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What is Meditation?

The word meditation is derived from two Latin words: meditari (to think, to dwell upon, to exercise the mind) and mederi (to heal). Its Sanskrit derivation ‘medha’ means wisdom.

Meditation means awareness. Whatever you do with awareness is meditation. “Watching your breath” is meditation, listening to the birds is meditation. As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation.

When it comes to developing a practice, most people think they are too busy, are unable to sit still, or can’t quiet their mind long enough to meditate. Every good meditation practice must begin with finding what and where works best for you. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to meditate.

All you need to begin is to find a comfortable seat, so experiment and try out different positions. Ideally, your back is straight and your spine is aligned. But it is not necessary to sit on the floor or even to cross your legs. If you’re unable to sit for any length of time, find a propped lying down position, just try not to fall asleep!

Here are six simple methods to try, to help you begin your meditation practice today:

  1. Guided meditations
    There are hundreds of resources online that have a huge supply of guided meditations and music to help sooth your soul.
  1. Candle Staring
    If you have trouble focusing, you can light a candle and stare at it. Your attention will be held. If your mind races, just observe what it is doing and let those thoughts release.
  1. Mantra
    Repeating words over and over again, can help you find calm and focus. You can choose from a number of Sanskrit mantras like the Gayatri Mantra, which has meaning in its words and sounds, or you can even make up your own.
  1. Visualisation
    Another easy and down-to-earth meditation technique is to picture an idyllic place or setting in your mind. Focus on the picture and let yourself embellish it as much or as little as you need to.
  1. Present Moment Meditation
    Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Take a few moments here then allow your focus to broaden to your body and the sensations that it’s feeling. Now expand your focus to anything touching your body, noticing those sensations. Lastly, expand your awareness to everything you can hear and sense. Now reverse this process and come back, one step at a time to your breath.
  1. Become the Observer
    Focus on becoming the observer of your mind. Close your eyes and focus on the spot about an inch above of the spot between your eyebrows (third eye chakra). Begin to watch what your mind and body are feeling, thinking and doing.

Play with the techniques, have fun, explore what works best for you, what feels right. Begin with just 10 minutes a day, that’s all you have to do to see real changes in your life. Perhaps you will notice your emotional and mental state improve, calm and expand. This in turn may encourage a boost in physical energy, an ability to cope with pain or trauma and perhaps you’ll experience an increase in happiness!