What is meditation?
Meditation is a practice of re-establishing peace within yourself and understanding your mind. It is a relieving moment to take some ‘me-time’ for yourself.
Meditation offers the opportunity for you to settle your mind into a certain degree of stillness in order for you to be aware of the flickering thoughts going through your head. With a calm introspective mind, you will be able to truly see and understand the fabricated mental barriers which separate you from inner peace.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means to live fully in the present moment instead of living in our heads and bouncing between the past and future. We often base our projections of the future on past experiences, which may be erroneous. Very often, our minds will wander off longing for things which do not actually constitute towards our well-being and we end up getting trapped in unnecessary stressful situations. Mindfulness helps us to recognise this and free ourselves from these wrong perceptions.
Mindfulness is the ability to touch life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and in touch with those around you and with what you are doing. Mindfulness is to awaken to the wonders of life that is happening in the here and now.
Will meditation help me find myself?
We have already lost touch with ourselves by living through different roles each day and taking them to be our identities. We jump from one identity to the other, snowballing the feelings and emotions associated with them. Whenever we are lacking in one identity, we try to ignorantly supplement them in another. This is the problem with mistaken identities.
Meditation allows us to have direct knowledge that they are not our identities, but roles and responsibilities to fulfil. Returning to ourselves by dropping all those mistaken identities will help process our emotions and settle the mind to its natural clear and bright state, removing all limitations of our true worth. It is precious time to drop all those mistaken identities to find out who we truly are.
How is Meditation different from Yoga?
The true meaning of Yoga means the unification of body and mind. However in the present day, yoga has been commercialised and lost touch with its spiritual roots. It is being taught as a relaxation technique and exercise for the strengthening of the body. Unlike meditation, it doesn’t help us to understand our minds and gain inner peace, clarity or purpose.
Very often, our inner feelings and emotions are either repressed or left unattended. Meditation helps to ‘ventilate’ them and recognise that we are more than our emotions. Instead of reacting and riding along with them, mindfulness meditation allows us to disengage and regain power over our situations. It is a deep healing process of uncovering what lies beneath our regular thought processes and harmful emotions. Meditation allows us to reclaim our lives and become the best version of ourselves.
Meditation inspires compassion and morality. After attaining insight through meditation, we apply the beneficial changes into our daily lives, reaping the best benefits for ourselves and others. Morality, meditation and insight are not separate. Authentic practice produces joy, liberation and ease. We need to live happily and peacefully. A spiritual life is not separate from worldly responsibilities. It helps us relate to the joy and suffering of others. This is the true meaning of Yoga, or Zenness.
Is there a best time to meditate and how long for?
Like physical exercise, meditation is an enjoyable and life-changing way of life. Meditation is a lifelong journey and has to be practiced daily. You can practice it at any time of the day. For beginners, it is recommended to meditate 10-20 minutes at the start of the day before breakfast, and another session before going to bed. As everyone’s biological clock is different, you will figure out the best timing for yourself as you progress.
How do I start meditating?
Waking up every morning, instead of rushing to start our day, we can instead welcome the beautiful sights and sound which our eyes and ears have to offer. Can you see the beautiful white clouds and blue sky? Or the dark sky gently telling you to enjoy the scenic sunrise which it is about to bring out? Did you notice every cell of your body blooming like flowers as you feel the warm embrace of the sunlight? How about the music which your ears and the birds are playing?
This insightful practice which only takes a few minutes can be boosted with deep conscious breathing and proper guidance. It will help us to recognise that there is already an abundance of conditions for our happiness and if we always start our day in such a calm and mindful manner, happiness will become a habit. Isn't it a wonderful thing to be happy without desire? When we realise that we have the capacity to be happy, it will give our minds the space and clarity to focus on our priorities.
Very often, our minds will wander off longing for things which do not actually constitute towards our well-being and we end up getting trapped in unnecessary stressful situations. Be it for material gain, popularity, approval from others or any forms of attainment, our minds tend to take delight in pleasing circumstances or develop aversion towards undesirable situations. Satisfying our cravings only lead to a state of temporary high and after that feeling wears-out, we tend to seek for something else just to have that brief moment of high again. All these are due to an untrained mind which has mistaken suffering for happiness.
Therefore this meditative mindful recollection is very important and it is best to start practising it the very moment we wake up. When we can bring Life into life, we will have the clarity to focus and enjoy everything which is available in the present moment. When we are with our family and friends, mindfulness will help us to truly appreciate their presence and we can enjoy the precious time we have together.
What are the benefits of meditation?
The benefits of meditation are aplenty, here is a brief list:
Increases concentration and clarity
Increases happiness and positivity
Provides a radiant demeanour
Slows down aging
Affirms self-worth and purpose
Provides a sense of calm, peace and balance
Reduces pain and improves resilience
Enhances immune system and increases energy
Increases blood flow and reduces heart pressure to healthy levels
Heals painful memories
Reduces feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, fear, stress and confusion
Increases the thickness in the following regions of the brain:
Pre-frontal cortex (decision-making, appropriate social behaviour)
Left hippocampus, which assists in learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation
Temporo Parietal Junction (TPJ), which is associated with perspective taking, empathy and compassion
An area of the brain stem called the Pons, where a lot regulatory neurotransmitters are produced