yoga studio, Samadhi Yoga by Navutu Dreams. Maria qualified in Ashtanga and Hatha in India and has taught retreats, resorts, gyms, and privately. She leads the Ashtanga classes with a modern twist and she ensures the classes are inclusive to all ability levels with a dash of comedy – the quickest way to enlightenment is laughter after all!
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