By now most people have heard about meditation. In the past few years, it has gained immense popularity all over the world. Long gone is the notion that it can only be practiced by Buddhist monks or "Yogis". Anyone can practice and reap the benefits of meditation. But what exactly is meditation? Do you just sit there and close your eyes?
Well, yes... but there's a little more to it.
Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. It originally was meant to help deepen the understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction.
Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. It produces a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind causing you stress- clearing away the information overload that builds up every day. This process results in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.
Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional state and overall health. Luckily, these benefits don't end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day and can even improve certain medical conditions.
I was first introduced to meditation last year when my friend sent me a link to a free 21 day meditation program. Like so many, I'd heard about meditation before but never found the need to implement it into my life. Mainly because I knew nothing about it. I just assumed it wasn't for me. You know, I wasn't that "type" of person (whatever that meant).
After the first week of meditating, I fell in love with it. I felt calmer, more centered and patient after each meditation. In a way, I also felt rejuvenated. Now, if I don't meditate, I can automatically sense a difference in my mood, my attitude and overall drive for the day.
I haven't been keeping up with it though, which is probably why I've been so out of sync lately. I'm excited (and in desperate need) to start back up again on Monday.
Why Monday? Well, besides it being my favorite day of the week, Oprah and Deepak Chopra, who is one of the most respected and well known spiritual teachers in the world, are sharing another 21 day meditation, called Finding Your Flow. Normally the price for one of their meditations is $50, but every few months, they offer one of them for free. So if you've ever wanted to try out meditation, now is the perfect time! Their 21 Day Meditation-Finding Your Flow starts on Monday, April 14th.
To register and participate, click here.
In the registration page, you'll find a sample of one of the days in the 21 day meditation (Day 6). You will get an idea on the format of the meditation and from there you'll be able to determine if it's something you'd want to try.
What I love about Oprah and Deepak's meditations, is that they're guided. Meditation is not easy, it takes practice and patience to get your mind to stay still. Being fairly new to this whole meditation world, I prefer having guidance throughout.
If you do decide to participate, here are some helpful tips from Deepak to prepare you before and during the meditation:
- Where to Meditate: Since these are guided meditations, you can plug in, close your eyes, and go within any safe place you choose, somewhere you will not be disturbed.
- When to Meditate: Morning and evening coincide with our body's quieter rhythms. Our body knows how to be still; we just have to give it the opportunity. Studies show that routines begun in the morning last the longest, but any time you look forward to meditating is the right time.
- Body Position: Being comfortable is most important. It is preferable to sit up straight on the floor or on a chair to help cultivate alertness, but if you are ill or need to lie down, that is fine. The mind has been conditioned to sleep when the body is lying down so you may feel sleepier. Your hands can relax on your lap, palms up or any way that you feel most open.
- Thoughts: Thoughts will inevitably drift in and dance around your mind, but that's normal. Don't try to do anything with them – let them be. If you find yourself thinking about what's passing through your mind, just return to focusing your awareness on the mantra or your breath – you will soon slip into the space between thoughts.
- Breath: When we pay attention to our breath, we are in the present moment. In an unforced, natural rhythm, allow your breath to flow in and out, easily and effortlessly.
- Meditation Length: The effects of meditation are cumulative. Setting aside as little as 15 minutes a day to retreat is beneficial. Many schools of meditation prescribe 30 minutes of meditation twice a day. As your meditation practice evolves, you can extend your time. It's better to spend just a few minutes meditating every day rather than meditating for an hour a week.
Make sure you pick a comfortable place in your home where you're free of distractions. It doesn't have to be a huge area- a little spot in your room will do.
Here's my little meditation corner:
If you've ever been interested or curious about meditation, I'd recommend giving this 21 Day- Finding Your Flow meditation a try. It might be exactly what you've been looking for to improve your focus and health.