What is Meditation?
Meditation literally means “exercise” as well as “contemplation”. Meditation is a way of looking into oneself or a deep reflection. Meditation is practiced traditionally in most religions. The aim is to reach deep inner relaxation which changes one’s perception of the surrounding environment.
How does meditation work?
Different forms of meditation
Inner relaxation and reflection into one’s inner self by using meditation can be done in a variety of ways. A commonly used technique is to concentrate intensively on something. This can be an object, a spot in the room, sounds, certain pictures (Mandalas), a soundless repetition of one syllable (Mantra) or the rhythm of one’s own breathing.
Meditation with a Mantra
Meditation with a mantra is probably the most well known and popular form of meditation. A Mantra is a sound or a word, which is continuously repeated. The purpose of the Mantra is to avoid distractions and to concentrate the mind.
What is a Mantra?
The word Mantra originates from two Sanskrit words. The first is “man” which means “to think” and the second is “tra” which means “to liberate”. Mantras are usually words with one or two syllables. Commonly used Mantras are usually “om” which means “I am” and “so-ham” which means “I am he”. Many meditation teachers feel that it is important that the Mantra has a personal meaning for the person meditating. A Mantra can be, for e.g. a soothing word like “rest” or “peace”. Others feel that words which do not have such a significant meaning – for e.g. “one” – are better as these Mantras do not distract as easily.
Another widespread form of meditation is breath-counting meditation. Breath-counting meditation is based on a controlled breathing technique.
Gong meditation is based on the nervous system’s response to certain sounds. During meditation, the person meditating feels the vibrations of the gong penetrate his/her body causing the whole body to vibrate. This induces mental relaxation.
Effect of Meditation
Meditation is suitable for nervousness, sleeplessness and psychosomatic illnesses.
Medically proven effects of meditation:
- Meditation influences the brain waves. During meditation brain waves alter: more alpha waves (typical for keeping guard but in a relaxed state) and delta waves (typical for sleep) can be measured.
- During meditation increased endorphins are released. These substances which are produced by the body give feelings of happiness and decrease sensitivity to pain.
- The entire metabolism is slowed down during meditation. The heart beat is reduced, blood pressure decreases and breathing becomes regular and deep.
Learning how to meditate
Meditating is harder than it seems. It is relatively easy to meditate for one minute. The challenging aspect of meditation is trying to switch off all thoughts for a longer period of time. Meditation cannot be learnt in a few weeks.
It is necessary to receive guidance from competent specialists. Pay attention to the organisation offering meditation courses and make sure that it not some sort of sect-like organisation.
Transcendental Meditation = TM
The Yoga school opened in 1958 by the Indian monk Maharishi Maheshi developed into a widespread, worldwide, strictly organised sect. Followers are promised that they will be liberated from stress and psychosomatic illnesses by using simplified yoga techniques and that they will find inner peace, calmness as well as increase consciousness and awareness.
Meditation for Beginners
8 Minute Meditation: Quiet Your Mind. Change Your Life, Victor Davich