Learn about practical meditation for ordinary people.
The word "meditation" is often misunderstood. The word was used so much for the types of meditation done in the East that many times those of us here in the Western world have come to see it as something exotic and strange, and possibly religiously inappropriate. It doesn't have to be that way though.
Whatever type of meditation one does,
I see two main purposes for it:
listening to the Divine
relaxation of the mind and emotions.
Neither of these things has to do with twisting your body into a pretzel, changing religions, following a holy person, nor anything like that. They have everything to do with doing something to help yourself out emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Of course, if you're an atheist, you can still meditate just for the mental and emotional benefits. It's all up to you.
Another misconception about meditation is that it's hard to do. Nope. It's easy, so easy in fact, that we active, goal-oriented people have a hard time with it sometimes and try way too hard. Essentially, meditation is just letting your mind and emotions get quiet.
How do you go about meditating? Well, there are many many ways. There are many courses and methods of instruction, online and off. Do a search on meditation to find formal classes if that's your bent. You can do it very simply at home without any instruction, though. I'm not a meditation teacher as such, but I can pass on some simple things I've been taught and experienced as meditation.
The simplest one is daydreaming. Yes, daydreaming is a form of meditating. You just get comfy and let your mind wander off and do what it will -- kind of relaxing your mind in its own little mental playground.
Another way is to simply sit quietly. Start out with a couple of slow, deep breaths as you get comfortable. Relax your body from your toes to the top of your head one piece at a time. Then simply sit quietly and let your mind relax too.
Another thing you can do is get comfy and tell yourself a silent or audible "chant" of some kind to give your busy little mind something to do while you listen to the Divine and relax. I don't mean a formal chant like the Hindus or Buddhists use, although that will definitely work, just some soft repetitive sound or phrase that's relaxing to you. The Catholic rosaries are chants of a sort that you could use. Or you can just say "love" over and over, or even hum a simple tune.
The mind is notorious for throwing up dust when you tell it to be quiet. That's okay. Just notice what it's throwing around and let it go. You can even literally say to yourself "Okay, i see that, and I'm letting it go." You'll find that the more you meditate, the less the mind tosses things around and the more peace and quiet you feel from it.
One of the big obstacles people come up against when trying to meditate is their insistence on getting it *right* immediately. There's no wrong way to meditate, so remind yourself that as often as necessary. Also, it can help a lot if you start out with small doses of meditation. The brain changes its wave patterns when you meditate, even the daydreaming kind, and it takes practice for your mind and brain to get used to it. Just like trying to do 300 leg lifts the first time in the gym makes no sense and is likely to be discouraging, sitting down to meditate for an hour the first time could well be too much, even though it's not painful the same way 300 leg lifts would likely be. Start out in small sessions. Even starting with 5 minutes a day and building up slowly can be very beneficial. Don't worry that you're not meditating right or enough. And don't sweat it if you get so relaxed you fall asleep; you probably just need sleep too. You have a whole lifetime to meditate, there's no hurry.
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