You’d practically have to be a hermit whose been living isolated for society in a cave for most of your life not to have heard about the benefits of mediation. But, before you can enjoy the benefits of meditating, you’ve got to learn how to meditate.
For many, attempting to learn to meditate can be a daunting task. What can inhibit many new adherents from progressing in their practice are unrealistic expectations. Knowing that meditation can reduce levels of stress and anxiety, help to relieve depression, lower blood pressure and other health risks – not to mention allow one to enter into what some describe a euphoric state, others the most peaceful state of mind they have ever experienced, well, it comes as no surprise that people want to see results – and fast.
Practice is a key meditation technique
The desire to reap the benefits of meditating almost instantly is common in any culture that has embraced the practice, but it likely that this desire is more prevalent in Western cultures where the concept of progress is more prevalent than the concept of practice.
Meditation is not an act – it is a practice. Thinking of meditation as a practice can assist in developing something very necessary to the practice of meditation – patience. Most of us have heard the euphemism “Practice makes perfect.” Practicing meditation may not make us perform the art of meditation perfectly, but it will, in time, allow the beginner to progress.
All too often a beginner will start their program very excited and enthusiastic. However, their enthusiasm wanes when they don’t get the results they expected in very rapid succession.
Patience is a key meditation technique
Thinking that you will master quieting your mind in one or two sessions is like thinking you can become a virtuoso pianist after one or two lessons. Great musicians, truly great musicians, take a lifetime to learn their instrument. And, just as a musician has many instruments to choose from, when it comes to the practice of meditation, there are many techniques to choose from.
You may have heard of musicians who first began to learn to play one type of instrument, but found their true talent playing a different type of instrument. For instance, they may have started on the piano and then took up playing the violin. While they can still play the piano, they became masters at playing the violin because it suited them better.
The same can be said when choosing meditation techniques. For some, one technique will do the trick. They are comfortable with it and make and develop the discipline to practice their technique every day. If they’re lucky, they stumble upon a technique that suits them right away. For others, practicing a number different techniques is a better fit. For the beginner having difficulty establishing their meditation practice it is helpful to discover and explore different types of meditation techniques.
Find personal meditation techniques that fit
However, it is equally important for the beginner to know what techniques that may be more suited to them. For instance, some people can visualize extremely well. They have no trouble creating pictures of different settings or places in their mind and them imagining that they are there. Focusing on the visualization quiets the mind. Beginners who are adept at visualization may want to begin learning how to meditate using guided visual meditations.
Others may relate more to their body sensations and respond to more physical forms of meditation that don’t require visualization. For instance, focused breathing or following their breath.
Another form of meditation along these lines is the practice of focusing attention on any sensation in the body; say an itch, and then “following” it. Either one of these practices quiets the mind.
For beginners with a more auditory orientation, meditations that focus on something called a mantra (repeated sound, word, or phrase) can quiet their mind. It is also a form of meditation to chant, or even to focus listening to a particular sound such as a meditation gong or chime can quiet the mind.
In order to reap the benefits of meditation, beginners must first develop the discipline to practice meditation every day, explore different meditation techniques, and – most of all, be patient with their progress.
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