Meditation is known for its many health benefits, both on our minds and bodies.
Even though it is a very well-known practice, many people who are just starting to learn meditation don't always understand what it is, how to do it, and why.
In this post, we'll answer many of the most frequently asked questions regarding meditation, as well as provide some helpful tips to get you started with your practice.
First of all, what is meditation?
Meditation is an ancient practice where an individual will use specific techniques to achieve a state of mental clarity, calmness, and stability.
What kind of techniques are used in meditation?
Some of the techniques that are used in meditation include focusing on a particular object, sound, or thought, performing a meditative activity, mindfulness, and focusing on the breath.
When was meditation first invented?
The earliest records of meditation date back to the Upanishads. The Upanishads are Sanskrit texts from the late Vedic period, which is the period of the Late Bronze Age and early Iron Age of the history of India.
Who is meditation for?
Meditation is for anyone who wants to improve their mental wellbeing, as well as their physical health. Meditation has many benefits for our minds and body.
With enough practice, it can help relieve stress and anxiety, as well as produce a healthier, more pleasant mental state and mental clarity.
Why do people meditate?
People may meditate for numerous reasons. Some of these reasons include achieving a calmer state of mind, reducing stress, reducing anxiety, improving sleep quality, achieving a state of mental clarity, improving focus and concentration, and many more.
What are the benefits of meditation?
New research is continuously being conducted on the advantages and impacts of meditation on our minds and bodies. Some of the benefits that have been found are:
- Stress relief
- Anxiety relief
- Better emotional health
- Better self-awareness
- Improved attention span and focusing ability
- Helps fight addictions
- Improves sleep
- Helps cope with pain
- Aids in preserving the brain and memory
- Helps break bad habits
- Helps with achieving mental clarity
How does meditation reduce stress?
Meditation can help reduce stress by enabling us to achieve a state of mental clarity. It can help calm your mind by reducing and even stopping the stream of thoughts that may be causing you the stress you are feeling.
How does meditation reduce anxiety?
As with stress, meditation can help reduce anxiety by reducing and stopping worrying thoughts that may be causing negative emotions and feelings. Meditation can help you stay focused in the present moment without worrying about the past or the future.
How does meditation improve sleep?
Meditating before sleep can help reduce stress, anxiety, and thoughts. It can assist you in achieving a more peaceful and tranquil state of mind, which can lead to greater sleep quality, including deeper sleep and easier falling asleep.
How does meditation help depression?
Stress and anxiety are major triggers of depression. Meditation can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety by clearing negative thoughts and emotions. It trains the mind to be able to stay focused and gives it the power to re-focus on positive thoughts when it gets distracted by negative thoughts and emotions.
How does meditation change the brain?
Studies have found that meditation has numerous effects on the brain, such as increasing the cortical thickness in the hippocampus and decreasing brain cell volume in the amygdala.
Why does meditation make me feel sleepy?
Meditation puts you in a state of calmness and tranquility. It helps reduce thoughts and be in a more stable mental state rather than having a scattered mind full of thoughts and emotions. This is why meditation is also a great tool for improving sleep quality, as it can calm you down at the end of the day, even with a short meditation session.
What is the difference between meditation and mindfulness?
Meditation is a form of mindfulness that goes hand in hand. Meditation is a tool that enables you to live in the present moment, be calmer, stress-free, and more mindful of yourself and others.
How can meditation change your life?
Meditation can help those who experience stress, anxiety, depression, negative thoughts, difficulties focusing, and much more. Meditation can also help those who want to have a deeper understanding of themselves and others and to live a calmer and more peaceful life.
What happens if you meditate every day?
Meditation is a practice, one that needs training. Just like going to the gym and lifting weight takes time to lift more and more weight, so does meditation.
Meditation takes time to get better at. Making a habit out of it and doing it regularly can help you get better at it, which, as a result, will allow you to experience better stress relief, anxiety relief, focus, improved attention span, and more.
Does meditation do anything?
Meditation has been used for centuries and is still helping people today to cope with certain issues they are facing. It also helps those who just want to live a more meaningful and mindful life. Numerous studies have been published about the positive effects meditation has on the brain.
Why does meditation focus on breathing?
It is not easy to clear our minds of thoughts, and it is very easy to get distracted by them and to allow the stream of thoughts to continue. Meditation teaches us how to control that stream of thoughts and how to limit it.
