Healthy living involves the four major components I’ve mentioned before – spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental health. Today I’d like to cover meditation. Meditation is simply a method of focusing all the scattered thoughts that normally run through one’s brain into a singular thought.
While it’s impossible to eliminate all thought, it is possible to focus on only one. With practice, this exercise will induce a lasting effect of reduced anxiety clarity, and a strong sense of inner peace. I would venture to say that consistently practicing meditation is arguably the most important aspect to emotional wellbeing, and has been shown to affect all four aspects of health.
So, how do you meditate? There are many ways of achieving a contemplative state of meditation, but they all have the commonality of focusing the mind’s attention into one place. Some use a mantra, which is a single word or sound that channels the focus of the mind and brings it back when it wanders. Some use a focused awareness on certain parts of the body. For me, the easiest way to meditate is to use breathing with the help of low frequency sound waves.
In a breathing meditation, focus is placed on breathing and whenever the mind wanders (and it will), you bring your thoughts back to the breath. And I should point out that it’s a little different than “thinking” about breathing. It’s more of an awareness of breathing. Being mindfully aware of your breathing is different that thinking about breathing, which is what we are trying to get away from.
The exercise would start like this:
- Get into a comfortable position. This could be lying down or sitting in a comfortable environment in a posture that restricts your breathing as little as possible.
- Take three or four relatively deep breaths in and out. Some like to breath in through the nose and out through the mouth
- Focus on your breathing and only your breathing. Do not worry about the rate that you are breathing or if you are doing it right or not. Just focus on the breath. You may even focus on your chest as it extends on inhalation and goes in as you exhale.
- Use a low frequency sound producing devise or recording if possible (learn more here).
- Notice the gentle pattern that is similar to gentle waves at the ocean. When your mind wanders, simply bring it back to the breathing. Go easy on yourself and make no judgments of right or wrong. Just breathe and focus on the breathing.
- Without thinking too much about it, be aware of how your body is relaxing with each breath. Notice how your body seems to be nourished by the air as it flows in and out of your body.
- Continue this exercise for 20 minutes if possible. Make no judgments about how well you did, but keep practicing and focusing your awareness on your breathing.
With consistent practice, focused breathing meditations will show positive results very quickly. As you advance in this exercise, you may wish to carefully introduce positive narrowly focused thoughts. This is the beginning of contemplative prayer. Where the contemplative isn’t really “talking” or “praying” to God, but rather experiencing God through the total quiet of focused meditation.