Meditation is a practice that helps one create balance in our life; it will help us focus mentally, calms our stress and tensions, and promotes a more balanced state physically. We achieve this by the practice of focusing your attention to help you feel calm and give you a clear awareness of your life. Eastern philosophies have recognized the health benefits of meditation for thousands of years.
Meditation is now widely practiced in the West, with the belief that it has positive effects on health. In the West, the word meditation means a concentrated state of mind in serious reflection. The Latin root of the word meditation, mederi, means “to heal.” It is an effort to heal afflictions of the mind, the hurt ego, by trying to understand the cause of the problem and finding a way to solve it, that is, by knowing what counter-measures to take. To meditate thus is to deepen a state of understanding. In the East, however, meditation does not mean thinking at all but fixing the mind in a spiritual ideal, to be one with it, or the thought-process dissolving in the consciousness of it.
According to Zen, meditation does not involve any concept but is an awareness of inner silence. As per the Yoga of Patanjali, meditation is a combination of three steps: pratyahara or abstraction, or withdrawal of the mind from the sense-objects or attention to their memory; Dharana or concentration; and dhyana or contemplation which, however, is not a thought-process but absorption of the feeling of oneness with the ideal. Meditation is a relaxation exercise, the techniques used are rhythmic breathing, stilling the ego-mind which creates a balance and focuses mentally, it also promotes total relaxation physically. This practice will increase your spiritual awareness and given you insights into your life, promoting a more balanced way of perceiving the outside world. Your choices are extensive—mindfulness meditation, primordial sound meditation, transcendental meditation, walking meditations, and the latest trend, compassion meditation, are some of the many approaches, each with a slightly different intent. Compassion meditation aims to foster a feeling of loving-kindness toward others.
Mindfulness meditation focuses on awareness and acceptance of the present moment. Whatever the variation, certain basic elements are common to all forms of meditation. Comfortably seated, lying down, or even walking around, you focus your mind on your breath, a word, a mantra, an object—something specific—possibly for a few minutes but perhaps much longer, gently pushing away distracting thoughts. As you learn to stay focused, you experience a sense of calm. Your body relaxes. Your breathing slows. Your heart rate drops. Many of those who practice meditation turn to it to help them deal with emotional stumbling blocks like stress and anxiety. It can also be used to change unhealthful eating habits or to battle substance abuse. And studies continue to add to the ways in which meditation might be able to play a therapeutic role—for example, it has been shown to bolster HIV patients’ immune systems, ease chronic pain, and reduce blood pressure. Meditation practiced daily will create for you a more relaxed attitude towards life as you will become clearer as to what is important in life. You will stay calm in stressful situations, feel more enliven and balanced physically, and truly become the master of your own destiny.
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