In common vernacular the word meditation conjures images of lucky people achieving the nearly impossible: stopping the endless stream of restless and uneasy thoughts that plague our minds on a daily basis.
In reality, meditation can be easy and anyone can benefit even from a 5-minute daily practice.
Meditation’s health benefits are proved by decades-spanning research on its positive effects on blood pressure, immunity, cardiology, psychology and more. Even though our skeptical minds want a quadrillion explanations, these facts are hard to refute.
Imagine you’ve just returned home after a stressful workday. Your energy is failing you and you just want a nap—but dinner needs to be made, another email to a client needs to be sent, and the laundry needs to be done, because you’re out of clean shirts.
Not only do you feel overwhelmed by all the chores awaiting you, but you can’t stop thinking about work issues that you’d rather forget.
Then you sit in your bedroom with your eyes closed, practice a short technique and voila—you feel refreshed, your mind calmer.
What are thoughts?
According to a 2005 article published by the National Science Foundation, a U.S. government agency promoting national health and science, we think between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day—80 percent of these are of a negative nature, while a whopping 95 percent are recycled, repetitive thoughts.
This explains why sometimes even a small difficulty can seem debilitating. In fact, we color the current experience with old interpretations—or negativity bias—and as a result, we might miss a great opportunity.
Remarkably, meditation reduces stress, helps you become more aware of your thoughts and eliminates negativity. So even a short practice can help you create a life of peace, abundance and joy—clearly a pretty impressive feat.
After a short time from your first meditation, you notice the types of thoughts you host in your mind.
Did you know that we don’t choose most of our thoughts? New studies, for example, show that genetics influence our thought process. The reverse is also true and your emotions influence your genetics, according to a Stanford study.
The ancient yogis observed that we can create a disease in the body through negative thoughts, and we can restore good health through meditation.
In addition, according to both the Vedic and Siddha traditions of India, celestial bodies (planets, constellations and stars) are the main sources of your thoughts—because they’re celestial agents delivering the results of your karma. So difficult planetary alignments lead to negative thought patterns.
Karma is, according to the ancient masters, the reason some people think abundant prosperity thoughts and others a vast number of self-defeating poverty thoughts.
So thoughts are mostly genetic (or soul genetics, as Dr. Pillai calls this process), repetitive, negative, planetary, and in one word—karmic.
Also, did you know that scientific research on thinking patterns—Segerstrom et al., 2003; Segerstrom, Eisenlohr-Moul, & Evans 2010—shows that repetitive thoughts are associated with higher stress levels?
Environment matters, too, and the thoughts you have in a beautiful, green park are very different from the thoughts you get in an industrial area busting with noisy machinery. And—when you are calm and relaxed, you’re more likely to get new, more creative thoughts, meaning you’re better equipped to create the life you want.
Moreover, regardless of the source of your restless and negative thoughts, meditation can restore your well-being and bring you utter positivity—the prerequisites for a happy life.
So to help you build an easy meditation practice and eliminate stressful attempts that can delay its benefits, here for you seven easy steps to regaining peace of mind, enjoying better relationships, and improving your health—all at once.
1. Give Yourself Silence
Noise pollution is insidious. You might not be aware that much stress is generated by all-pervasive noise. Often these sounds turn into blank noise of which you aren’t fully conscious.
Have you ever ignored the background chatter from a TV screen—like the news—during your home activities? Perhaps, you felt a strange anxiety coming up, and when you turned the TV off, you realized you could breathe much better.
Noise adds up. Your refrigerator, media outlets, neighborhood, street traffic, sirens, lawn mowers and construction work can simultaneously vie for your eardrums.
So before starting your meditation give yourself plenty of silence. Close the windows. Turn off unnecessary appliances. Close the door, if someone is talking in another room.
2. Give Yourself Comfort
The mind has a funny but distracting habit—when you’re trying to learn to meditate, it goes to an area of physical discomfort and settles there. So be as comfortable as possible.
Tight belts and clothes stress the body. As a result, the mind is affected, too. Even a wristwatch might be too tight. So if possible, wear some comfortable clothes and remove your shoes and tightly fitting jewelry.