There are different methods for doing so, such as focusing on sounds, an object, and our breath. When thoughts arise, focusing on our breath allows us to remain focused and centered, reminding us that we should be focused on the breath and bring the stream of thoughts to an end.
What kinds of meditation are there?
When people think about meditation, they usually think about monks sitting on top of mountains for hours. While sitting meditation is one form of meditation, meditation is not limited to sitting. There are quite a few different kinds of meditations. Some of them are:
- Movement meditation
- Mindfulness meditation
- Spiritual meditation
- Mantra meditation
- Transcendental meditation
- Visualization meditation
- Loving-kindness meditation
- Reflection meditation
- Focused attention
- Sound meditation
What should I know before beginning to meditate?
It is important to understand that meditation takes time and is not an instant miracle cure. Many believe and understand that meditation can help clear their mind of thoughts, negative emotions, and general negativity in their life.
While these are only a few of the benefits that meditation can provide, it is important to note that these benefits do not occur immediately.
Meditation, like any exercise, takes time to get good at.
The more you do it, the better you will get, but do not expect to be enlightened as soon as you sit down and close your eyes. Doing this can easily and quickly lead to giving up on the practice as it will not meet those expectations in such a short time.
What do I need to meditate?
For most forms of meditation, you need nothing other than a will to grow and be better, and patience.
For some types of meditation, there are certain things that can help, and that may be required, depending on the type of meditation you are doing.
For example, sitting on a yoga block can be very helpful when meditating while sitting down. For Sound meditation, some sort of sound will probably be needed as well, such as ambient music, a constant sound, or nature sounds.
How long do I need to meditate?
No one other than yourself can tell you the amount of time you need to meditate for. The length you can meditate for depends on how far along you are with your practice.
It takes time to get used to the sensation of sitting quietly and still while also learning to focus better and to handle the stream of thoughts.
Many people who first start meditating believe that they need to sit for long periods of time, though that can lead to quick burnout and to stopping the practice entirely.
Instead of long periods, sit for short, 5-minute sessions. Start with one session a day. Depending on your schedule, you may find it comfortable to add another 5-minute session.
As you progress, you will feel more comfortable increasing the length of each session.
When is the best time to meditate?
The best time to meditate is whenever you feel the best time is. Others cannot tell you what the best time to meditate is for you. It is something that you will need to figure out for yourself while meditating.
Many people enjoy meditating right before bed as it helps them fall asleep faster and have higher quality sleep. For others, meditating before bed when they are tired can make their meditation session not very efficient since they are so tired throughout the session.
Some prefer to meditate in the morning, others though, may not be able to make the time for that.
The best time to meditate is when you feel you can spend a few minutes doing it. It can be in the morning, before bed, or throughout the day.
What is the best way to meditate?
There is no one best way to meditate. There are many different forms of meditation. Trying them all, or at least a few of them can give you a better understanding of which meditation is right for you, which you feel better doing, and which will give you the benefits you are looking for.
The two most common ones are sitting meditation and walking meditation.
What is the easiest way to start meditating?
There is an endless amount of resources for meditation online. A great way to start the practice is by doing guided meditations.
This can be done by downloading apps to your phone, listening to meditation podcasts, or even searching YouTube for guided meditation videos.
How will I know that meditation is working?
After some time of meditating regularly, you may discover that you are no longer impacted by the same negative ideas, feelings, or events as you were previously.
You may notice an improved attention span, better focus, and a greater ability to let go of unwanted thoughts.
When starting a meditation practice, you may not feel the benefits right away. Meditation is a practice that takes time. The more you do it on a regular basis, the greater the benefits will be. It will take time to feel all of the benefits it can have for you.
Can I learn to meditate on my own?
Yes, you can! Meditation is a practice that, as well as doing it on your own, you can learn on your own as well. There are plenty of resources online for meditation, including on this website. There are guides, videos, and podcasts that explain how to meditate and progress your practice. And, of course, countless apps are available and can be downloaded to your phone.
Where should I meditate?
It's important to find a spot where you can be uninterrupted for your whole session. While it's ok to be slightly interrupted by a noise outside, you wouldn't want someone walking in and completely distracting you from the meditation. Finding a quiet place where you won't be bothered is best.
What should I expect during meditation?
It's great to have expectations for meditation, and it makes sense that you would since meditation is spoken about so highly.
