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What is Meditation?

How to Meditate? Why Practice Meditation?


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<a href="http://www.how-to-self.com/meditation.php">What is Meditation? How to Meditate? Why Practice Meditation?</a>

You probably have a mental picture of someone meditating and a gut feeling that meditation is either "good" or that it is "bad." Your mental picture most likely captures an aspect of meditation, but doesn't capture the breadth of those who practice meditation, why they meditate, or what they meditate upon.

To meditate simply means to focus one's mind for a period of time, either in silence or accompanied by words, music, or hand gestures that are non-distracting because of their repetitive nature. Meditation is a solitary practice. Even if a group of people meditate together, there is no interaction among them.

Meditation is often used for religious or spiritual purposes, but it is also often used as a method of stress-reduction and relaxation.

Religious meditation has been practiced throughout history, especially by monastics. Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism have especially strong traditions of meditation, but meditating is found in all the world's major religions.

To some people, the word "meditation" immediately calls up "Transcendental Meditation," sometimes referred to as "TM," introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1955. Although TM derives from Hindu meditation practices, it is more often labeled "new age" or secular, in the same way that the yoga found in your local health club has roots in Hindu yogic practices but is generally considered secular.

To others, "meditation" invokes the image of Christian monks meditating on God's Word. While the monastic forms of Christian meditation generally focus on quietly deepening one's understanding of God's word, Christian Rosary meditation focuses on the repetitive movement of the beads and the repetition of familiar words. Thus, even within the Christian tradition, "meditation" comes in highly varied forms. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, says of Christian Meditation, "Prayer lets you speak to God; Meditation lets God speak to you."

Why practice meditation?

Religious or spiritual meditation connects one deeply with their God or Higher Power. All meditation has the benefit of reducing stress and increasing relaxation. For religious meditation, this is a bonus, a side benefit. For secular meditation, stress-reduction, relaxation, and generating a sense of well-being is the whole point of meditating.

If successful, meditation lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and brings about a more favorable body chemistry. This effect depends upon successfully putting aside worries and angry thoughts, and may not last much beyond the end of the meditation if angry thoughts re-invade the mind.

One form of meditation that focuses specifically on stress-reduction is Mindfulness Meditation. Mindfulness Meditation, popularized in the West since 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are, has its roots in Buddhist Philosophy, but is not a religious practice.

Mindfulness Meditation consists of focusing the mind on the present and refraining from judgement. If the mind turns to regrets of resentments about the past, to worries about the future, or to judgements of anything or anyone, the meditator gently guides the mind back to the present and to a non-judgmental attitude.

To Try Mindfulness Meditation

1. Choose a quiet place and a chair that is comfortable yet supportive. Keep your back comfortably strait.

2. Breathe deeply and slowly. Focus your entire attention on each in-breath and out-breath.

3. As stray thoughts enter your mind, thank each one. Immediately release each thought and return to a focus on your breathing. Don't judge your thoughts, just let them go.

Thank you for reading What is Meditation.

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Jonathan Lockwood Huie
"The Philosopher of Happiness" - is the author of 100 Secrets for Living a Life You Love, co-author of Simply An Inspired Life, speaker, personal coach, and creator of the popular Daily Inspiration - Daily Quote free email and Regaining Your Happiness in Seven Weeks e-training program.

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