Small moments add up over time, eventually they become greater moments.Larry Catron
Meditation is one of many forms of mental practice in which one deliberately practices relaxation, empathy, awareness, or focus. There are many types of meditation and many ways to practice meditating. In this article, you will learn about the basic breathing meditation and two variations of this practice.
The simplest form of meditation is breathing meditation. In breathing meditation one simply sits and focuses on breathing for a predetermined amount of time. The purpose of breathing meditation is to relax, relieve stress, and build focus.
During a breathing meditation, the mind will jump from thought to thought as it usually will. When this happens, the practitioner must return mental focus to breathing. Though it sounds simple to focus on breathing, it can actually be quite difficult. Simply sitting and doing nothing can be difficult if you are a very busy person or you always feel the need to be doing something.
My first experience with breathing meditation was uncomfortable and restless. My back hurt. I could not stop thinking. I wanted to get up and do something. When you are used to going from task to task with something always entertaining your mind, breathing is difficult to focus on.
This is how breathing meditation becomes the practical skill of focus. The act of letting your thoughts go and to focus on just breathing in and out becomes a chance to relax and practice focus. The more I practiced this meditation, the more easily I was able to focus on my breath for longer periods of time.
I would recommend this form of meditation for anyone that wants to get started meditating. Here are a few quick steps to get started:
- Find a quiet place to sit
- Sit with your back straight
- Close your eyes, but not all the way. Keep them just open enough to see.
- As you breathe, in your mind say “one” when you breathe in and say “two” when you breathe out
- Breath slowly for 10 to 15 minutes (set a timer)
A variation on breathing meditation is called mindfulness. Mindfulness is similar to breathing meditation, but instead of focusing on breathing, the practitioner focuses on thoughts that arise in the mind. When a thought comes to mind, the practitioner observes the thought consciously without judgment, like a passive observer. The key is that there is no judgment of the thought itself.
Mindfulness meditation can be done anywhere. The point of mindfulness meditation is to observe and feel the present moment without judgment.
Another variation on breathing meditation is loving-kindness meditation. This form of meditation is similar to breathing meditation but instead, the practitioner directs the mind to thoughts of compassion toward others and the self.
Loving-kindness meditation is similar to praying in that the practitioner wishes the best for others. The goal of living kindness meditation is to cultivate feelings of empathy.
I have found that this meditation works well with simple breathing meditation.
In summary, meditation is a practical skill that can be practiced to improve focus, awareness, and empathy. Meditation can help relieve stress and help you deal with difficult situations in life. Meditation is a tool for the mind rather than a complete solution. Here are a few points to remember:
- Meditation is a practice that has the potential to improve your life by helping you become more thoughtful and aware of life.
- Meditation is about the journey, being present in your life, not a goal.
- The more you practice, the better you will get.
- Practice at the same time every day.
- Start practicing 10 minutes per day, then increase the amount of time you meditate as you get better at meditation.