Meditation has been practiced for years and is a valued component of several different religions. More recently though, meditation has been used outside of traditional religions for the psychophysical benefits it offers. Here we will take a brief look at meditation: the definition, how it’s used and the benefits.
What is Meditation?
The word meditation is derived from two Latin words: meditari, which means to think, dwell upon or exercise the mind; and mederi, which means to heal. It is not, as many believe, simply a prayer or form of worship. To meditate means to become aware. Simple activities such as fishing or watching wildlife could be considered meditation as long as these activities are free from any outside or inner mental distraction.
The techniques involved in meditation have become widely popular. The health benefits associated with meditation have helped spread this popularity. Through meditation one tries to achieve awareness by ridding the mind of everyday thoughts and focusing on the “here and now.” The various techniques involved are known to improve concentration and relieve stress, creating a happier and more confident self.
How to Meditate
There are several different forms of meditation, but all of them have the same goal in mind: to focus on the present moment and improve self-awareness. Many mediation experts agree that this awareness will come in hierarchal stages as the meditation progresses, but as a beginner it’s best to keep it simple. You can get started by following these simple steps:
1. Choose a quiet place and sit comfortably. Remember to keep your back straight. This will help facilitate breathing and focus. Place your hands comfortably on your knees or in your lap.
2. Clear your mind and begin taking deep regular breaths. Breathe deeply, inhaling with your nose and exhaling with your mouth. Feel the breath fill your stomach activity.
3. Now you are going to focus on your breath and your breath only. If another thought comes into your mind, recognize it and then get back to your breath. The goal here is to think about nothing. Focusing on your breath will help to clear your mind.
4. If you wish, you can use a mantra to help keep your focus. Different religions use different mantras for this purpose. For example, Christians often use phrase such as “Jesus is Love,” repeated over and over to help them concentrate only on their breath.
5. Continue this for 10-20 minutes focusing only on your breath. If you feel distracted, recognize the distraction, and continue your measured breathing.
Meditation allows you to focus on the moment and the moment only. Regrets about the past and worries for the future can create harmful stress and keep people from maximizing their potential. Mediation will help quell these worries and help you to become more relaxed and alert. Below are some of the common and most widely reported benefits of mediation:
1. Accessible. Meditation is always accessible. It can be done at home or the office whenever you wish, and can be done alone. You need not drive across town and waste half the day at an appointment.
2. Free. It won’t cost you a thing.
3. Easy to learn. Just follow the simple steps above. Every time you engage in mediation you can improve.
4. Healthy. Meditation is used to help treat a variety of conditions by providing the simple opportunity for focusing on the present. Among the conditions are:
5. Empowering. Many people and corporations are using meditation as a way to improve self-esteem, focus and productivity. By eliminating stress and increasing awareness, individuals are learning to lead fuller lives.
Start today and see if it works for you!
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When Abraham Lincoln took the Oath of Office as the 16th President of the United States in March of 1861, the country was anything but “united.” The country was so divided over issues such as slavery and individual rights that seven southern states had seceded from the Union, and the nation was on the brink of Civil War. Facing these obstacles, Lincoln could have easily and understandably succumbed to the pressure and relented to the demands of the South, but his values prevented him from doing so. He was willing to face an unprecedented War within the United States for what he believed to be fundamentally right.
History, both ancient and recent, is filled with examples of ordinary people acting extraordinarily and according to their values in the face of overwhelming challenges. People who refused to accept things they felt were wrong with the world, and who truly believed they alone could make a difference. People, such as Rosa Parks, who simply could not wait any longer for someone to act on her behalf.
In the face of personal harm and the risk of arrest, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus, singularly protesting the accepted laws of segregation, thus beginning the Civil Rights Movement.
When people follow their passion and act upon what they know in their hearts to be right, amazing things can happen. All change begins with an individual—an individual who sees something wrong with the world or perhaps something that can be improved upon, and has the courage to initiate the change.
The trick, of course, is to find something you are passionate about. What types of things are important to you and what can you do about it? Next, you must act. No stone begins to roll without the first push, and you alone can get the ball rolling and create positive change that supports your personal values. Don’t wait around for someone else to do what you can start right now. It’s not easy, but when you truly believe in something you’ll find that the motivation to continue will come very easily.
As a simple Catholic Nun, Mother Theresa dedicated her life to helping those less fortunate. She refused to accept that people should be hungry or denied medical care simply because of where they lived or their circumstances. She took personal responsibility for what she believed was wrong and acted accordingly. She was neither rich nor powerful. She did not seek fame or fortune. She simply wanted things to change because they were not aligned properly based upon her value system.
Isn’t it possible that you too could take a cause you believe in and make it your own? What could you do to improve upon this world?
All too often in life, we wait around for someone else to instigate the changes we want to see. We doubt our own ability and become paralyzed to action, thinking either we are not solely capable of bringing the changes about, or that someone else will get around to it. This inability to act alone is all in our head. Each journey begins with a single step, and our first step may set in motion a journey that could change the world.
The world is indeed a better place thanks to Lincoln, Parks and Mother Theresa. Their values and the courage to act upon them changed the status quo and set in motion events that make this earth a better place to live. The only “special power” they shared was an unshakeable belief in what they thought to be right and the guts to do something about it. Individuals can make a difference, and it begins by answering two simple questions:
1. What’s wrong with this?
2. What can I do about it?
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