What is Meditation?
In simple words, meditation is practicing controlling your thoughts through mindful exercises. To become more present and increase self-awareness. To learn to love oneself without judgment.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of forms of meditation used by millions of people daily.
Over the last few decades, meditation has risen to prominence in the western world. It has been incorporated into many different medical regimes after studies discovered major benefits to practising meditation.
We think A LOT every single day of our lives. It has been found that we average between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day. And a whopping 80% of those are negative thoughts. 
Our thoughts have a direct correlation to our emotions. Thinking too much will make you feel just crappy.
Meditation teaches us how to lower the number of thoughts and the speed at which they enter our minds. It teaches us how to have more control over our thoughts and understand ourselves on a deeper level.
When you think less, you become more involved in the world around you. You notice flowers around the ground, how green the trees and grass are and the beautiful birds singing in the sky.
Practices date back thousands of years, all the way back to around 1500 BCE in India . And some historians believe that it was even earlier around 3000 BCE!
It is associated with religious traditions from all around the world including Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
What Are the Advantages of Meditation?
There are many great health benefits from meditating. It is not a cure for illnesses or anything like that, but it can provide much-needed space and mental clarity.
There is a great analogy about meditation and water running down the side of a mountain. The stream of water shifts and changes smoothly as it makes its way down the mountain, and this represents our flow of thought.
Meditation is one deliberate method of changing the course of the water, in turn, altering how we think and see the world around us.
Meditating can help you find kindness and love for yourself, especially during challenging times. Some positive physiological effects include lower heart rate, decrease in stress levels, reduced respiratory rate, and changes in brain wave patterns.
Some more benefits of meditation are:
· Control over your emotions
· Increased ability to focus
· Increases compassion
· Better management of mental health symptoms related to anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, pain issues & high blood pressure
· Better memory
· Lower and manage stress levels better
· Improve self-awareness
· Improves immunity
· Even helps relieve headaches!
Although medical experts have still yet to fully understand how meditation works. The research has clearly proven that meditative techniques can have a wide range of positive effects on our health and mind.
Getting a better understanding of yourself and your body will not only make your life better, but it will also make you more enjoyable to be around. The benefits of meditation go far beyond peace of mind.
How Do I Learn to Meditate?
Learning to meditate is difficult in the beginning. Many beginners make the mistake of trying to clear their minds of ANY thoughts, which is difficult for a novice.
Like with anything, the best way to start is by studying & understanding the basics. I guess that’s why you are reading this!
The first thing I want to tell you is to not expect too much too soon. It will take time to become better and benefit properly from meditating. And it is not going to solve all of your problems, but it will make you cope with them ten times better.
You don’t need to go out onto a hilltop and watch the sunrise with your legs crossed and palms facing up. Although that would be epic, and you should try it once you have learned the ropes. The real monk mode.
There are plenty apps and courses online that will help you meditate. But if you want to truly learn how to meditate anywhere at anywhere there is only one course I can recommend.
ZivaOnline by Emily Fletcher. Her style of meditation focuses the 3M’s: Mindfulness, Meditation and Manifestation. By using a ‘mantra’ you are able to fall into a deep meditative state rapidly and experience deep mindfulness.
Emily’s testimonials from some of the most respected health and brain experts in the world is enough to convince you that she is the real deal. Check out Ziva Meditation for more information.
A simple step-by-step guide for beginner meditation:
- Select a quiet place that has no distractions. Turn off your phone and any other electronic device that could interrupt your session. You can play calming music quietly, such as classical or instrumental.
- Set a timer. It is important to start small and build up. Begin with 5-minute sessions and gradually increase them as your skills progress. Before you know it, you will be hitting out 30—minute sessions in a monk-like state!
- Prepare by stretching to increase blood flow around your whole body. Then sit down in whatever way you are most comfortable, cross-legged on the floor. If you aren’t comfortable doing so you can try it with your back against a wall or sit in a chair. You need to be able to sit for 5-10 minutes without it being discomforting.
- Close your eyes and imagine erasing all your thoughts off a whiteboard to allow room for fresh thoughts during the session. Begin taking long breaths deep into your belly expanding it outwards. Slowly exhaling. Pay attention to how each breath feels. Repeat this step over and over.
- Do not try to control or clear your thoughts. The goal of meditation is not to clear your mind, it is inevitably going to wander. When you find your thoughts unravelling, try bringing your focus back on your breathing. Concentrate on the flow of energy going around your body. Imagine the journey as if you were one of your own red blood cells flying through your veins.
- Don’t judge your thoughts or try to understand them. Be kind to your wandering mind. Simply focus on your deep breathing to regain control.
- Close with kindness. Tell yourself in your mind what you are happy for, or something you have done well recently, or even something you are looking forward to. Anything positive. Always finish by telling yourself “Peace is within me.” Feel free to produce your own positive affirmation to end with!
And there you have a straightforward way to begin with meditation. All it takes is 5-minutes each day.
So now you know how to do it, you might be wondering “how often should I meditate?”
The answer is every day. There’s no way that you are “too busy” to sacrifice 5 minutes of your day to practice meditation and gain peace. So don’t make any excuses, it’s for your own benefit.
