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Demystifying Meditation

Updated on May 14, 2012

Meditation: The Method of Choice for Millions

Meditation's proven benefits have been hailed by scientists and the deeply spiritual, successful business people and busy parents. There are individuals from all walks of life who use this ancient practice to find equanimity in modern times, and it is one of the most important aspects of life for millions of people.

Why is meditation such a big deal? Well, it is a conscious connection with the source of who you are. A connection that helps you remember the big picture and let go of worries. It is a choice to be in the here and now, the magic moment where the pressures of past and future dissolve into the simplicity of be-ing.

Your Fearless Leader

Or, why I think I can help you.

As a yoga instructor and seeker of Self, I have an established meditation practice that I cherish for all the happiness and contentment it brings. Connecting with the peace, wisdom, and healing within is magical and enormously beneficial.

It took me quite a while to start meditating, even though I wanted to and knew why it would be a good idea. Every time I sat down to be still and breathe, at least in those beginning days, my mind resisted so completely that I wasn't very encouraged to stick with it.

At some point, however, I committed myself to a meditation practice, regardless of the relentless thoughts. It was one of the most important and wise decisions I have made in my life!

As a student and teacher of meditation, I bring it into my classes and even offer meditation online in a Beautiful Meditation Guide, which so many people use for inspiration and guidance.

The Benefits of Meditation

Some of the benefits include:

Decrease in stress and all its side effects

Increase in focus and calm

Increase in mental and emotional capacity

Higher quality of circulation and breathing

Healing on every level

Brings peace of mind, calm contentedness, and happiness

Helps you understand yourself and the world

Expands your capacity to receive and give love

Gives a profound sense of oneness

The Many Faces of Meditation

Practicing meditation is perhaps the most effective way to find peace and balance in your life. There are many forms and approaches to meditation, but the basic idea is to calm and clear the mind while entering fully into the moment. When the mind and body are steady, the light of the heart is more fully revealed and a feeling of deep peace is experienced.

Traditionally, meditation is done sitting still, with exquisite posture, so that the spine has its natural curves and energy and breath can move freely. In general, the most profound experiences happen in seated meditation.

However, you can bring a meditative quality to movement, such as in yoga practice, walking meditation, or any activity where you immerse your focus completely. Dancing, chopping carrots, watching the clouds, petting a cat, or any other seemingly ordinary experience can be a meditation if your awareness is totally absorbed in the present.

I've written another article about how to do walking meditation, which you might like.

Though all forms of moving meditation are valuable, stilling the body is a great way to help still the mind. And, let's be realistic, we need all the help we can get.

Meditations, Mantras, and Practices Galore!

This exceptional book, Yoga for Dragon Riders, invites you to step up to your fullest, most empowered self. Blending yoga, meditation, mantras and affirmations, breath-work, healing, energy, and countless inspiring practices, this book is a joy to read and bring into your life.

Do you want to dive deeply into peace? Are you ready to take your ability to live with integrity, love, power and wisdom to the next level? Yoga for Dragon Riders invites you to bring such honor and playfulness into your life that you will feel like you're ready to climb onto your friendly Dragon and fly!

Curious? Check out the first two chapters and full length yoga videos for free: Yoga for Dragon Riders the book!

Don't be frustrated when your mind keeps turning - this does not mean you are failing at meditation, it means you're a human being.

The Circus of the Mind

Many people get discouraged when they meditate because they find their mind will simply not be still. This is normal. The mind is designed to think. It is good at it, and we have spent our entire lives encouraging it to do just that. It is natural that it will take some practice to get the thoughts to take even a brief rest.

The game is to find the gaps between your thoughts. You gather your awareness and focus it on one thing, such as the breath, or a mantra, or a feeling.

As thoughts come through, you just let them go again, without holding onto them or following them. I find it helpful to be gently amused by my chattering mind while I meditate, and to keep returning to my focus over and over with loving patience.

Though your mind will do all kinds of tricks for you while you encourage it to be quiet, if you are consistent with your practice, as you continue to refocus as many times as necessary to be in the moment, meditating will get easier. It is part of the process.

Free Meditations

Daily Doses of Delight are guided meditations and yoga practices sent right to your inbox, reminding you to take a few minutes to shift your day and find your center.

Happy Meditation

My partner likes to practice what he calls happy meditation. He thinks of a memory or thought that brings joy, then stays with the feeling of happiness, letting the thought float away. I love seeing him sit with his eyes closed and a peaceful smile on his face.

