Mental hard-work has largely replaced the physical kind in today’s world. We are all subjected to a constant onslaught of thoughts. Conscious and unconscious thought processes occur in the background continuously. This multiplicity of consciousness has far-reaching effects over the mind-body-spirit continuum. Fatigue, lack of concentration, depression, etc are some initial markers that evolve into complex ailments that may threaten our very existence.
Meditation is all about developing a full consciousness of the self and within the self. It aims to diminish the number of random thoughts. With practice, our attachment to thoughts and their identification progressively becomes less. The mind activity settles down, imparting peace, calm and focus. We are able to appreciate the present moment without external leanings.
There are certain preparatory factors to be looked into before practicing meditation.
If possible, the place of practicing meditation should be kept fixed. It can be either outdoors or indoors. In the outdoors, avoid the direct sun and ensure the place is not too windy. In either case, the place should be quiet and without external distractions.
Regularity of meditation is essential, with at least one session in a day. Any time of the day is fine, but it is preferable to meditate shortly after waking up in the morning. This helps us carry some of the energy and peace of the meditation into our daily activities. Dawn and dusk are considered excellent times to meditate. Also, it is advisable to meditate before a meal rather than after one.
3. How many times
Initially, while learning meditation, it is usually not possible to meditate for more than 10-15 minutes. After regular practice, one may be able to meditate for longer periods of time. Many people meditate twice, daily for 20 to 30 minutes. The duration and frequency is for each individual to decide.
The basic idea is to be seated in a comfortable position, which will prevent distraction, even if the duration of meditation is long. Lying-down is not advisable.
5. Assisting factors
To help tide over the initial distraction, soothing soft music or mantra chants may be used. These should be stopped once their purpose is fulfilled, which is to assist in full concentration.
Sit in a comfortable position with a straight spine, relaxed shoulders, an open chest, either cross-legged on the floor or in a chair. Any asana, like the Padma-asana / Swastika-asana / Siddhasana will also do, if you know them. Rest the hands on the knees with the palms facing up. Gently touch the index finger to the thumb. Relax the face, jaw and belly. Bring the tongue to rest on the roof of the mouth, behind the front teeth. Lightly close your eyes.
b. The process:
1. Breathe in and out through the nose, slowly, smoothly and deeply. The inhalation should initiate in the belly and then rise up into the chest. Continue this for some time.
2. Gradually as the breath slows and deepens, attempt to focus on the breath while simultaneously letting go of any thoughts or distractions.
3. Try to center your thoughts on the breath moving in and out of your body. Try to feel the body as it rises and falls with each breath.
4. With each passing moment, try to break free of external leanings. Bring as much of your awareness and attention to your body, as possible.
5. The mind will try to wander away and thoughts will try to creep in. Keep the focus on the body and breath.
c. Session details:
Practice this technique for 10 to 20 minutes. To end, gently let the eyes blink open, and remain calm for some time. Inhale, with the palms together in front of the heart, and then exhale and gently bow. Take a moment or two before moving on with the rest of your day.
1. It enhances the feeling of happiness and well-being.
2. It helps overcome depression, pessimism and stress.
3. It is highly beneficial in stress-related disorders like Hypertension.