In a recent study, neuroscientist Amishi Jha found that only 12 minutes of meditation per day for five days per week is enough to protect and strengthen your ability to pay attention.
It is a fact that around 95% of our behavior runs on autopilot. Practicing mindfulness is taking executive control over these default processes. The more we practice, the strong our intentional brain becomes.
There are two main ways how to make meditation a habit:
1. By placing obstacles in the way to slow down the autopilot processes
2. Regaining control of the intentional brain by removing obstacles.
Other tips include:
- Put meditation reminders around you. In your meditation spots, around your home and workplace.
- Create and refresh your reminders regularly.
- Use an app on your phone which notifies you prior to and at meditation times.
Types of Meditation
Over the millennials that meditation has been around, it has grown and improved in many ways, shapes, and forms. There are hundreds of ways to practice mindfulness.
Here are the 5 most popular ways to meditate, in no order:
#1 – Concentrative Meditation
This type of meditation emphasizes your concentration of attention. Like in our simple step-by-step guide above, you focus on a single object or sensation such as deep breathing. You could focus on a sound such as a dripping tap, flowing stream or ticking clock.
This can be difficult to practice for longer periods due to our minds natural tendency to wander. When this happens bring your attention back to your breath and gain control of your thoughts again.
#2 – Loving-Kindness Meditation
Loving-Kindness Meditation (LKM) is another popular technique. But it is more advanced and harder to perform. This is because it requires you to ask yourself to send love and kindness your own way or on to others. It often takes practice to allow yourself to receive your own love or to send it.
Those who regularly practice Loving-Kindness Meditation can increase their threshold for forgiveness, self-acceptance, connection with others and more.
#3 – Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness Meditation is a combination of meditation and mindfulness. Which results in focusing solely on the present moment. During this state, you can acknowledge and accept your thoughts, emotions, and sensations free of judgement.
Mindfulness Meditation allows you to slow down your thoughts, release negativity, and calm your body & mind. Techniques can vary but most common practices include deep breathing exercises and awareness of your body and mind.
There is no need for equipment such as candles, essential oils, or mantras unless you prefer them. Meditation is about being as comfortable as possible to achieve full relaxation potential.
#4 – Breathing Meditation
Deep Breathing Meditation is a form that dates back thousands of years. Each tradition has a different aim for the meditation practices it introduces and has diverse ways of working with the breath.
Popular Breathing Meditations include:
– Shamatha (Breathing as is)
– Kundalini (Diaphragm breathing)
– Nadi Shodhana and Pranayama (Alternate nostril breathing)
– Zhuanqi (Breathing until the breath is soft)
– Kumbhaka Pranayamas (Anatara and Bahya) (Intermittent breath retention)
#5 – Body Scan Meditation
The Body Scan Meditation is an effective way of training the mind to increase self-awareness and sensory experiences. The main purpose of a Body Scan session is to tune into your own body and understand each body part and yourself as a whole, reconnecting physically.
With practice, the body scan will build your ability to focus and allow you to become more present in your life.
Tips for Beginner Meditation
Nobody starts their first meditation session and instantly becomes peaceful. It takes practice, just like any other skill. Over time you will become better and build a whole new relationship with yourself.
Here are 10 Tips to help you get the best start:
- Start slow. Even if you can only manage 1 minute, that’s okay. Start with whatever you are most comfortable with and build on it.
- Practice every day. This is the most crucial point.
- Set a schedule. Try practicing at the same time each day, it could be for a few minutes each morning while you wait for your brew to cool down.
- Get comfortable. To achieve a deep meditative state, you must be relaxed and comfy. If you don’t like sitting on hard floors, try sitting on a large pillow. If you get a sore back easily, rest up against a wall.
- Focus on what you are feeling. Whilst breathing in and out, notice what you are feeling as you do. Breathe in positive emotions and exhale the negativity from your body.
- Do not suppress your feelings. They are there for a reason, do not try and control your thoughts. Your mind will wander during meditation. When it does, accept those thoughts without judgement and gently guide your focus back towards your breathing.
- Do not expect too much too fast. Meditation is a practice that takes time, there is no instant gratification. When I first started, I had a weird sensation after each session for a few seconds. It was the start of a new relationship with myself.
- Try meditating in various locations. Keep a note of how you felt at each location and what you enjoyed about it.
- Start a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings is an excellent way to understand them better. You can download our printable Gratitude Journal here.
- Join a meditation group. Find friends to share your experience & latest ideas, create new relationships with.
What Is Meditation and How to Do It
We have covered the basics of meditation in this article. It’s over to you now to put this into action.
Meditation is a practice that allows you to gain control over your thoughts and emotions. We think A LOT, and most of our thoughts are negative. Practicing meditation daily helps us remove some negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones making our lives better.
What you think becomes your reality.
You only need to start small and build up. Use our Step-by-Step beginner’s guide above and begin strengthening your mind today.
For more quality information like this sign up to our newsletter, The Wisdom Post. You’ll get a free Mindfulness Bundle including a Mindfulness eBook, Gratitude Journal & A 15-Minute Guided Meditation. Everything you need to start meditating.
And if you are really serious about improving your mental resilience, becoming healthier, happier, and more positive towards life, don’t forget to check out Emily Fletcher’s Ziva Online.
What to Read Next?