While meditation does have many benefits on our bodies and minds, it's important to understand that meditation is just like any other exercise, it takes time to get better at it.
Just like some who just started going to a gym probably cannot lift the same weight as someone who has been training for two years, so should someone who is starting in meditation not expect to have the same experience as someone who has been doing it for a long time.
It takes time, even to be able to sit for 20 - 30 minutes.
When people begin a meditation practice with the expectation of being able to sit for 20 or 30 minutes, but quickly discover that they are unable to do so because it is much more difficult than they anticipated, they can easily abandon the practice, believing it is not for them.
But that's what not to expect. What should you expect though, when starting meditation?
If you are just starting with meditation, expect there to be thoughts, uncomfortableness, and a difficult time focusing.
As mentioned, it's not easy to sit for a long time, even for 5 minutes, and not think about anything.
The moment we are told not to think about something, we think precisely about that.
How do I stop thoughts from coming while I meditate?
Many strategies can be incorporated into your meditation practice.
It's important to first understand that having thoughts while you meditate is completely normal and expected, especially when first starting out.
Most of us have lived our entire lives letting our mind do whatever it wanted, with no restrain. Controlling our minds will take a lot of work that can be done through meditation, as long as we keep the practice and do it on a regular basis.
Once thoughts come to your mind, do not get angry, upset, or frustrated, instead, watch them, let them be, and then without any negative emotions, let them go. Then focus again on your breath, sounds, or whatever else you were focusing on.
There are methods to try and minimize the number of thoughts that pop into your head, such as:
Counting breaths: For each inhale and exhale count 1. So, inhale and count 1, exhale and count 2, inhale 3, exhale 4. Once you get to 10, start over. If a thought pops into your head and you get distracted, it's ok, notice the thought and then let it go. Then start counting your breaths again from 1.
- Following your breath: Follow the path of your breath during your inhales and your exhales. Feel where the breath enters your nose, where it goes to in your body, and where it goes before it exits your body. Follow the breath's path.
- Focusing on a constant sound: Focusing on a constant sound, such as ambient music, can help anchor you when you get distracted by thoughts. It can help you notice the distractions faster and make letting them go easier, allowing you to re-focus on the sounds again quickly.
- Trying guided meditation: Guided meditation is an excellent way to start meditating. It's a great tool even if you are not a beginner in meditation. Guided meditation can help you stay focused and conscious of any thoughts you may not be aware you are thinking about since the guide will restore your attention to the breath, sound, or whatever else the focus should be on throughout the meditation.
Do I have to sit cross-legged?
No, you do not!
Although this is the traditional meditation pose, there are no laws that dictate the position you must sit in to concentrate.
You can meditate while laying down, standing up, walking, sitting in a chair, or in any other position that you find relaxing and comfortable.
How do I meditate if I cannot focus or concentrate?
Try to make focusing easier by focusing on a constant sound.
You can either put background music on, such as ambient music, or a constant sound that will play throughout the meditation.
While you may still have thoughts that pop into your head, this is ok. Just notice them, and then let them go.
It is normal to have thoughts. The more you practice, the easier it will be to focus and stay focused.
How do I know if I'm meditating correctly?
When first starting a meditation practice, you may not notice the benefits right away. As your practice goes on and you do it regularly, you will start noticing that you can focus for longer and that you are able to let go of unwanted thoughts and emotions.
When first starting a meditation practice and at the beginning of sessions, it's normal to have thoughts and emotions. As you continue the session and practice regularly, it will get easier and easier to let these thoughts and emotions go.
How often should I meditate?
As often as you feel you need to.
Trying to meditate too many times for too long could lead to burnout, so try not to overdo it.
When first starting with meditation, it's good for some people to take things slowly and to do short sessions whenever possible. As time goes by, you will understand when the best time to meditate for you is, as well as how often you should do it.
Find your way
Meditation has many benefits and can be a great tool for calming down, reducing stress, anxiety, being more mindful, and much more.
Though it may not be easy and it can take time, as you progress, you will start to notice the differences.
You will start noticing a calmer, more stress-free version of yourself.
You will be able to manage and lessen the constant stream of thoughts.
In difficult situations, you'll be able to use meditation techniques like following and focusing on your breath to help reduce tension and stress, make better and more rational decisions, and gain a deeper understanding of the situation.