What is Meditation, and how do I achieve a meditative mind.
***Before answering I would like to say that Meditation is a personal practice and as such it can follow some of the same principals that are present in a Yoga practice.
Personal practice at all times means that although the instructor/teacher serves as a guide, you at all times need to check in with your own body, with your own mind and most of all remember to always set the intention for any practice you choose.***
So what is Meditation?
Meditation is, and brace yourself this is what comes up when you search google for a definition; “the action or practice of meditating”.
Well there you go that answers that question, right? But what is it?
It is a moment of mental clarity manifested in absence of all thought, brought about by an willful act of deliberate mindful stillness and/or active mindful movement. The act repeated over time becomes ones practice. Laying down horizontal or walking at a steady pace gazing at the horizon if exercised mindfully can both lead to the clarity of the mind. I will mention a few tools that I myself have personally used.
Can anyone meditate and what are some of its benefits?
Anyone aware of their body, its breath, and its movements and non movements can potentially meditate and as with any practice this is one of those things that one just gets better and better as the time goes.
Do not measure yourself against the progress or non-progress of others. In any practice that is meant to foster personal growth, and any and all personal growth leads to stronger unity of all. So yes, I guess a benefit would be stronger unity of all. On a more immediate level one can foster greater ability to withstand stress, whether physical or mental. Over time as one gets more and more in tune with their peaceful mind, the worrisome thought and stresses that one used to experience are reduced to noise that has less and less effect on us. Further more the body and its normal functions become more normalized when one is actively engaged in Meditation and Yoga practice.
Do I have to be seated or laying down?
Relax, you can be either or and so much more, but the secret ingredient is always mindfulness no matter which one you choose. There are many options to pick from and as I mentioned before, one can opt out for walking if it is more fitting with their natural composition. Another thing is setting the intention before any practice. Knowing exactly why one is acting helps maintain confidence and positive disposition towards ones acts.
Are there any tools or activities that can help foster a meditative mind?
So we already went over the importance of setting the intention, as well as the importance of infusing your acts with mindfulness. Before I mention some practical tools I would like to offer one that involves reason and common sense. Yes I know, it is not that common, but perhaps it just needs to be activated. So whenever stress, or worry, or anxiety, or fear strike you in all of its 50 shades of unpleasant, ask yourself this my friends – IS THERE ANYTHING THAT I CAN DO RIGHT NOW ABOUT THIS – If the answer is no and for the most part it is, well then the best thing is to preserve yourself and find a way to shift your focus away. Meditation is an awesome tool for all those people that have the best intention yet are missing something to give them help in making the first steps. So a practical tool and advice for seated meditation would be comfort, it would defeat the purpose if there is pain in ones back or if one is engaged more in holding a Lotus position as opposed to achieving clarity. Prop your butt on some pillows to give yourself some forward leaning tilt, allowing your knees to be in alignment with your hips or below. This should alleviate some of the pain and if there is back pain, there is nothing wrong with laying down.
When you lay down a good tool for me was to bring my feet and hang them off the edge of my bed or a massage table, something slightly elevated. The barely hanging feet will create a contrast due to the pull that the gravity exerts on them. This contrast will become more and more apparent if one focuses on it and the physical sensations can offer that pause and absence of thought out of which everything comes to life.
When doing the walking meditation I would suggest finding a steady pace and a steady breath. Then find a place on the horizon, the furthest point of your sight meeting with it and relax your eyes. Without a one on one that your eyes do with its environment, ones field of vision will be flooded with more items but with less detail since the eyes are on the horizon. In this way one experiences a whole different set of perceptions that stem from the absence of thought and a peaceful mind we all carry within.
Enjoy your meditation!