You can do this with any feeling: love, gratitude, peace, compassion, forgiveness... Any attribute that brings light and healing to you is worthy of your attention.

Happy Meditation:

Align your spine and sit beautifully.

Take a few breaths to feel your body.

Feel your breath.

Then, think of a moment in your life that brought you great happiness

Let the feeling of joy fill you.

If it begins to fade, think of another happy memory.

Let the memories bring the feeling to you so strong,

That you can simply stay with the feeling of joy,

And let the image of the memory dissolve.

Close your eyes and breathe here,

In the warmth of your heart,

In the fullness of this feeling.

Want Some Guidance? - These guided meditations are excellent!

Fueling the Ecstatic Fire

It is important to fuel your meditation practice with intention. To maintain your practice, know why you are doing it.

If you meditate because you think you should, chances are it will lack enjoyment and won't be much of a priority. Anything that is forced looses its potency and can quickly become a chore. Meditation is meant to be an energizing, enlivening, sweet connection of deep love. Don’t let it get dry with forgetfulness of what it’s all about.

When you choose to meditate from a deep desire to awaken, or because you want to find freedom and peace, then you will make time for it. It becomes so important that you will carve space in even the busiest of days to get your hit of this purest of highs. With this kind of motivation, meditation becomes something you crave, something you want to do, and your practice will be very rewarding.

Om Shanti Mantra Meditation

Using mantra is an excellent way to focus your mind and shift the way you feel.

The Start of Something Great

If you don't already have a meditation practice, or if you have fallen out of practice, you might be asking, "So, how do I start?" Or, you might be thinking, " I want to meditate, but I don't have time." The response to both of those thoughts is the same. You make time for yourself.

Decide that it is important enough to get up 20 minutes earlier, or take 10 minutes of your lunch break, or 15 minutes before bed. Whenever it is best for you, set aside what time you can. It is nice if you practice meditation at the same time each day, but if this isn't realistic, it's okay. Just make sure you meditate at some point.

It may be a good idea to start with small doses. Try sitting still for 5 or 10 minutes. Then go to 15. You will find yourself naturally wanting to sit for longer periods of time, but it’s nice to start off easy so you don’t feel discouraged.

Don't be frustrated when your mind keeps turning - this does not mean you are failing at meditation, it means you're a human being.

When thoughts come through, just let them go again. Think of your mind as an exuberant puppy or a small child who is easily distracted. With love and infinite patience for yourself, keep returning your awareness to your focus.

Once your meditation practice takes shape, you feel the benefits and it naturally becomes the most important thing for you to do. Even if you only have 5 minutes, find stillness and some measure of inner calm, and you will notice the difference in your life.

Meditation: The Beauty of Breath

Sit beautifully.

Settle into your pelvis.

Grow taller in your spine.

Allow a spaciousness to expand within you.

Notice how your breath fills that space.

For the next few minutes,

Simply breathe.

Be a witness to the beauty of your breath,

It is the movement of life within.

Feel it as a gift from the source of who you are.

Let it be a wonder.

When thoughts come, just let them go again,

And keep bringing your awareness back to

The beauty of your breath.

Close your eyes and enjoy the peace

That your breath brings.

Want more like this? Check out my free meditations and deepen your practice.

Gayatri Mantra

This is one of the most ancient mantras. It has a beautiful way of bringing you right into a meditative state.

Yoga and Health Resources

Staying strong physically helps you to be more focused for meditation, and to be able to sit more comfortably. Check out this Yoga Core Strength Fitness article for some ideas and an instructional video.

Should You Do Yoga Everyday? Find out the answer to this question in this fun article that includes a simple breathing practice and a video that motivates you to Get On Your Mat. :)

Meditation for World Peace

Find excellent beginner yoga tips here:

What is your favorite meditation practice?

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    • profile image

      Rowan_Goodheart 8 years ago

      Meditation means the world to me. I notice such a difference in my peace of mind. That deep connection to self is the secret to a happy life.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Thank you for such a wonderful, light but powerful guidance toward meditation. It is accessible to anyone at any level. You have such a sweet, gentle, loving way of teaching!

    • KatrinaAriel1 profile image
      Author

      KatrinaAriel1 8 years ago

      [in reply to spirituality] Thanks so much! I hope this lens helps people establish a meditation practice without feeling intimidated by it. So glad you like it!

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)