If you’ve been practicing yoga and you’re comfortable sitting on the floor, use a large pillow and begin.
3. Give Yourself Clarity
You already know this: after Thanksgiving or Diwali, your mind is foggy, while your body tries to assimilate the extra sweets and heavy dishes typical of our festivities.
Meditation is best done before eating. If you’re very hungry, you can eat some fruit. Another option, if you aren’t lactose intolerant or vegan, is drinking a little milk.
That said, if all you have is 15 minutes after your lunch break, don’t worry—there isn’t such a thing as a wasted meditation, because its benefits of meditation accumulate over time.
4. Give Yourself Alertness
Sit on the most comfortable chair available. Lying down in bed is also a great option—here, though, there’s the risk of falling asleep. If you’re very tired, that’s fine. Just set a timer so you don’t totally lose consciousness.
Rinsing your face with cool water can help you stay alert. Or, if you’re used to caffeine, a small cup of green tea or coffee before your meditation can help you stay alert. Organic is best, as much drowsiness can be caused by the toxicity of some chemicals in our foods and drinks.
5. Give Yourself Trust
Worrying that your meditation is too short, imperfect or disturbed by too many thoughts, can increase stress. More importantly, this fear doesn’t reflect the truth.
Becoming aware of the many thoughts coming to you during meditation is, in fact, a form of meditation.
Trust that your meditation will calm your mind, bring more creativity and the fulfillment of your wishes.
6. Give Yourself Tools
Needless to say, some techniques of meditation are so advanced that they require higher states of consciousness or even full enlightenment. But for most of us, some traditional, super-easy techniques can be very helpful. Below is a short list.
You can choose one of the following meditation techniques and practice it with your eyes closed. For deeper relaxation and avoiding time concerns, it’s a good idea to use a timer and choose the duration of your practice.
Closing your eyes and being in a darker room helps your brain produce DMT (dimethyltryptamine)—which is believed to lead to deeper states of meditation and better intuition.
- Concentrate on your breath or nostrils. When thoughts come, let them go and again put your attention on the nostrils or breath.
- Meditate on a sound. Mentally repeat a sacred word or sound such as OM, Amen, Peace or Shanti.
- Dr.Pillai’s technique: Observation and detachment. “Observe your thoughts. They are guests in your mind—they check in and check out.” See your thoughts arrive and leave; stay detached.
- Meditate on a mantra—a set of auspicious vibrations that can take you to a higher state of peace and understanding. Some mantras can change your consciousness and help you manifest a desire. Ideally, a mantra must be empowered by your spiritual teacher or an enlightened master through initiation. Dr.Pillai has offered hundreds of free YouTube videos that include initiation into a mantra.
- Contemplate a higher concept. In Vedanta, jnana yogis meditate on a higher principle or divine law. Peace, freedom, truth, service to humanity or compassion are some examples.
- Meditate on a personality. You can keep your thoughts on the outstanding characteristics of a favorite spiritual teacher or celestial archetype. You can imagine Ganesha, Lakshmi, Jesus, Buddha, or anyone else you prefer.
Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist, explains that visualizing these higher beings or looking at their images lastingly activates significant parts of the brain that lead to deeper compassion and understanding.
Other practices can be done with your eyes open:
- Observing an image of your Guru or celestial being
- Walking meditations
- Listening to melodious music or solfeggio—sounds that vibrate at frequencies that can shift the brain into the alpha state (or deeper levels) of rest and relaxation.
7. Give Yourself Blessings
Another lesser known way meditation works, according to the ancient yogis, is by proxy—or having another person practice a technique or ritual on your behalf to help you attain your goals. The results can be astounding. This method is based on the Vedic principle that everything in the universe is connected.
In the Vedic tradition, mantras recited by another person to benefit you, or a fire ritual performed after stating your name and birth star—the constellation where the Moon was positioned at your birth—are believed to bring miracles of healing, prosperity and relationship.
Enjoy your meditation!
by Lalitha Devi
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