What is Meditation?
Meditation is a state of thoughtful awareness that helps cultivate insight and foster clarity and tranquility. It is an engagement of focused thought and mindfulness to achieve a state of stillness, detachment, and groundedness. At its core, meditation is a threefold practice that incorporates focusing one’s will, being mindful of one’s thoughts, and releasing one’s emotions. Meditation is scientifically proven to have efficacy on the health of body, mind, and spirit and one’s overall wellbeing.
Different Methods of Meditation
There are several different forms of meditation and meditation can take place in a variety of situations.
One form or practice is referred to as solitary or basic meditation. By sitting in silence, being mindful, and letting go of one’s feelings and distractions, a deep feeling of tranquility and stillness can be attained. Focusing attention on a specific object such as the flame of a candle, chanting a mantra or affirmation, or simply focusing on the breath, can also help one to achieve a centred and grounded state.
Active meditation, such as walking, rhythmic movement, knitting, spinning, weaving, or even gardening, is also an effective method of creating peace and calm, while allowing an individual’s energetic forces to be stimulated and balanced. A walking meditation allows one to still the mind by focusing on a specific path, such as a straight line, a circle, geometric form, or a labyrinth, and by performing different transitions. It is best practiced outdoors in nature, preferably barefoot. Rhythmic movements, such as dance, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and eurhythmy, stimulate both the physical and energetic body and aid in releasing stagnant energy and blockages by allowing energy to flow through an individual in a positive and unhindered way. The repetitive practices of knitting, weaving, and spinning help train the mind to focus and improve concentration. These actions also help quiet the chatter in the mind and create moments of stillness and calm, while also stimulating the physical and energy body through the detailed and meticulous movements of the hands and fingers. Gardening is also a powerful form of meditation as it allows one to interact with the energy and powerfully healing properties of plants, while focusing attention on the task at hand. When participating in any form of active meditation, the aim is to practice with intention, concentration, and reflection in order to still the mind and be mindful of one’s thoughts, emotions, impulses, and surroundings.
Guided imagery, or guided meditation, is also a powerful technique in meditation as it helps focus the mind and directs imagination. It is a multisensory form of meditation that involves the whole body, mind, and spirit. Guided imagery can be performed as self-practice with the help of music, a voice-led meditation, a visual aid, or in complete silence, and can also be practiced in a group with the assistance of a guided imagery facilitator.
Group meditation is another valuable method of meditation with profound merits. This form of meditation allows one to benefit from the presence and guidance of group members, while also sharing a strong energetic presence. When meditating with a group of kindred spirits, vibrations are heightened and healing forces are amplified. By coming together in a group to share both space and intention, the feeling of connectedness in enhanced. Group meditations also foster understanding, acceptance, patience, and a strong sense of community.
Tools for Meditation
A variety of tools can be incorporated into a meditative practice to enhance the benefits of mediation. Some of these tools include:
- Singing bowls and gongs
- Incense and resins
- Sacred plant medicine
- Visual aids
- Meditation beads
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation aids the body, mind, and spirit in innumerable ways. It is truly a holistic practice whereby one is able to use active participation along with mindfulness and detachment to achieve a deep state of peace and inner stillness.
Some of the benefits of meditation include:
- Heightens awareness
- Cultivates stronger focus and concentration
- Improves mental agility and memory
- Creates a deep state of relaxation
- Facilitates grounding
- Helps quiet the mind
- Fosters imagination and creativity
- Promotes a deeper sense of meaning and purpose
- Relaxes the nervous system
- Reduces tension, anxiety, and stress
- Relieves headaches and migraines
- Aids in pain management
- Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
- Enhances circulation and respiration
- Supports and strengthens the immune system
- Regulates hormone levels
- Encourages restful sleep and alleviates insomnia
- Increases serotonin levels
- Helps with addiction
- Opens the heart
- Creates feelings of joy
- Helps release negative emotions
- Supports spiritual growth and personal development