There are many kinds of meditation and all of them provide multiple benefits to anyone who practices. Mindfulness meditation is the underlying meditation in that it specifically deals with building the skill of paying attention. That skill comes in handy when practicing other kinds of meditation such as mantra, visualization, sound, prayer and more.
Some meditations are connected to a religious or spiritual tradition and others are secular in that they are not connected to any particular tradition. Many people simply use meditation to explore awareness/consciousness and use that exploration to more deeply understand and experience life.
Meditation has been around for thousands of years and over the past thirty years, Western science has confirmed what millions of people over thousands of years already know. Science and experience teach us that meditation reduces stress and opens us up to new and deeper ways of experiencing life.
Meditation, therefore, is for everyone, young, old and in between. Lately, more and more children are learning to meditate, particularly mindfulness meditation, and the results have been very positive not only in their school studies but in emotional intelligence as well.
We are finding that in fact, children come to meditation easier perhaps because they haven’t had time to take on the resistance to it that adults experience. I’ve taught and written curriculum for thousands of children and have learned from them that the focus that comes through meditation is a natural experience that is available to all.
Learning meditation is like learning anything new. There is usually some kind of resistance and if we have a good plan for dealing with resistance then we are more likely to continue to practice.
5 Things To Concentrate
Setting up good habits for practicing meditation is an excellent way to begin. Here are five that I have found to be helpful.
1. Set Up A Regular Schedule
We are creatures of habit so it is important specially in the beginning to set up a schedule that is the same every day. I recommend picking a time in the morning that allows you to practice before your daily activity. It’s a great way to start the day and the effects of the meditation will continue with you throughout the day.
This will have a very positive influence on how each day unfolds for you. Studies show that habits take about eight weeks to establish so be patient with yourself as you begin.
2. Create A Meditation Space
Set up space where you can meditate comfortably. Creating comfort is important to motivation and sustaining practice. Start with setting up a comfortable place to sit. Whether it is a cushion or a chair pick out something that will enhance comfort.
Also, if possible make this space an expression of your meditation practice in that it should express silence, stillness, and focus. It would be good to remove anything that can cause distractions such as phones, televisions, and computers. Also keep the room at a moderate temperature.
3. Tend To Your Stomach
Get into the habit of meditating while your stomach is at ease. This is important and needs to be emphasized. Our stomachs have way more influence over us that we care to admit.
If we are full then the stomach uses our energy for digestion. If we are too hungry then our stomach tries to get our attention to eating. Either way is a distraction. We want to be in the middle. Not too hungry and not too full. This will make meditation easier and is an important habit to create.
4. Be Gentle With Yourself
Some days meditation will be easy and some days not so much. Although there is a lot to be said for the discipline of sticking to a certain number of minutes regardless of difficulty, there is also a lot to be said for being gentle with yourself particularly in the beginning.
If you set aside thirty minutes for meditation and find that you are struggling, then it is fine to shorten the meditation to accommodate the resistance. Meditation is a journey, not a destination so we have no need to rush for results.
Your practice will flourish in time and there is a natural rhythm that will allow you to be gentle with yourself as well as able to develop and sustain the habit.
5. Make A List
Once you make your list of why you are meditating, get into the habit of reviewing the list a least once a week. During times of resistance, this list will remind you why you are practicing. The list can be revised when necessary and can be used to bolster motivation.
The list can be long or short and can contain such things as reducing stress, communicating more clearly with yourself and others, having less fear, experiencing life with more joy, having more compassion, deepening understanding and creating more peace.
Write down what is most meaningful to you and revisit your list on a regular basis.